Education that Reflects the Current Cultural Aesthetic Experience

May, H. (2011). Shifting the Curriculum: Decentralization in the Art Education Experience. Art Education, 64(3), 33-41. Copyright, National Art Education Association (NAEA) 2011. www.arteducators.org.

This article examines the decentralized approach to art curriculum from a pedagogical point of view, acknowledging advantages and disadvantages for art educators, and its contribution to a curriculum that captures the current cultural aesthetic experience. By referring to research in art education and writings of curriculum theorists, I argue for an application of decentralized approaches to teaching visual art in contemporary learning environments, with emphasis on instigating critical thinking within classroom critiques of student artwork. The following topics are addressed: the connection between decentralized curriculum and complexity thinking, the significance of dialogical exchange between teacher and students, the concept of emergent knowledge, and the noted desire for flexible curricular models in art education. I conclude by providing accounts of collaborative learning within university studio art courses that occur in online environments, with the intent of provoking thought for art education at all levels. Throughout, I describe a theoretical framework for understanding decentralized curriculum as I argue for a contemporary art pedagogy that is reflective of contemporary life.

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