Emotion and the arts Essay
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The language arts and the fine arts follow parallel developmental patterns in childhood. As in the other phases of child growth certain developmental patterns are characteristic of growth in both the language arts and the fine arts. The language arts, like the fine arts, reach their highest peak for the individual in creative expression. Even a decade ago much teaching of art and musical and most teaching of language emphasized the mechanics involved in skill activities typical of these areas.
Children’s language products, like their art products, should not be judged solely by adult standards.
The modern teacher hopes that the oral report, dramatization, contribution to discussion, or choral reading is pleasurable; that the child has improved in terms of his own past performance; and that the activity has contributed to wholesome personality growth. In general the process, not the product, is the thing-in both the language arts and the fine arts. In both the language arts and the fine arts, the study of mechanics has a place as a contribution to more artistic expression.
In their best forms, both the language arts and the fine arts involve a large measure of interpretation. The language arts and the fine arts have similar values for children; they have similar content in that both are included in that part of our cultural heritage which may be described as “expressive arts. ” Many language activities may be called arts in their own right. It is apt today as it has ever been to speak, for example, of “the art of conversation,” “the art of persuasion,” and “the art of writing. ” These and other language activities are arts in and of themselves.
They are arts because they involve aesthetic experience, personality enrichment, and creative urges and expression and even because, less frequently perhaps, they involve fine craftsmanship and, on occasion, original contribution to our culture. For this reason, too, the various language arts can be developed more as arts by the classroom teacher. School people have accepted this idea in theory (Rokeach 1968). Art is a projection in material form, of a wide range of emotional and intellectual experiences. It thus adds countless and important records to those which written documents have preserved for us.
Art also supplements literature in a special sense, because it not only furnishes material in additional quantity but material which is peculiarly different in kind. The arts of form with their vocabulary of visible shapes and colors can embody and preserve certain significant human interests which literature, from the very nature of the indirect terms which it uses, cannot express. These records of art are intimate in a unique sense, because in many cases we see the actual forms and surfaces which the artists and craftsmen produced. For this reason original art material is peculiarity confidential.
It transmits, in addition to the actual subject matter, an element akin to what inflection and gesture add to words. Few educators would disagree with the proposition that education transmits values; art education makes a significant and unique contribution to general education in the study of values. The values embody in visual forms, of course, are not about the techniques of art alone, but speak to the broad concerns of humankind. Indeed, the values present in visual forms are but visual representations of values taught in other subjects.
Visual knowing renders values-which are otherwise abstract concepts-vivid and concrete (Rokeach 1968). It also augments the learning of values by creating a bond with what is taught in other disciplines and what is taught in other disciplines and what is experienced in other aspects of life. Students who learn to read visual forms, to know visually what values and counter-values can look like, can then critically examine and question them for their merit, relevance, and utility. The concept of values is complex at best, and the amount of literature on the subject is vast.
To make matters more complicated, the word values often is used synonymously to mean beliefs and attitudes. This imprecise usage occurs not only in everyday parlance, but also in much of the social psychology literature. Unfortunately, such confused frequently obscures the issues that the words purport to represent. Each of us has a general approach to life, an ideology concerning the self and the physical and social environment. And ideology is composed of organized and interrelated beliefs, attitudes, values, and the behaviors that support them.
An ideology can be consciously held, preconscious held, or subconsciously held. The collective ideology of a culture is represented in its power structures-political, economic, educational, aesthetic sexual, religious, and so on. These structures define the status quo which, in turn, strongly influences the way we feel, think, and act with respect to love and family, work and play, the individual and society, nature and the environment, war and peace, beauty and ugliness, violence and love. An art education shares with general education the concern about the values of humankind.
Art education, however, offers a particularly unique contribution: the art content of art education-visual forms-makes values, which are abstract concepts, vivid and concrete. To transmit the values of our heritage is a laudable educational endeavor. To transplant those values indiscriminately into contemporary culture without first critically examining them is unsound-that would be indoctrination rather than education. The critical examination of values helps to promote the progress of civilization. Art education makes a unique contribution to that prigress. Our future depends upon our creativity and our time.
As our physical resource become less plentiful, we must rely more heavily on human resources-our creative selves. We must use the time of our lives creatively. The arts meet a basic human need: creative personal expression. In addition to their intrinsic value, the arts give insights into other aspects of life, helping people understand themselves and the world in which they live. It is recognized that quality education should include the development of skills, knowledge, concepts, values, and sensitivities with which to understand and engage the culture of a nation.
The arts offer significant opportunities for this development. Learning must incorporate the arts as a central, significant, and integral component. Artistic and educational institutions must recognize and support this concept. The arts can greatly enrich our lives and in so doing have basic value. The arts can and should touch upon every aspect of our lives. Through education we hope to extend appreciation of the arts to all citizens and to build discerning audiences. The arts filled with possibilities.
Given the chance, the arts will not fail us. We must not fail the arts.
References: Eliade, M. , & Cappadona, D. A. (1985). Symbolism, the sacred, and the arts. Crossroad Publishing. Hjort, John A. , & Laver, S. (1997). Emotion and the arts. Oxford University Press. Kieran, M. , & Lopes D. M. (2003). Imagination, philosophy, and the arts. Routledge. Kouwenhoven, J. A. (1967). The arts in modern American civilization. W. W. Norton. Rokeach, M. (1968). Beliefs, attitudes, and values. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc.