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What makes an Artist?...Or, a Philosopher or an Educator, for that matter?

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lawrence A. Parker/OCCTI (occti)
Fri, 12 Nov 1999 15:23:17 -0500

Lawrence A. Parker
Philosopher and Educational Consultant
The Ohio Center for Critical Thinking Instruction, Inc.
89 Grand Avenue
Akron, OH 44303-1004
330.762.5341 (under reconstruction)

I've been following the discussion on Artists and Art Teachers, and being
reminded of discussion which have gone around in my own profession regarding
who is a Philosopher and who is not. This also hooks into what a teacher of
Philosophy is and what such a teacher should teach.

I have decided, for myself, that what denotes a person as being of a
particular type or nature, such that we might typify that person as "An
Artist", "A Philosopher", or "An Educator", usually consists of one or more
essential attributes. I believe that for a Philosopher the most important
characteristic is the disposition to Inquire. Perhaps next in line would be
the disposition, once the inquiry has been made, to not settle for easy and
shallow answers.

For an Artist, it seems to me that a primary characteristic would be a
Creative drive toward producing works of art. Of course, this can be loaded
since "works of art (or, Art)" is perhaps ambiguous and open to a wide range
of interpretations.

An Educator, then, to me is someone who can encourage learning in an
another. Note that I do not convey the idea of someone who simply dispenses
knowledge or information; a book, a film, most anything can do that.
Learning is something else. If my address to the Edinboro Univ. Senate made
it to this list, then you will understand my distinction between 'knowledge
as information conveyed' and 'knowledge as the goal of learning.'

As many of you have noted, a degree in anything subject area does not
guarantee that you *are* that kind of person. In my own area, simply having
a degree, even a PhD, in Philosophy does not mean that one is a Philosopher.
Nor does getting a degree and certification in Education mean that you *are*
an Educator. I think that we've all known, as students and as colleagues,
enough people of this type to justify this last statement.

Now, all of that aside for a moment,

We face the legal questions of requirements, certifications, etc. Can an
Art Educator teach Elementary grades, all subjects? I think not; certainly
there are exceptions, but the law must be general and constructed to
minimize abuse and guarantee competence to the highest degree possible. By
the same token, Elementary Educators are not ceteris paribus ("all other
things being equal") qualified to teach Art.

What is, I think, revealing is what happens when we have a conjunction of
two disciplines, such as Art and Educator, Math Educator, Philosophy
Educator. Now the person filling this position must have two areas of
qualification. Thus, whereas they may all be Educators, proven and without
question, the question must also arise as to whether or not they have the
knowledge base *as well as* the dispositions or essential characteristics I
mentioned above. In the same way that my own discipline is named "Philo -
Sophia", the Love of Wisdom, I think that there must also be a "Love of..."
entailed in the other disciplines.

That said, I would be hard pressed to accept someone as being an Art
Educator who did not love the discipline as something that s/he was involved
in. And if s/he was not involved in it, how could s/he be involved in the
creative process? And if not involved in the creative process, then how as
an Artist?

As regards signing your work - is it your creation? Are you proud of it?
Are you ok with letting people know that it was your creative work?

Then sign it. Creativity, not unlike Philosophy, should never be and
rightly cannot be anonymous.

Larry Parker
(not Seiler(sp?), now that there are two of us!)

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