The Arts and the Creation of Mind

The Arts and the Creation of Mind

ELLIOT W. EISNER
Copyright Date: 2002
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1np7vz
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  • Book Info
    The Arts and the Creation of Mind
    Book Description:

    Although the arts are often thought to be closer to the rim of education than to its core, they are, surprisingly, critically important means for developing complex and subtle aspects of the mind, argues Elliot Eisner in this engrossing book. In it he describes how various forms of thinking are evoked, developed, and refined through the arts. These forms of thinking, Eisner argues, are more helpful in dealing with the ambiguities and uncertainties of daily life than are the formally structured curricula that are employed today in schools.Offering a rich array of examples, Eisner describes different approaches to the teaching of the arts and the virtues each possesses when well taught. He discusses especially nettlesome issues pertaining to the evaluation of performance in the arts. Perhaps most important, Eisner provides a fresh and admittedly iconoclastic perspective on what the arts can contribute to education, namely a new vision of both its aims and its means. This new perspective, Eisner argues, is especially important today, a time at which mechanistic forms of technical rationality often dominate our thinking about the conduct and assessment of education.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13357-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    The Arts and the Creation of Mindsituates the arts in our schools and examines how they contribute to the growth of mind. Traditional views of cognition and the implications of these views for the goals and content of education have put the arts at the rim, rather than at the core, of education. Schools see their mission, at least in part, as promoting the development of the intellect. “Hard” subjects such as mathematics and science are regarded as primary resources for that development, and the processes of reading, writing, and computing are believed to be the best means for...

  5. 1 THE ROLE OF THE ARTS IN TRANSFORMING CONSCIOUSNESS
    (pp. 1-24)

    To understand the role of the arts in transforming consciousness we must start with the biological features of the human organism, for it is these features that make it possible for us humans to establish contact with the environment in and through which we live. That environment is, in its most fundamental state, a qualitative one made up of sights and sounds, tastes and smells that can be experienced through our sensory system. Although the world of the newborn may indeed be the blooming, buzzing confusion that William James once described, it is, even in its apparently chaotic condition, an...

  6. 2 VISIONS AND VERSIONS OF ARTS EDUCATION
    (pp. 25-45)

    Visions of the aims and content of arts education are neither uniform nor discovered simply by inspection. What is considered most important in any field—the aims to which it is directed—is a value, the result of a judgment, the product not only of visionary minds and persuasive arguments, but of social forces that create conditions that make certain aims congenial to the times.¹ Yet we often assume that the aims to which a field is directed are given by the field itself: mathematics has aims defined by mathematics, scientific studies aims defined by science, historical studies aims defined...

  7. 3 TEACHING THE VISUAL ARTS
    (pp. 46-69)

    Understanding competing conceptions of art education and the conditions that give rise to them, while important for an enlightened view of the field, is inadequate for making any of those conceptions real in the lives of children. For that to happen, one must address problems where the rubber hits the road: in the classroom. Two of the most important factors affecting students’ experiences in the classroom are the quality of teaching they encounter and the quality of the curriculum provided. This chapter examines the teaching of art.

    How shall we think about teaching art? More than a few think art...

  8. 4 WHAT THE ARTS TEACH AND HOW IT SHOWS
    (pp. 70-92)

    What the arts teach is influenced by both what and how something is taught. That is, the arts, like other fields, can be taught in different ways for different ends. The aims of any field are not determined solely by its subject matter; they are also determined by policymakers and teachers who decide what is important to teach.

    But regardless of intended aims, students learn both more and less than they are taught. They learn less, for seldom are all the hopes and expectations held by those who teach realized in practice; goals, in some sense, are always out of...

  9. 5 DESCRIBING LEARNING IN THE VISUAL ARTS
    (pp. 93-147)

    If children’s artwork is examined in social rather than in individual terms, it becomes apparent that what they learn when working on a painting or sculpture is not simply what they learn about dealing with a material; it is also a function of what they learn from others as they become members of a community. Social norms, models for behavior, opportunities to converse and share one’s work with others are also opportunities to learn. This broad social conception of the sources of what, where, and how children learn, not only in the arts but in all areas, is referred to...

  10. 6 THE CENTRALITY OF CURRICULUM AND THE FUNCTION OF STANDARDS
    (pp. 148-177)

    In previous chapters we examined some examples of what teaching looks like in the visual arts and encountered descriptions of the forms of learning that are reflected in the features of children’s artwork. But what about the school’s program; what about the curriculum?

    The curriculum is central to any educational enterprise. The curriculum constitutes that array of activities that give direction to and develop the cognitive capacities of individuals. You will remember that I include under the termcognitive capacitiesthe capacity to feel and to act as well as the capacity to deal with the abstractions found in what...

  11. 7 THE EDUCATIONAL USES OF ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION IN THE ARTS
    (pp. 178-195)

    Although the terms are often used interchangeably,assessmentgenerally refers to the appraisal of individual student performance, often but not necessarily on tests.Evaluationgenerally refers to the appraisal of the program—its content, the activities it uses to engage students, and the ways it develops thinking skills.

    Both assessment and evaluation have been unwelcome concepts in arts education, for several reasons. First, the conduct of assessment is predicated on judgments about the quality of student work, and such judgments are often regarded as impediments to the liberation of creative potential. Second, both assessment and evaluation connote to some the...

  12. 8 WHAT EDUCATION CAN LEARN FROM THE ARTS
    (pp. 196-208)

    To suggest that education has something to be learned from the arts is to turn topsy-turvy the more typical view that the arts are basically sources of relief, ornamental activities intended to play second fiddle to the core educational subjects. Yet those interested in enhancing the processes of education, both in and out of schools, have much to learn from the arts. Put simply, the arts can serve as a model for teaching the subjects we usually think of as academic.

    This chapter describes what art’s lessons might be for education in general and indicates why they are important lessons...

  13. 9 AN AGENDA FOR RESEARCH IN ARTS EDUCATION
    (pp. 209-229)

    Before discussing the kind of research that might strengthen arts education, I would like to make two points regarding the development of a research agenda for arts education. The first is that what the field needs is anagenda.By an agenda I mean not simply more unrelated studies, but, rather, research programs of related studies that ultimately will advance our understanding of some of the important issues and problems in the field. It is unlikely that singleshot studies will have the power needed to add significantly to what we come to understand about, say, the factors that advance various...

  14. 10 SUMMARY AND SIGNIFICANCE
    (pp. 230-242)

    This chapter brings to a close the journey that we have taken. The road has had many turns, as it must in a field that addresses so many complex issues and that requires that so many be considered. It is now time to distill some of the ideas that we have encountered. This chapter revisits thirteen important ideas that have been elaborated in the preceding pages.

    1.Meaning is not limited to what words can express. Among the most important ideas thatThe Arts and the Creation of Mindaddresses is the idea that humans are meaning-making creatures. All of...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 243-253)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 254-258)