Philosophy, Research and Controversy

The philosophical issues raised by art education are fundamental: we have already noted the issue raised by those who doubt that art can or should be taught.  Even for those who accept the premise that art practice can be advanced by educational means there remains a significant challenge.  Ours is a culture built on the premise that what we know is that which we can explain in word and number.  Hence the adage that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ points to those things that are best perceived as gestalten or patterns.  However, this does not tell us what it is that we know or even if the act of recognition constitutes (non-verbal) knowledge.  [1]

Another aspect of the subject is its history.  Pevsner described the Academics of Art [2], but history needs not only to accumulate but also to be kept under review.  Bretton Hall College of the University of Leeds has hosted important archives since 1985 [3], but the subject is served by controversy as well as by scholarship [4].

[1] Stroud Cornock, Forms of Knowing in the Study of the Arts. In Marks, DF, Richardson, JTE and Russell, DG, editors (1986), Imagery 2: Proceedings of the Second Imagery Conference, Human Performance Associates, 202 – 207.

[2]  Nikolaus Pevsner (1940) Academies of Art. Cambridge: University Press.

[3] The National Arts Education Archive was established in 1985 at Bretton Hall College to provide a documentary trace of the development of Arts Education, in the UK and worldwide. It is based in the Lawrence Batley Centre.

[4] E.g. David Thistlewood's document dealing with The Developing Process. Also Madge, C. and Weinberger, B. (1973).  Art Students Observed.  London: Faber.