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Lesson Plans


Re: value of art in academics (long -henry post)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Linda Kelty (lckelty)
Thu, 1 Jul 1999 20:54:04 -0400


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Henry, you raise many excellent points. If we should as a group attempt =
to do our own research as well as a compilation of previous research, =
would you be interested in participating? The fact that we are =
referring to material from 1840 would indicate the need for more current =
research, especially in light of the current research into the way we =
learn. thank you for your time, insight and research in this response. =
Linda
-----Original Message-----
From: henry taylor <taylorh>
To: Linda Kelty <lckelty>; artsednet.edu =
<artsednet.edu>
Cc: Sharon K. Bartlett <bartbart>
Date: Thursday, July 01, 1999 4:30 PM
Subject: Re: value of art in academics (long -henry post)
=20
=20
=20
Hi,
=20
Demonstrate the value of art in academics, eh?

Having begun there I suppose one must go back and understand what is =
prior to that quest. We assume that art has value and that this can be =
demonstrated. Prior to that is the assumed connection between art and =
academics. What is it based upon? What is shared by art and the various =
academic disciplines?

MPBC90 cites K.C. Cole and thereby directs out attention, wisely =
enough, towards perception. (Physicists, it should be added also are =
notable for some truly excellent personal collections of art.) The =
nineteenth century British biologist William Bateson was of the opinion =
that art was a higher calling than science; more rigorous =
intellectiually, and the source of the deeper questions which science =
must pursue.

Cole is right on the money:

"Scientists and engineers, like Root-Bernstein, 'must learn
to observe as acutely as artists and to visualize things in
their minds as concretely. They must learn to recognize
and invent patterns like composers or poets--and play
their high-tech instruments with the same virtuosity as
musical performers.'"

That the tool shapes the mind, and indeed the body, has also been =
noted by W. Bateson's son Gregory; himself a biologist, anthropoligist, =
and epistemologist as well aas James Burke and Robert Orenstein.

But if perception is the crucial link why teach art? Why not just =
institute a perceptual discipline and by-pass the middleman? One of the =
treasures of the NAEA, the late Vincent Lanier raged against using art =
as a modality for fostering skill in other disciplines and I think he =
did so with the most excellent of reasons.

This is not at all to say that art (THE Arts) is not the path we are =
seeking.It has been noted in education that some learning is very =
contextual. If you learn to perceive, to distinguish and to =
value\evaluate in the general classroom it seems quite likely you will =
continue to perceive and differentiate at your best IN the general =
classroom. It's a straight-line process and as such, a difficult =
learning to transfer into a work context outside the classroom.

One might attempt to integrate perceptuational training into =
individual disciplines with better success. But increasingly, in this =
postmodern dawn, we are confronted but the necessary interconectedness =
of all disciplines and how much our recent advances owe to =
interdisciplianary collusion. Perception into 2, or more, disciplines! =
Do we then reframe the interdisciplinary as the new discipline and begin =
the same pattern anew?

And then there is another thing; we, every creature in fact, grow up =
perceiving and distinguishing differende, evaluating and acquiring =
preferences in the aesthetic fashion. We do it intuitively from the very =
beginning of life. Why even teach this skill and why go against the =
intuitional current?

The easy answer to this is that there are finer degrees of =
perception, discrimination and value than are arrived at intuitively and =
casually.

How is such learning best acquired? Despite Lanier's deep concern... =
(and I think in agreement with it as well...we shall see) ...through =
art. Lanier's base concern was that art be the center and the purpose =
behind studying art and I agree. We live in a era of vitamin =
supplements. We all know how vitamins have been isolated and =
synthesized. We also are familiar with the recommendation that vitamins =
DO NOT replace, in any way, a well balanced diet. In the same way, I, =
argue, synthetically isolating perceptual lessons and exercises in art =
does not replace all the "micronutrients" in a well balanced art =
curriculum--whatever that might be.. In other words if you go after =
art--for art's sake you will get all the benefits you seek in a better =
balanced and in a more widely accessible fashion.

So far this is only rhetoric; a possibly appealing argument. To get =
beyond that we need a means of testing our theories. Craig Roland =
pointed this out to me at tha NAEA in D.C. Here I think we need to go =
back to some work done by Fechner and Weber in Leipzig about 1840. which =
culminated in the Weber-Fechner Law:

This law "asserts, on the whole correctly, that the particular =
differences upon which perception depends are not subtractive or =
additive differences, but ratios." - Gregory Bateson

Further, "the ability to perceive the difference betwen two weights =
is based on the ratio between them and not upon the subtractive =
difference. So if you can descriminate two ounces and three, you will =
also descriminate six ounces from four, and indeed three pounds from two =
pounds." - Gregory Bateson

So if we could show that this perceptual ratio could be improved =
through some regimine of art education we m,ight then have an argument =
for the process by which we had made that improvement. We would have a =
measurement process.

Weber -Fechner is over a century-and-a-half old. It needs to be =
re-validated and most probably reworked in some degree to reflect recent =
developments.

