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>There is also an anti-establishment feeling that is almost required of
>visionary artists, that sees school and education generally as a function
>of "the establishment' and therefore anethema to the "creative spirit".
>I suspect it is the former aspect that stifles creativity on a broad social
>scale. The second is something I think we must learn to tolerate, even
>encourage, to allow students, who are the emerging young artists to grow
>and find their own voices. I suspect that if we ignore the one battle and
>spend our energies on the larger one, we are much more likely to heal the
I would like to suggest one addition to Kit's observations.
When I came to public education (teaching MS and now HS) after 20 + years in
the arts, I was struck by how much of my attention, time and energy was
demanded by student needs. These were basic needs which had little if
anything to do with art or art education. All of the problems of society
were coming to school with the kids and the critical physical and social
(behavioral) needs of the kids constantly placed stress on art learning and
on the art learning environment. These were needs which had to be faced
before their learning and my content area could have a chance.
There was (and still is) a great deal of difference between the world of
the professional artist (and the college (or adult) level art educator) and
the world of public education (where art is considered one of many elective
courses). I think that creative professionals in the field of art and
artist-educators who work with adults and college students realize that
the degree to which public educators can deal with the Fine Arts is quite
limited by the maturity level of the students and the host of other, basic
student needs which demand a priority over art learning.. As a result,
working artists and those who are teaching older art students frequently
view with contempt, those of us who work with the younger kids of our
society. I think it is hard for many of them to understand how or why anyone
in the arts could place the demands of teaching youngsters in the public
schools ahead of personal art making and creative communication of the self .
On the other hand, many of us working to teach art to a wide range of
children from our society frequently get so wrapped up in the world of
public education and the needs of our students that we forget that there
are other worlds and higher levels of art related involvement in our
society. Some of us are consumed by the demands of the work place that we
are unable to continue our own individual creative development. It is our
misfortune that our contact with the art world (exhibition, participation,
discussion, etc.) is quite limited by the primary demands and general nature
of our work place.
Certainly listservs such as artsednet and related developments on the
Internet will help to break down the sense of isolation which has been a
constant problem for public art educators. Within the same network, those
who work as artists and as educators for college and adult aged students
will catch a glimpse of and begin to value the efforts of those who work
with the children as they learn about the Fine Arts..