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Current Trends in Art Education

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Art used to be the class children attended to release pent up energy and paint a picture, but no more. In this lesson, learn about the current trends in art education and how it is being incorporated into modern teaching curriculums.

Defining Art Education

Art education in schools was once a cornerstone of curriculum. In addition to reading, writing, and math instruction, early educators understood the value of teaching students about the arts. As the focus on academic achievement began to take center stage, art instruction took a back seat to make room for the devotion of more class time for the basics. Recently, however, art education has seen a resurgence. Art education is the instruction of visual art in the academic setting. We categorize it specifically as visual art in order to distinguish it from other forms of art, such as music or drama. For the purposes of this lesson, art education refers to that of visual art like painting, drawing, and sculpting.

The Reason for Change

Why are educators carving out more space for art education? Recent focus on well-rounded learners has tilted the trend towards incorporating art as a disciplined focus in schools. Art instruction now focuses on the same expectations, development, and instructional requirements as other core subjects. Common Core, and other broad reaching curriculum design, specifies the importance of integrating subjects and students are now asked to read, write, and speak about art in their core classes. Art is finally starting to be viewed as an important contributor to our lives and community. Educating children about art not only allows them to explore their own potential talent and passions, but also appreciate the talents others possess as well.

The New Goal in Art Education

The shift from a backseat, to front and center, focus in art education has meant some new ideas in how art should be instructed, including:

  • Art teachers are now required to create lesson plans with graduated objectives and test outcomes.
  • Art should be taught in a sequence, as we do with math and history.
  • The focus on instruction is twofold: learning skills, such as painting, and historical understanding, such as the impact of art during the Renaissance period.
  • Teachers need to teach to objectives and specific skills, and students need to be held accountable for reaching them.
  • Assessments should be administered to determine a student's understanding of concepts taught.
  • Professional development for art educators should have the same focus as core instructors.

Can you see how art is now being treated as a core subject instead of bonus time for teachers and students? All of these ideas show great strides being made in art education and deserve a closer look as to how they play out in the classroom.

art education

Art Education - Then and Now

Then

The art room is stocked with construction paper, glue, scissors, and markers. Art teachers follow the school's units of study mainly to reinforce low-level skills such as hand-eye coordination and small motor grip. Their limited supplies and time with students meant they weren't able to dig too deeply into what they knew was important in arts, namely creativity, expression, and meaning. Students came to class for 45 minutes once a week and started a project that could be completed within that time frame. Because doing art took much of this small sliver of time, little actual instruction took place, giving students the idea that art was more of a crafty time spent coloring and cutting. Van Gogh and Degas? Never heard of them.

Now

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