Having a rigorous, stable, strong, sequential education in the arts just might be nationally valued as a fundamental right of all students in our democratic society if we move our advocacy efforts from addressing the broad value of programs, to telling stories about the developmental benefits for students who are engaged in learning languages of expression that are grounded in aural notation, movement, re-presentation, and the visual arts.
One of the factors that impacts our public dialogue about the role of the arts in American public schooling is deciding what is to be provided as a given public right and what is to be set aside as a private option. We enjoy the freedom of local jurisdiction, and we suffer the inconsistencies of arts programs delivery across the country, in part, as a result.
One method for linking the arts in America to public purposes for improvement of our democracy might be to ground studio teaching approaches for aesthetic and arts education to the development and life of the student. The visual arts contribute to the public democratic purpose of prosperity (Wyszomirski, 2000) far beyond the perceived contributions of work cast as the contributions of non-profit industries. Everyday, in America’s schools, the best arts teachers practice a child-centered philosophy of self-discovery that educates for a vision of tomorrow and seeks to develop a consciousness of aesthetic form. Theirs is a philosophy that uses self-knowledge as the basis for building human relationships through art.
Connections between people and prosperity multiply faster as successes add up to feed, rather than limit, one’s self. Art is “soft technology” (Kelly, 1998, p. 161) that that both enhances and extends the self and relationships. Those who come to understand this rationality, and the services provided by arts education to sustain secure communities will seek highly qualified arts teachers who follow holistic goals in order to perpetuate a good and just society. Ultimately, the same sources of inspiration that feed artists, when operationalized by art teachers, will enable them to lead students to transform their lives in democratic service to others.
If we can connect as professionals in dialogue about the ways in which educational policies both impact the delivery of arts education and contribute to the development of culturally adept citizens, the arts just might be nationally valued as a fundamental right of all students who can contribute in a worthwhile way to help preserve our democratic society and make it prosper.
R. Barry Shauck, Assistant Professor and Head of Art Education – Boston University Barry holds a BS in art education and minor in philosophy with a concentration in ceramics from Frostburg State College, and an MFA in Art Education with a concentration in printmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art. He began his teaching career in Baltimore County, MD in 1972 and served as art department chairman at the middle and high school levels. An invitation was extended to him in 1976 to become an instructor for the Young People’s Studios at MICA. He was appointed countywide Resource Teacher for Gifted and Talented Art after completing twelve years as a studio classroom teacher at the secondary level in Baltimore County. Mr. Shauck became art supervisor for the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) two years later. He was asked to assume program directorship for YPS at MICA in 1987. Barry retired in 2002 from the HCPSS and as YPS Director at MICA to teach art education at BU. He is immediate past Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Art Education Advisory Council, a group sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Mr. Shauck has collaborated on a series of articles appearing in School Arts magazine called Teacher as Artist, Artist as Teacher. In 2005, his chapter ‘Developing a Culture for Arts Leadership’ was published in NAEA’s administration and supervision monograph, The Changing Roles of Arts Leadership. Barry served the Maryland Art Education Association in numerous capacities including President, and the National Art Education Association as Division Director for Supervision and Administration, 2005 Convention Coordinator for the national conference held in Boston, and he is currently NAEA President. He was honored by NAEA with the Marion Quinn Dix Leadership Award in 2004, and he has received other awards and recognition from state and national art education associations. Barry continues his artistic production maintaining sketchbooks and producing plein air pastel landscapes. His affiliation with the Hurwitz Center for Art Education at Maryland Institute College of Art is renewed summers as adjunct Professor to teach Administration, Leadership, and Supervision in the Masters of Arts in art education (research) program. He is currently ABD in the department of Administration, Training, and Policy Studies with a concentration in Human Resource Education at the School of Education, Boston University. The topic of research for his dissertation is Factors that affect Sources of Artistic Inspiration.
References for this blog included:
Kelly, K. (1998). New rules for the new economy. NY: Penguin Books.
Wyszomirski, M. (2000). Raison d’etat, raisons des arts: Thinking about public purposes. In Joni Cherbo & Margaret Wyszomirski, (Eds). The public life of the arts in America (pp. 50-78). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.