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Saturday, March 19, 2016

The importance of teaching the arts | Arts & Culture | Education | spiked

We shouldn't value arts education on the basis that it has social or economic benefits, but because it expands the mind and soul.

By WENDY EARLE
CONVENOR, ARTS & SOCIETY FORUM



The importance of teaching the arts | Arts & Culture | Education | spiked: Arts education has always been a contested area. Many arts educators have defended the arts in the school curriculum by emphasising their role in students’ moral and individual development. For example, EB Feldman, defending arts education in the US during the 1980s, argued that it should not be about creating artists but about something broader. He suggests arts education can imbue in young people a sense of the satisfaction that comes from working to create something, the ability to use and understand language effectively, and a profound sense of ‘the values that permit civilised life to go on’.



Like Elliot Eisner and other proponents of arts education on both sides of the Atlantic writing in the 1980s and 1990s, Feldman argues cogently, showing a deep knowledge of art and history and an even deeper commitment to humanist principles. Now, more often than not, arts education is framed instrumentally. It is defended as a means of supporting the rest of the school curriculum (to make it more interesting), a means to enhance students’ employability, and a means of developing a good environmentally aware, health-conscious citizen.
The arts have a complex relationship with society, but arts lovers need to make a case for arts education that doesn’t harness it to contemporary moral, civic, social or economic priorities. And we shouldn’t resort to implying that without it people are likely to be stupid or more inclined to crime and immoral behaviour, or even that it makes people more employable. The Gradgrind mentality of relying on ‘facts’ - that is, ‘evidence’ that arts do good - allows little space for an intellectual consideration of the complexities of arts-based experiences.
Furthermore, arguments for arts or cultural education, made by vociferous advocates in the UK cultural sector, too often rely on dubious ‘brain science’ as supposed evidence that the arts are good for us. Research claiming to show evidence of the benefits of the arts does not stand up to scrutiny, as recognised by a recent OECD report, Art for Art’s Sake?. Even El Sistema, the Venezuelan music-education programme, which takes impoverished young people and gives them a chance to perform music in public, shows the importance of clear focus, high motivation, collaborative effort and a lot of hard work, rather than music itself. Indeed, young people could achieve something similar by playing for a football team. The fact that people are so in awe of El Sistema says more about the low expectations of young people’s abilities than about the importance of the arts to society."



Continue reading: The importance of teaching the arts | Arts & Culture | Education | spiked



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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Autism girl’s art shows ‘extraordinary mastery’ | The Sunday Times

Iris Grace Carter-Johnson: ‘an intensive observation of nature’



Autism girl’s art shows ‘extraordinary mastery’ | The Sunday Times:



A leading art expert has described the paintings of a six-year-old girl with severe autisim as showing “an extraordinary mastery of techniques that one might find in any London contemporary art gallery”.
Bendor Grosvenor, who is part of the BBC1 Fake or Fortune team, was shown some of Iris Grace Carter-Johnson’s work without knowing her background or age. “The pictures also reveal an intensive observation of nature,” he said.
Iris Grace began to paint, almost by chance, three years ago. Now some of her originals have been likened to Monet’s Impressionist works of his garden and ponds at Giverny, while others have been compared to the American abstract artist Jackson Pollock. They sell for as much as £2,000; buyers include Angelina Jolie, while Olivia Colman and Ashton Kutchter are among her fans.
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