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  • National Art Education Association

    Framing the Art CurriculumAuthor(s): Mary Ann StankiewiczSource: Art Education, Vol. 50, No. 3, Framing the Art Curriculum (May, 1997), pp. 4-5Published by: National Art Education AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3193691 .Accessed: 15/06/2014 10:19

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    t used to be that, when you were stuck for a way to begin writing on a particular topic, you went to the dic- tionary, looked up the definition of a key term, then reported that definition as a way of establishing your

    credibility to discuss the topic. Recently I have heard a few speakers introduce their remarks by reporting results from

    tamiing searches on the World Wide Web.

    Awb s part of my preparation for writing this editorial (or maybe as

    ..; -- ^ part of the process of avoiding

    '"." .

    .. writing), I looked up "trame" in my cloth-bound dictionary, then did a quick Internet search using frame" and "framing" as my

    ,- noun;search terms. From both the dic- o bsionary and the Internet I learned

    that "frame" could refer to pic- ture-framing and to construc-

    f- ~~,.tion The Internet afsosincluded web sites related to the creation

    and collection of animation cels, and to technical uses of "frame"

    I? > ii'D in relation to computer technolo-

    iS fa : \ r by the dictionary distinguished "to t% J8i;~~ \ frame" as a verb from "frame" as a A

  • the Art Curriculum clearly made by real people. Certain brief descriptions made me chuckle, not my usual response when reading a dictionary. The Internet search put me at the center of an interactive process of gathering information and, simultaneously, thinking about the significance of what I found. The dictionary put me at the foot of a ladder, looking upward (and backward), but still engaged in an interactive process of finding information and making meaning.

    An art curriculum can be more like a dictionary or like the Internet. Eisner (1979) has explained that "a curriculum is a pro- gram that is intentionally designed to engage students in activi- ties or events that will have educational benefits for them" (p. 40). The art curriculum frames experience, structuring it, setting certain experiences off from the flow of life, constructing encounters that will, we hope, help students learn in, about, and through art. The art curriculum provides a framework within which students gather information, determine significance, and make meaning.

    But what frames the curriculum? Tom Anderson and Sally McRorie assert that aesthetic beliefs and aesthetic questions provide the framework for learning in art. Their article echoes ideas introduced by Arthur Efland's classic "Conceptions of Teaching in Art Education" (1979). Efland argued that certain philosophies of art could be aligned with approaches in psychol- ogy to provide a framework for categorizing orientations to art teaching. Mia Johnson, on the other hand, utilizes an education- al framework of five curriculum orientations in her discussion of computer art curricula, concluding that such traditional frame- works must change in response to new technologies.

    As a unique subject matter, art education must draw on the worlds of visual art for content and approaches to that content. At the same time, art education is also part of a pedagogical world, a world of moral decisions about what learning is of most worth to which human beings. Art education is where aesthetic and ethical values join. Perhaps it is this moral dimension that causes arts councils and art museums to pro- mote art education most strongly when under fire for support- ing outrageous art or for elitism. All art educators base their professional practices on arguments that art is good for

    human beings. They differ, however, in explaining just why and in what ways art is good.

    Bob Lloyd argues that art is good because it, like the dictio- nary, offers us a clear and orderly structure that helps us perceive significant contrasts in form and function. Formalism, as Anderson and McRorie explain and Lloyd demonstrates, frames art as a universal language that can be universally valued for its intrinsic qualities, distancing the art object from the messiness of everyday life. In contrast to Lloyd's formalist stance, June Julian and Mary Stokrocki each argue that the art curriculum should fit into a contextualist frame. As Anderson and McRorie explain, a contextualist frame for the art curriculum reconnects art and life. Julian asserts that reconnecting art and life requires a postmod- ern backpack, Internet technology, collaborative learning, and openness to the potential of less structured experiences. Stokrocki looks to rites of passage in small-scale cultures, rather than high tech, as sources for middle school art curricula.

    Just as an elaborately carved and gilded frame tends to set a painting farther off from daily life, so comparing only the aes- thetic orientations of different approaches to art curriculum tends to highlight contrasts. Art educators who advocate a for- malist approach to curriculum and art educators who embrace contextualism are united in their moral commitment that art is good for people. Curriculum development and reform require us to balance attention to aesthetic orientations with awareness of the world outside that frame. We need to reflect not only on our own aesthetic values but also on the question, "What do our children need to know and be able to do to become the best pos- sible human beings?" (Boston, 1996, p. 4).

    Mary Ann Stankiewicz Editor

    REFERENCES Boston, B. 0. (1996, October 28). Educating for the workplace through

    the arts. Business Week, special advertising section. Efland, A D. (1979). Conceptions of teaching in art education. Art

    Education, 32(4), 21-33. Eisner, E. W. (1979). The educational imagination. New York:

    Macmillan.

    MAY 1997 / ART EDUCATION

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    Article Contentsp.4p.5

    Issue Table of ContentsArt Education, Vol. 50, No. 3, Framing the Art Curriculum (May, 1997), pp. 1-62Front Matter [pp.1-3]An EditorialFraming the Art Curriculum [pp.4-5]

    A Role for Aesthetics in Centering the K-12 Art Curriculum [pp.6-14]Souvenirs of Formalism: From Modernism to Postmodernism and Deconstruction [pp.15-22]In a Postmodern Backpack: Basics for the Art Teacher On-Line [pp.23-42]Instructional Resources: Looking into Oceanic Art [pp.25-40]Orientations to Curriculum in Computer Art Education [pp.43-47]Rites of Passage for Middle School Students [pp.48-55]And Now, on Another MatterSome Thoughts on Publishing in the Field of Art Education or You Can't Bake a Round Cake in a Square Pan [pp.56-60]

    Back Matter [pp.29-62]