Brock University is a serious school

School art education

Art education (see Georg Peez “Art Education”) is older than general education; nevertheless, it only experienced its specific development in this context. The technically important discourses in the context of the state school system have developed as an integral part of classic educational concepts. An important motivation for the art educator movement was the confrontation with the popular, but technocratic drawing method of the Hamburg school councilor Adolf Stuhlmann. This was contrasted with a child-related examination of artistic and handicraft educational content, thereby not only influencing the school reform movements, but also shaping awareness of the content, objectives, potentials and limits of school art mediation. The extracurricular art education that emerged in the 1970s (cf. Mayrhofer / Zacharias 1977) emerged as a distinction from school practice.

The school art education is not a homogeneous matter, but exposed to numerous influences. What is meant are country-specific accentuations such as curricular requirements, training and further education systems and, above all, the different school types and levels.

In the following, central structural elements of a school art education are presented. This is followed by an accented description of the school-level accents.

Aisthesis vs. Aesthetics

Art education has two reference fields or reference disciplines: On the one hand, it relates to a general education of the human being in the sense of a basic aesthetic experience formation (aesthesis). On the other hand, it is also the school place where the visual arts, visual everyday culture in different media (aesthetics) can be encountered.

EstheticeExperience buildingG: This refers to a general educational principle that says that people educate themselves from the start - primarily aesthetically. Starting from the sensory activity, which is condensed into aesthetic patterns, aesthetic experiences develop, whereby new and amazing things are compared with and integrated into the already underlying history of experience. This is a complex process that depends on the networking of different sensory data and uses cognition to develop an awareness of the self and the world.

According to Wolfgang Klafki, the following five goals of aesthetic education can be distinguished from the perspective of classical educational theories (cf. Klafki 1996: 33): (1) formation of "sensitivity", (2) development of the imagination or fantasy, (3) development aesthetic judgment, (4) development of the ability to enjoy and (5) the ability to play and socialize.

Encounter with art: The art pedagogical practice of dealing with (visual) art is divided into two areas: the aesthetic-artistic production and the reception of works of art or visual sign systems (in different media).

These areas are interwoven and the teaching objectives differ. It is about the question already posed at the first Dresden Art Educators' Day (1901), whether it is about "education for art" or "education through art".

In art educational practice, this central question is posed differently: Do students have the opportunity to let themselves be grasped by the subject in order to express what they have experienced in an intermedial way?

Art didactic positions

These central paradigms of school art education are depicted divergently in the art didactic discourse. Without being able to go into the complex history of the subject, two current positions should be contrasted as a highlight (cf. Peez 2008):

(1) Image-oriented art education: This trend tries to connect or expand the impulses of visual communication with Gunter Otto's concept of aesthetic education (cf. Bering / Niehoff 2007). The central object of the envisaged practice is the enlightened and critical use of images, whereby images of a media environment are treated on an equal footing with designated works of art. These classes are intended as a contribution to visual literacy.

(2) Art education: At the same time and in opposition to this, a movement of "artistic art education" established itself (cf. Buschkühle 2003). Artistic education sees itself in critical opposition to “aesthetic rationality” and to a school-pedagogical world that knows how to operationalize knowledge that conforms to the curriculum in order to test it as learning content (see Vanessa-Isabelle Reinwand “Artistic Education - Aesthetic Education - Cultural Education”). Biography-centered models should be mentioned in this context, which try out different forms of artistic research-based learning and explicitly tie in with artistic strategies (cf.Kämpf-Jansen 2004; Brenne 2004; Heil 2007; Sabisch 2007; Busse 2007).

School-level art education

Early childhood education / day care centers and care facilities:

In early childhood education, art education has an integrating function - not as an explicit subject, but in the form of an interdisciplinary aesthetic education. This does not mean an explicit art mediation, but a focused, sensual-emotional examination of phenomena in the world (cf. Beck-Neckermann et al. 2008). Works of art are seldom discussed in these contexts. Instead, all dimensions of aesthetic action play a central role and are developed in interdisciplinary projects (cf. Schäfer 2001). The experimental, action-oriented handling of material is in the foreground (kneading, drawing, painting, building). Of particular importance is the “wild” handicrafts / bricollage, in which children interpret spontaneous material experiments in a situational and narrative manner (cf. KolhoffKahl 2007).

Nevertheless, the area of ​​art education / aesthetic education is a blind spot in many early childhood education concepts. In many day-care centers, construction plans are usually “tinkered with” according to instructions and with the help of parents and educators. The artistically oriented Waldorf education, on the other hand, offers a variety of fields of activity - nevertheless, these offers are based on Steiner's teaching, and an educationally viable justification is left out. An explicit exception here is Reggio pedagogy, in which extensive design practice is linked with forms of aesthetic research (cf. Ullrich / Brockschnieder 2001).

Primary school:

The primary school takes up early childhood educational processes and develops them further. Artistic behavior, scenic play and music are not initially thematized in a subject-related manner, but are a medium for a child-related discussion of the world. In addition to this interdisciplinary practice, there is an art class anchored in the lesson table, in which a skill- or product-oriented practice predominates. The reasons for design are mostly traditional festivals or contributions to school and class culture. Relevant publications from the so-called “creative field” are often used. In addition, there is also a serious specialist lesson that enables elementary experiences in different design areas, expands them in a project-oriented manner and initiates a dedicated view of art. This also includes dealing with everyday culture and media phenomena.

