Date of Award
In this study, I examine why the subject of art has been marginalized in the public schools and why art continues to be vulnerable to budget cuts and reductions in staff despite the fact that national art education standards are now in place. I also suggest a way to remedy the situation. My analysis concerning why art has been marginalized comes from an integration of insights from three discourses: feminism, postmodernism, and the perspective implied by the literature and practices of the twelve step recovery community. Writers in all three discourses suggest that the world view of the dominant culture is based on a separation between self and other and between thought and feeling. Since artistic expression entails an integration of thought and feeling, the language of art may undermine the assumptions upon which modernist and patriarchal culture is based. Schools often reflect the values of the culture at large. It is therefore not surprising that art has been marginalized in the public school curriculum. I also suggest a link between the feminist and aesthetic developmental models. Feminist developmentalists such as Carol Gilligan contend that as people mature in this culture, they lose a sense of voice. Aesthetic developmentalists depict artistic development as a U-shaped curve in which the early childhood capacity for self expression drops into a trough of literalism in later childhood, and only returns to a new height in adulthood for a few individuals. For most people in this culture, artistic development is L-shaped since the capacity for self expression never returns. Both the feminist and the aesthetic models of development include a loss of voice in adulthood. I theorize that the same cultural forces that precipitate a loss of voice in a general sense may precipitate a loss of voice in an artistic sense. The solution that I suggest entails the development of a "school arts community" composed of classroom teachers, parents, local artists, and other members of the community committed to the school art program. I demonstrate how children who might otherwise be headed into the "literal stage" of artistic development, are encouraged to develop their voices as artists within the context of "the school arts community". I also emphasize the importance of collaborative educational practices, inspired by the Process Writing model, that encourage the emergence of individual voice in art. The dissertation is written to exemplify postmodernist principles of shifting points of view, blurring of boundaries between discourses such as "high" academic writing style and photojournalism. The text is laced with illustrations that dramatize the ideas and that bring to life the development of "the school arts community" as it actually unfolded. The case studies are executed in postmodernist style using an integration of photographs and illustrations and a quasi -fictional account of three students' artistic development. By quasi-fictional, I do not mean that the case studies were a deliberate fabrication but rather that they were developed from a personal point of view and not from the third person narrator's position associated with traditional research.
Number of Pages
Campbell, Wendy, "The Politics of Art Education in the Public Schools" (1998). Educational Studies Dissertations. 98.
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