If we are seriously interested in pursuing this line of thought we =
have to get used to the idea that most of the available data will still =
be found outside of our own discipline in perceptual studies in =
psychology and physiology, the biology of aesthetics (bioaesthetics), =
the anthropology of aesthetic education and visual arts, epistemology =
and ontology. Some pretty heavy-duty reading, I can promise you! A lot =
of it will be found in little "nuggets" within much larger bodies of =
text. It will not be laid out neat and tudy for the picking.

Some starting book might be:
A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology of Mind
Gregory Bateson --edited by Rodney E. Donaldson
This is the most concise resource from Bateson but his other books =
shouldn't be missed. A very useful understanding of aesthetics can also =
be gained here.
=20
Bateson is probably the richest starting point because there are so =
many little bits to find. Most of the other books in my collection each =
might yield a chapter of valuable data at best, more often than not, =
only a paragraph or two. After half a dozen years those little =
paragraphs seem to pop up everywhere but they are still so disconnected =
nd disparate as to defy collation.
;-)
=20
Search on the web and in indexes for:
perception, difference, discrimination of difference, distinction =
of difference. aesthetics, bioaesthetics, Gregory Bateson, context, =
education and epistmology, epistemology, ontology, play, the sacred, =
systems theory, Weber, Fechner, Weber-Fechner, Douglas Hofstadter.
=20
Finally, the thing art has to offer than makes a significant =
difference in learnig perception lies in art's roots in PLAY. =
Playfulness is the modality throughj which the learning of perception =
ext4ends beyond a single discipline or context and throughout all phases =
of an individual's life. Work and study are linear, focal, like having =
blinders on to keep the eyes on the road ahead. Play, in contrast to =
work involves extention, the testing of limits and of borders. Play is =
also its own reward and motivation.
=20
Mary Poppins had the thing right: "In every job which must be doen =
there is an element of fun...." Art offers the possibility of leading =
with that fun aspect.
In the end, in terms of learning perception content makes no =
different whatsoever but the things which draw our individual attention =
can make all the difference. If we can't find the thing that demands to =
be perceived and distinguished by our student she may never progress =
beyond the formal outer aspect. --For every person who must learn there =
is a thing which must be learned.... You find that thing and SNAP the =
task becomes play.... An artist finds for herself unique personal =
issues which drive her work. Through that she grows and gains access to =
new worlds. This is what art offers too.
=20
-henry

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Henry,=20 you raise many excellent points.  If we should as a group attempt = to do our=20 own research as well as a compilation of previous research, would you be = interested in participating?  The fact that we are referring to = material=20 from 1840 would indicate the need for more current research, especially = in light=20 of the current research into the way we learn.  thank you for your = time,=20 insight and research in this response.  Linda
-----Original = Message-----
From:=20 henry taylor <taylorh>
To:=20 Linda Kelty <lckelty>; = artsednet.edu= =20 <artsednet.edu= >
Cc:=20 Sharon K. Bartlett <bartbart>
Date:=20 Thursday, July 01, 1999 4:30 PM
Subject: Re: value of = art in=20 academics (long -henry post)

 
Hi,
 

Demonstrate the = value of art=20 in academics, eh?

Having begun there I suppose one = must go back=20 and understand what is prior to that quest. We assume that art has = value and=20 that this can be demonstrated. Prior to that is the assumed = connection=20 between art and academics. What is it based upon? What is shared by = art and=20 the various academic disciplines?

MPBC90 cites K.C. Cole and thereby = directs out=20 attention, wisely enough, towards perception. (Physicists, it should be added also are notable for some = truly=20 excellent personal collections of art.)  The = nineteenth=20 century British biologist William Bateson was of the opinion that = art was a=20 higher calling than science; more rigorous intellectiually, and the = source=20 of the deeper questions which science must = pursue.

Cole is right on the money:

 "Scientists and engineers, like=20 Root-Bernstein, 'must learn
to observe as acutely as = artists and=20 to visualize things in
their minds as concretely.  They must = learn=20 to recognize
and invent patterns like composers or poets--and=20 play
their high-tech instruments with the same virtuosity = as
musical=20 performers
.'"

That the tool=20 shapes the mind, and indeed the body, has also been noted by W. = Bateson's=20 son Gregory; himself a biologist, anthropoligist, and epistemologist = as well=20 aas James Burke and Robert Orenstein.

But if = perception is the=20 crucial link why teach art? Why not just institute a perceptual = discipline=20 and by-pass the middleman? One of the treasures of the NAEA, the = late=20 Vincent Lanier raged against using art as a modality for fostering = skill in=20 other disciplines and I think he did so with the most excellent of=20 reasons.

This is not = at all to say=20 that art (THE Arts) is not the path we are seeking.It has been noted = in=20 education that some learning is very contextual. If you learn to = perceive,=20 to distinguish and to value\evaluate in the general = classroom it=20 seems quite likely you will continue to perceive and differentiate = at your=20 best IN the general classroom. It's a straight-line process = and as=20 such, a difficult learning to transfer into a work context outside = the=20 classroom.

