abstract knowledge concrete knowhow of specific skills and processes and inner

Abstract knowledge concrete knowhow of specific

This preview shows page 32 - 34 out of 40 pages.

abstract knowledge, concrete knowhow of specific skills and processes, and inner drive; to downplay the importance of knowledge and knowhow in the creative process can only diminish it. The old Masters? So perhaps it is worth thinking more deeply about arts education and why it is a necessary part of a good education. W H Auden’s poem, ‘Musée des Beaux Artes’ comes to mind: ‘About suffering they were never wrong, The old Masters: how well they understood Its human position: how it takes place While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along…’ I studied this poem at school and it has always remained in my ear as a kind of rueful wisdom. The arts are part of the world we live in. Shakespeare’s language is part of our idiom, offering expression for every feeling and emotion, from despair to love. Great buildings make us wonder at human ingenuity and ambition. Paintings from Rembrandt’s self portraits to Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ and Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ have become popular and recognisable expressions of complex emotions, from the experience of aging to the horrors of war to the pleasure we take in the natural world. Novelists from Austen to Tolstoy to Orwell are frequently drawn on as sources of insights about the individual in changing societies. Great works of art become a common language through which we perceive and deal with our world. You don’t need to have read Auden’s poems or seen Shakespeare’s plays, much less studied them, to be part of the world in which they resonate. Insights about our existence - the human condition - formulated by artists, enter our lives through many different channels and often shape the processes through which we find meaning in our lives. However, at the very least, a good education provides young people with an appreciation of the importance of the arts: a sense of why they matter, where they come from, how they fit together, why they can be sources of such greater pleasure and insight, and what additional insights they can yield if you do study them. As spiked regular Frank Furedi has pointed out in his book, Wasted: Why Education isn’t Educating , the teacher’s role is to pass on the wisdom of generations, ‘to teach children about the world as it is’. He writes: ‘It is impossible to engage with the future unless people draw on the insights and
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knowledge gained through centuries of human experience. Individuals gain an understanding of themselves through familiarity with the unfolding of the human world.’ Similarly, Hannah Arendt described education as an essentially conservative process. It gives children a foundational knowledge of what the world is like so they can find their feet in it. Education should not be about instructing children in the art of living. Ideally, formal education should be a period of separation from the pressures and demands of daily life. The content of education should be (as Matthew Arnold expressed it nearly 200 years ago) the best that has been
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  • Fall '10
  • Angelica Magtibay
  • arts education

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