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by John Goldonowicz
Originally published in Art Education, November, 1985, Vol.
38, No. 6, p. 17

Like FRENCH or SPANISH, ART is a language that can be
learned and understood. It is a form of communication that
one can learn to read and speak through study and
practice. Reading art means understanding a visual
statement. Speaking art means creating a visual statement.
When art seems strange or meaningless, it is only that this
language is yet to be understood.

Like ENGLISH, ART has an established vocabulary and
grammar (the elements and principles of design). These
fundamentals of composition are the basis for appreciating
and producing works of art. All creativity must be channeled
through these rules of construction in order to make a clear
statement. To comprehend how art is put together is to be
visually literate.

Like SCIENCE, ART is based on a natural order and
relationship of elements. These elements, such as line and
color, have unique properties and can be explored in lab-
like projects and exercises that reveal individual
characteristics, as well as how these qualities can be
manipulated and how these elements can work together.
Through experimentation, one can discover the nature and
potential of art.

Like MATHEMATICS, ART possesses certain principles
that are logical, time-proven, and constant guidelines to
pictorial organization. An elective composition requires
thought, planning, and order. All parts must be considered
toward the whole. Concepts such as linear perspective and
color theory are specific examples of how art is as analytical
as it is emotional.

Like PHYSICAL EDUCATION, ART can require a sort of
visual toning—exercising one's eyes earnestly and
regularly. With conscientious practice, one's abilities can be
recognized, developed, and mastered. Through
perseverance, a faithful routine can lead to significant
accomplishment. A lazy or sporadic approach limits potential.
Gradual progress prevails over instant achievement.

Like SOCIAL STUDIES, ART promotes an awareness and
understanding of people and cultures. Art reflects the ideas
and ideals of societies, governments, and religions. Art has
been influenced by geography, war, and commerce. Art can
help us understand past civilizations and define our identity
for future generations. Art is a visual record of people and
their world.

Like MUSIC, ART is based on the refinement of one of our
senses. As music relates to how one listens and hears, art
focuses on looking and seeing—on visual sensitivity. In both
areas, the perception of subtlety is essential to grasping
variation and innovation. In music and art, the greatest
accomplishments are those in which subtlety and sensitivity
are balanced with skill and creativity.

Like RELIGION, ART can be a vehicle through which to tap
one's soul. Art can be a mirror of one's beliefs, one's
feelings, one's identity, one's relationship to others. Art can
express our secular and spiritual quality, our orientation
toward life. In exploring and exposing aspects of people's
souls, art can communicate that which is universal and that
for which there are no words.

by Elliot Eisner, Art Education Researcher and

1. The arts teach children to make good judgments
about qualitative relationships. Unlike much of
the curriculum in which correct answers and
rules prevail, in the arts, it is judgment rather
than rules that prevail.

2. The arts teach children that problems can have
more than one solution and that questions can
have more than one answer.

3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives. One of
their large lessons is that there are many ways to
see and interpret the world.

4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of
problem solving purposes are seldom fIxed, but
change with circumstance and opportunity.
Learning in the arts requires the ability and a
willingness to surrender to the unanticipated
possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in
their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we
can know. The limits of our language do not
define the limits of our cognition.

6. The arts teach students that small differences
can have large effects. The arts traffic in

7. The arts teach students to think through and
within a material. All art forms employ some
means through which images become real.

8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot
be said. When children are invited to disclose
what a work of art helps them feel, they must
reach into their poetic capacities to find the
words that will do the job.

9. The arts enable us to have experience we can
have from no other source and through such
experience to discover the range and variety of
what we are capable of feeling.

10.The arts' position in the school curriculum
symbolizes to the young what adults believe is
A “little” visual arts education is
simply not adequate and would
be considered unacceptable in any
other core academic area.

Teaching students to be
creative is a deliberate process, much like
teaching literacy or mathematics, and is
certainly just as important.

The skills learned through participation in the
visual arts help to equip our nation’s youth for the
challenges they will face in shaping the future.

The visual arts are essential to a high-quality and
balanced education.   NAEA
***** ARTS in EDUCATION *****