One might = attempt to=20 integrate perceptuational training into individual disciplines with = better=20 success. But increasingly, in this postmodern dawn, we are = confronted but=20 the necessary interconectedness of all disciplines and how much our = recent=20 advances owe to interdisciplianary collusion. Perception into 2, or = more,=20 disciplines! Do we then reframe the interdisciplinary as the new = discipline=20 and begin the same pattern anew?

And then there is another thing; we, every = creature in fact,=20 grow up perceiving and distinguishing differende, evaluating and = acquiring=20 preferences in the aesthetic fashion. We do it intuitively from the = very=20 beginning of life. Why even teach this skill and why go against the=20 intuitional current?

The easy answer to this is that there are finer = degrees of=20 perception, discrimination and value than are arrived at intuitively = and=20 casually.

How is such = learning best=20 acquired? Despite Lanier's deep concern... (and I think in agreement = with it=20 as well...we shall see) ...through art. Lanier's base concern was = that art=20 be the center and the purpose behind studying art and I agree. We = live in a=20 era of vitamin supplements. We all know how vitamins have been = isolated and=20 synthesized. We also are familiar with the recommendation that = vitamins=20 DO NOT replace, in any way, a well balanced diet. In the = same way,=20 I, argue, synthetically isolating perceptual lessons and exercises = in art=20 does not replace all the "micronutrients" in a well = balanced art=20 curriculum--whatever that might be.. In other words if you go after=20 art--for art's sake you will get all the benefits = you seek=20 in a better balanced and in a more widely accessible = fashion.

So far this = is only=20 rhetoric; a possibly appealing argument. To get beyond that we need = a means=20 of testing our theories. Craig Roland pointed this out to me at tha = NAEA in=20 D.C. Here I think we need to go back to some work done by Fechner = and Weber=20 in Leipzig about 1840. which culminated in the = Weber-Fechner=20 Law:

This law "asserts, on the whole correctly, = that the=20 particular differences upon which perception depends are not = subtractive or=20 additive differences, but ratios." - = Gregory=20 Bateson

Further, "the ability to perceive the = difference=20 betwen two weights is based on the ratio between them and not upon = the=20 subtractive difference. So if you can descriminate two ounces and = three, you=20 will also descriminate six ounces from four, and indeed three pounds = from=20 two pounds." - Gregory Bateson

So if we could show that this perceptual = ratio could=20 be improved through some regimine of art education we m,ight then = have an=20 argument for the process by which we had made that improvement. We = would=20 have a measurement process.

Weber -Fechner is over a = century-and-a-half=20 old. It needs to be re-validated and most probably reworked in some = degree=20 to reflect recent developments.

If we are seriously interested in = pursuing=20 this line of thought we have to get used to the idea that most of = the=20 available data will still be found outside of our own discipline in=20 perceptual studies in psychology and physiology, the biology of = aesthetics=20 (bioaesthetics), the anthropology of aesthetic education and visual = arts,=20 epistemology and ontology. Some pretty heavy-duty reading, I can = promise=20 you! A lot of it will be found in little "nuggets" within = much=20 larger bodies of text. It will not be laid out neat and tudy for the = picking.

Some = starting book might=20 be:
A Sacred Unity: Further Steps to an Ecology = of=20 Mind
Gregory Bateson = --edited by=20 Rodney E. Donaldson
This is the most concise resource from Bateson = but his=20 other books shouldn't be missed. A very useful understanding of = aesthetics=20 can also be gained here.
 
Bateson is probably the richest = starting=20 point because there are so many little bits to find. Most of the = other books=20 in my collection each might yield a chapter of valuable data at = best, more=20 often than not, only a paragraph or two. After half a dozen years = those=20 little paragraphs seem to pop up everywhere but they are still so=20 disconnected nd disparate as to defy collation.
 ;-)
 
Search on the web and in indexes = for:
 perception, difference, discrimination of=20 difference, distinction of difference. aesthetics, bioaesthetics, = Gregory=20 Bateson, context, education and epistmology, epistemology, = ontology, =20 play, the sacred, systems theory, Weber, Fechner, Weber-Fechner, = Douglas=20 Hofstadter.
 
Finally, the thing art has to offer than makes a = significant difference in learnig perception lies in art's roots in=20 PLAY. Playfulness is the modality throughj which the = learning of=20 perception ext4ends beyond a single discipline or context and = throughout all=20 phases of an individual's life. Work and study are linear, focal, = like=20 having blinders on to keep the eyes on the road ahead. Play, in = contrast to=20 work involves extention, the testing of limits and of borders. Play = is also=20 its own reward and motivation.
 
Mary Poppins had the thing right: "In every = job which=20 must be doen there is an element of fun...." Art offers the = possibility=20 of leading with that fun aspect.
In the end, in terms of learning perception = content makes=20 no different whatsoever but the things which draw our individual = attention=20 can make all the difference. If we can't find the thing that demands = to be=20 perceived and distinguished by our student she may never progress = beyond the=20 formal outer aspect. --For every person who must learn there is = a thing=20 which must be learned.... You find that thing and SNAP the task = becomes=20 play.... An artist finds for herself  unique personal = issues which=20 drive her work. Through that she grows and gains access to new = worlds. This=20 is what art offers too.
 
-henry
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