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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue

Kaufman, Irving
[Unfulfilled opportunities in art education],   pp. [39]-54 PDF (18.9 MB)

Page 41

arts are afforded in contemporary
Specifically, in relationship to art education,
some critical evaluations of goals,
research methodologies and dissemination
of concepts and materials are in order.
Otherwise, the opportunities that are being
readied will reinforce an already
irrelevant situation or like the old amateur
hour night practice in the theatre will
have to be yanked from stage center
by the hook of succeeding savants.
It is suspect, no matter where the energies
come from, to adopt attitudes, modes of
inquiry, and systems deriving from
scientific analysis in order to uncover
artistic processes or aesthetic relationships.
Art in a test tube, aesthetics plotted on
validated coordinates. The learned
journals are replete with discrete studies,
controlled experiments, charts, graphs and
tables of numbers and signs, prescribed
data evaluation criteria, investigative
parameters, and an almost endless host of
procedural gimmicks or up tight
formulations. These are not only foreign
to art or its contemplation but hostile and
destructive at many junctures of concern.
The rather insensitive appeal to a kind of
pedagogical systems engineering, even
if at times it is called curriculum
development or educational
conceptualization, cannot but exacerbate
the already culturally debilitating condition
of a lack of affective understanding
and personal expressiveness. It most
certainly deepens the sense of crisis that
already grips education, a crisis brought
about by the very depersonalization that is
being utilized as an instrument of analysis
and resolution. Though acting in crisis
may have many creative and rewarding
results (the group adrenalin is set astir and
the verve of battle is upon the
protagonists), indeed, most art is created
in crisis, the problems may also be
buried under sham, irrelevancy, simple
wrongheadedness and expediency.
The "Irreducible Vagueness" of Art
in Education
Certainly, research is necessary in art
education, in fact in all of the arts as they
may function creatively in education.
However, it would seem that such
"research" stems from the internal and
particular "logic" of the arts; that it be
informed and fashioned by what art does as
it plays upon the human spirit; that the
artist and the critic both should be
exemplars of insight at least as much as
the behavioral scientist or systems
specialist; that educational goals remain
qualitative, stressing the worth of
uniqueness central to artistic understanding,
and vital, accepting the human significance
of artistic expressiveness even if
inconsistency and what Morris Weitz
refers to as an "irreducible vagueness"
of style concept results. This is especially
significant in the current scene as
research becomes the sacred cow and as the
specific field of art education expands to
include aesthetics, art history and art
criticism. In an area replete with
academicism  and intellectual wall building,
the educator must tread with caution upon
the paths already hacked out of the
wilderness and use sparingly any
machinery to cut his own way through the
unknown for others to follow. Obviously,
opportunities for experience in the arts
will grow in quantity as the result of any
research and curriculum expansion.
However, to offer a cliche, it is the quality
that counts. Art is a value, an activity,
an exchange, not a thing. Valery wrote most
knowingly of this, and to quote him is
to offer an opportunity for wise guidance
to the art educator and researcher.
"All the artist can do is to fashion
something that will produce a certain
effect on someone else's mind. There
will never be any accurate way of comparing
what has happened in the two minds;
and moreover, if what has happened in the
one were communicated directly to the
other, all art would collapse, all the
effects of art would disappear. The whole
effect of art, the effort the author's work
demands of the consumer, would be
impossible without the interposition,
between the author and his audience, of a
new and impenetrable element capable of
acting upon other men's being. A creator
is one who makes others create."
That impenetrable element cannot be
bypassed or subjected to irrelevant factor
analysis without making the art education
experience look ridiculous, false or
artificial. Consequently, investigation in art
education must overlay reasoned purpose
with passion, submit analysis to
expressiveness and merge criticism with
creativity. The art educator accepting

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