Visual Education

Advocacy Flyer

Here’s a quick design for an advocacy flyer for art education. I aligned the three bullet points to Laura Chapman’s 3 purposes for art education outlined in her 1978 teacher training text, a solid foundation still strong after 40 years.advocacy-statement


Teleological Factors in Education: a Proposal

The intrinsic motivation factor in education is where each child’s individual telos, intention, purpose, or goal, intersects with the objectives of a lesson, the hopes of the teacher, the goals of administration, the standards of the state, and the ideals of society. How much do we understand about how student motivation intersects with learning? How would our field look through this lens? Would a study of purposes and cross-purposes of stakeholders in education, based on historical or contemporary documents or ethnographic observations, interviews, case studies, or narratives, shed light on economy of effort in educational reform?

Cross-purposes of stakeholders in education is an issue that seems to me to be at the heart of the struggle for all involved. In schools I see the most success when everyone’s purposes are aligned and the most discomfort when they are not. Experiencing moments of synchrony may be satisfying enough to keep teachers, students, administrators, governments, and society engaged through moments of conflict. Meanwhile, societal problems such as the current teacher shortages may come as a result of teleological dissonance. The issue merits analysis.

A literature review of the topic of intrinsic motivation would help to define the terms of the study, describing and classifying all types of motivation among students & teachers as well as all types of guiding philosophies of teachers and educational paradigms.

In any given educational situation the phenomenon of student motivation might be described qualitatively, resulting in specific insights, or quantitatively, leading to generalizations that may be more widely useful. The range of situations studied may include those sufficiently documented in history, such as the pedagogical efforts of Walter Smith or Victor Lowenfeld. It may otherwise consider the varying experiences of a single pupil across a chosen timeframe explored ethnographically, or the sociological implications of motivation in school among specific populations.

Artistic Development

Facing Multiple Pathways, the Choice IS the Curriculum: Starting From Where VCAE Has Left Us

Which path to choose for my art class? Will a lesson designing memes for social media using one-to-one Chromebooks engage students and give them opportunity to master the skills they need to succeed in the world of art?

Art education still seems to lean heavily on “universal” elements and principles of art introduced a century ago in the context of emerging modernism. More current guidelines for learning in art are at hand: Olivia Gude (2004) proposed a collection of principles of art for a postmodern era. Paul Duncum (2007) proposed 7 principles of Visual Culture Art Education (VCAE) for authentic art learning. Hetland’s (2007) Studio Thinking (ST) framework offered a new approach to teaching artistic habits of mind, or dispositions.

As a paradigm, the Studio Thinking framework seems to have gained the most mass and momentum. Whereas attempts to align art in school with a postmodern art world of “many truths with many narratives, and the blurring of the distinction between high and popular culture,” as Duncum (2009, p. 67) describes VCAE, may have had a destabilizing effect on art educators whose own love for the world of traditional “high culture” art motivated them to teach, Studio Thinking provided new perspective without prescribing an aesthetic or dislodging any anchors to familiar studio structures involving painting, ceramics, photography, design, sculpture and drawing. Its purpose was to describe real benefit of arts education taken seriously. Art teachers readily turn to a flexible framework based on established art programs rather than aim for multiple moving targets of praxis in the context of postmodern art broadly defined as visual culture.

The popular Studio Thinking framework doesn’t preclude postmodernism or visual culture art education. It accommodates diverse aesthetics, ideologies, and artistic purposes of both the past and the present, while meeting the need for articulation of arts education’s distinct contribution to human development. Teachers equipped with it have the freedom to choose a path into centuries-old art traditions as well as explore the breadth of art in visual culture. At this point, all paths are open, none is predominant, how does an art teacher select what to teach? What can art teachers do in support of students following multiple paths, growing toward multiple endpoints of artistic development (Duncum, 1999) ? How do we teach multiple aesthetics, ideologies, and artistic purposes?

What to teach next? The choice is the curriculum.

If selecting art lessons for their value in developing artistic dispositions, nearly any line of artistic inquiry will do. Artistic dispositions are the habits of mind that are well-developed among working artists and serious art students of any ideology. They are also believed to be essential thinking skills in the 21st century, and as a set, they overlap with the dispositions demanded of other domains, such as mathematics, science, engineering, and language.

But what lesson next? The decision is most difficult when it is monocratic, but when the next lesson is presented as one of many options for student artists, as a choice that is theirs to make, the teacher’s choosing becomes a model of authenticity in a domain of multiple trajectories, and students may learn to value a wide range of inquiry in visual art. The subtext of the choice-based curriculum is that visual art involves individual choices and aesthetics. The breadth of art lessons the teacher chooses deepens the curriculum.

Art education centered on student choice is authentic pedagogy, valid in a multidirectional art world, and appropriate for the contemporary art classroom works toward artistic dispositions. Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), (Jaquith & Hathaway, 2012) a choice-based approach developed over decades, allows the students multiple paths of development toward acquiring artistic dispositions.

Choice-based art programs are fertile ground for authentically varied art learning. Worrying less about the implications of autocratic lesson selection, TAB teachers are likely to more freely incorporate art lessons on visual culture, contemporary art, and even architectural or engineering design processes. Taking a chance on an interesting new, unfamiliar, or possibly unsuccessful direction for learning in one’s class echoes the kind of creative risk-taking behavior expected in any art world and models the intellectual risk-taking expected of creative students in a creative stepping stone environment (Stanley & Lehman, 2015).