Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: tenth anniversary issue
[Unfulfilled opportunities in art education], pp. -54 PDF (18.9 MB)
54 greater understanding and critical modes of inquiry. Yet, even here, the teacher has to be possessed of an understanding of alternative considerations and varying modes of investigation and response. It may be that individual students do not find the teacher's attitudes and avenues of examination hospitable. Consequently, new avenues of insight have to be provided for students; there is a continuity of openness in the teaching of art. The ordering of content and the development of curriculum in art are thus subject to the crucial nature of the act of teaching. Any art curriculum is efficacious only as a teacher acts as exemplar, as partner in dialogue, as provoker and prompter, as benevolent and critical guide, as a source of understanding and as a confidant wherein the role of teacher and student may be reversed. This can lead to inconsistency and to paradox. Perhaps passionate commitment does not permit the choice of alternative viewpoints, perhaps personal expressiveness impinges upon the students' screen of perception, perhaps the contingencies of existence set up antipathies and oppositions, anxieties and tensions. Then what? Well, it appears to me that these have to be recognized as part of the teaching art, respected and resolved. And it is indeed a liberally educated and vitally functioning individual who has to serve as the teacher of art. In no other way can the unfulfilled opportunities in art education be fulfilled. To paraphrase that eminently perceptive art critic and cultural observer, Harold Rosenberg, "The essence of art teaching or aesthetic education is an imagination, cultivated in metaphor and the ability to express well within such contexts." Indeed, the teacher of art should have a bit of the poet about him. The Open-Ended Sense of Self In projecting the expressive nature of the teaching act, we also affirm and should accept a diversity of teaching styles. The freedom of the teacher is underscored, but so is his or her responsibility to act as an artist-teacher. This implies a commitment to an open set of values, searching out the most telling forms with which, not only to communicate, but to engage in dialogue. Such dialogue, especially in art, if it is not beset by adherence to conventional learning resolutions or constrained by predetermined programs, achieves an existential valuing of each student as an individual person. A person, in the final analysis, who should be recognized as the most important resource in education - the student himself. It is to clearly point up such human existential qualities that the earlier appeal to study the influences of culture was made. The influences which exert an unwitting or arbitrarily defined determinism have to be assessed in as much as they may divest students of the freedom necessary to make personal rather than group or institutional determinations. Similarly, research stemming from the social sciences, particularly as it relates to art, has to get off its hobby horse of asking what is a student as if he were less than a singularly existent being and ask who is the student. So we return to the idea that not only art but the art in teaching leads to a revelation of self. Art education in stressing the intrinsic nature of the experience which art provides, asserts as well that in the process the creator or the observer is creating his own world. The ultimate responsibility for this act lies within each of us, student and teacher alike. Hopefully, the artistic and aesthetic dimensions of art education especially refine and intensify the feeling as well as the cognitive aspects of the educable nature of the student, establishing significant bases of humane literacy for personal decisions and attitudes. The art teacher in valuing the unique possibilities in each student accepts whatever conditions and qualities with which a particular teaching situation confronts him. These then become the viable elements which have to be expressively ordered, but ordered as both artistic factors and personally humanistic qualities suggest. Genuine and naturally evolving opportunities for art in education may then establish themselves on an open but fertile basis as the teacher of art rides the waves of contingency in an adventurous voyage of the imagination.