Teaching Art History to Children: A Philosophical Basis

Jennifer Pazienza
1986 Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education  
The problems that give rise to philosophies emerge when the strife of ideas and experiences forces men back to basic assumptions in any field." ( Randall, J. H. Jr., 1958) Our own field of art education -and indeed all of education is now well beyond the threshold of a period of accelerated transition and significant change. Favored ideas and goals, which for some time have been assumed to be the proper bases for wise curriculum content and sound teaching practice, are now being held up to
more » ... ion (Barkan, 1962, p. 12). Manual Barkan recognized the value of curriculum development ideas expressed by Harvard psychologist Jerome Bruner and strongly suggested art education's adoption of them. Applying Bruner's (1962) thesis to learn ing in art education, children would gain an understanding of the funda mental structure of the subject art and its modes of inquiry. Intellectual activity is understood, for instance, to be the same in "kind" for the art historian doing historical inquiry out in the world as for the elementary school child in the classroom, the difference is one of "degree". As loud and compelling as it was, Barkan's call for change in art educa tion either fell on deaf or reluctant ears and those who were listening were unable to successfully adapt theory to practice. Now, nearly twenty-five years later, the Getty Report is calling our attention to the problem again. Translating theory into practice is a problem. It can be an even greater problem when a theory does not exist. Such is the case, I believe, with art history education. The continuous nonexistence of sound and successful art history education practice is due to the lack of a sound philosophical basis from which theories of art history education curriculum can be designed. The need for establishing an adequate philosophy of art history education would seem most desirable if the strife of ideas and experiences
doi:10.17077/2326-7070.1134 fatcat:qyuwmstywvebhozoduro6asbd4