What does art education do for the individual and for society? Why do we teach art? How does art contribute to education at all levels? There are many good answers to these questions, but three stand out as crucial in today’s social and economic climate. We believe that art—and therefore art education—means three things that everyone wants and needs.
Art Means Language
Art is a language of visual images that everyone must learn to read. In art classes, we make visual images, and we study images. Increasingly, these images affect our needs, our daily behavior, our hopes, our opinions, and our ultimate ideals. That is why the individual who cannot understand or read images is incompletely educated. Complete literacy includes the ability to understand, respond to, and talk about visual images. Therefore, to carry out its total mission, art education stimulates language—spoken and written—about visual images. As art teachers we work continuously on the development of critical skills. This is our way of encouraging linguistic skills. By teaching pupils to describe, analyze, and interpret visual images, we enhance their powers of verbal expression. That is no educational frill.
Art Means Values
You cannot touch art without touching values: values about home and family, work and play, the individual and society, nature and the environment, war and peace, beauty and ugliness, violence and love. The great art of the past and the present deals with these durable human concerns. As art teachers we do not indoctrinate. But when we study the art of many lands and peoples, we expose our students to the expression of a wide range of human values and concerns. We sensitize students to the fact that values shape all human efforts, and that visual images can affect their personal value choices. All of them should be given the opportunity to see how art can express the highest aspirations of the human spirit. From that foundation we believe they will be in a better position to choose what is right and good.
We in the National Art Education Association are committed to this three-part statement about the importance of art instruction for
The four components of Discipline Based Art (art appreciation, aesthetics, criticism, and production) are addressed in the planning of each unit of study. While these components are equally important, they are not meant to be equally weighted in terms of time provided or emphasis in a lesson. Ideally, each instructional strategy or lesson plan should contain interrelated elements of each discipline. The application is determined by the individual teacher in regard to amount of time or emphasis to place on each.
A lesson may emphasize creative expression or refinement of skills, and it may introduce an historical fact or cultural context of the art form to be created as well as include aesthetics and criticism. It is the role of the art teacher to cover all the objectives stated in this document in his/her own way, allowing the students to develop individuality and creativity in each lesson.
Aesthetics - Makes and support value judgments, takes part in discussing the nature of art, and discusses value judgments of self and others.
Art History - Recognizes and responds to the fundamentals of art and its place in history.
Art Critique - Describing, analyzing, supporting, interpreting, and valuing works of art.
Art Production - Creating art through the application of skills, techniques, and processes appropriate to art media.
National Standards for Visual Arts K-12
1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
2. Using knowledge of structures and functions
3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
6. Making Connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Standards 1.1 and 1.2, respectively, articulate required knowledge and skills concerning the elements and principles of the arts, as well as arts history and culture. Together, the two standards forge a corollary to the NAEP Arts process of creating. Standard 1.1 includes four strands, one for each of the arts disciplines: A. Dance, B. Music, C. Theatre, and D. Visual Art; standard 1.2 includes a single strand: A. History of the Arts and Culture.
Standard 1.1 The Creative Process: All students will demonstrate an understanding of the elements and principles that govern the creation of works of art in dance, music, theatre, and visual art.
Standard 1.2 History of the Arts and Culture: All students will understand the role, development, and influence of the arts throughout history and across cultures.
Standard 1.3 is rooted in arts performance and thus stands as a corollary to the NAEP Arts process of performing/interpreting. Like Standard 1.1, standard 1.3 is made up of four arts-specific strands: A. Dance, B. Music, C. Theatre, and D. Visual Art.
Standard 1.3 Performing: All students will synthesize skills, media, methods, and technologies that are appropriate to creating, performing, and/or presenting works of art in dance, music, theatre, and visual art.
Standard 1.4 addresses two ways students may respond to the arts, including (1) the study of aesthetics and (2) the application of methodologies for critique. Standard 1.4 provides a corollary to the NAEP Arts process of responding. This standard pertains to all four arts disciplines, and is comprised of two strands related to the mode of response: A. Aesthetic Responses and B. Critique Methodologies.