There are two methodological approaches to dealing with art. On the one hand, the mimetic understanding of structural elements of artistic working methods and their integration into child-related topics is propagated. The objects here are mostly canonized modern artists who have a certain proximity to the aesthetics of children (collecting, collaging ...) (cf. Kirchner 1999). On the other hand, there is a process in which children use their own experience to trace the effects of works of art associatively and to condense them creatively (cf. Uhlig 2005).

In addition to these forms of art reception, there is also a didactic that tries out artistic processes by directly dealing with phenomena in the real world (cf. Urlaß 2005; Brenne 2007).

Secondary level I:

Competences that have already been acquired are also taken up in the transition between primary and secondary school. Nevertheless, there are significant shifts in the adolescent phase. The critical transition between later childhood and adolescence is a phase of the search for identity in view of the coming adulthood. In this context, conveying an awareness of the fundamental designability of social systems is an indispensable support aspect of art-pedagogical learning in the secondary level (cf. Amirsedghi 2007).

Despite these phase-specific features, it is difficult to develop a uniform profile. The learning requirements and the school-type-specific differences are too different. If, on the one hand, the technical-handicraft side of the subject is pushed, the general educational mandate is strengthened on the other, i.e. learning objectives are geared towards the further course of education (Abitur, study, apprenticeship ...) Despite these comments, the following school-level-related characteristics can be identified: Thematically, the focus is primarily on relevant issues of adolescence (family, peers, everyday culture, professional life, media formations) (cf. KUNST + UNTERRICHT / SB 2005). These subject areas are questioned experimentally and implemented creatively. Art is also used; however, not as an object in itself, but as an impulse for a lifeworld questioning and a subjective search for meaning. It is important to exploit this potential. In particular, the expansion of everyday cultural styles through art alienates common contexts and opens the door to an expanded worldview.

In terms of practical work, creative and technical processes play an important role. This is not just about experimental testing of material, but also about developing specific skills and competencies suitable for everyday use. The references to previous handicrafts are also important. However, this practice needs to be integrated into productive and identity-creating projects (cf. Sowa 2005: 19). Conveying purely technical content or formal instruction in artistic processes falls short and ignores the existential needs of young people.

Upper secondary level:

First of all: In no other school level are the possibilities of art education practice so restricted by administrative requirements as in the upper level, which prepares for the general university entrance qualification. Learning objectives are determined based on the exam, with the content being restricted by national guidelines (cf. Grünewald 2009a). Student-oriented work is made more difficult here insofar as the narrow framework means that free forms of communication and individual approaches can only be implemented to a limited extent.

The following aspects determine the lessons in the upper secondary level: The spontaneous art encounter is expanded and systematized through the application of art-historical interpretation methods. It is about epochal knowledge that is developed with regard to diverse testimonies of a visual culture. Architecture, design, film, the Internet and the entire breadth of everyday culture are just as important as intellectual-historical fields of reference. The design practice carried out in this context is intended to deepen the content that has been developed in terms of art history. However, it is mostly a matter of mimetic executions of the epoch treated.

Nonetheless, the art pedagogical practice of the upper level also offers opportunities to test oneself substantially (cf. Kirschenmann / Grünberg 1997: 49). This applies to the examination of contemporary art and its adequate strategies. Historical art can also become significant if you maintain its alienation potential and evoke productive coping. This does not mean the meticulous reconstruction of historical art, but the transformation and updating of a specific language of forms in the juvenile world. This also includes access to a wide variety of media forms (see Brög et al. 1988).

Special school:

Special schools each have a different profile. What they have in common is the special support needs of the addressees, which results in specific teaching, learning and support priorities. According to Barbara Wichelhaus, delays in development, intellectual, physical and psychological impairments should be taken into account (cf. Wichelhaus 2004: 5). The way in which art pedagogical work addresses these characteristics and which goals should be striven for is quite controversial in the specialist literature (cf. Hubert 2004; Ripper 2011). In principle, however, it is assumed that there is special funding potential in the area of ​​artistic design. Here you can clarify and communicate individual perspectives and attitudes beyond language. In addition, there are elementary experiences with different materials and in different media. These meaningful measures support self-education processes and convey a feeling of effectiveness. Another didactic aspect is participation in the cultural field (cf. Theunissen 2004).

With regard to the administrative requirements, special schools have a high degree of freedom. The selected art educational content does not concentrate on conveying canonized knowledge, but rather focus on the field of aesthetic experience in its entirety. Diversity is not articulated here as a problem, but as an opportunity!


The current school system is in great need of reform with regard to equal opportunities (cf. Fereidooni 2010). This also affects art education in schools. A participatory school culture must enable the “excluded” access to established art and culture. Not in the sense of an “adaptive achievement of non-cultural deviants”, but as an accepting and cooperative balance between divergent positions and cultural manifestations. Here, dealing with art offers opportunities; the fundamentally foreign evokes a fundamental ethic of openness (cf. Welsch 1994: 4). Furthermore, through aesthetic-artistic practice, individual competencies beyond school reference norms can be sustainably promoted. Such qualification opportunities are particularly important for pupils with little literary knowledge and have a positive effect on further learning success.

Today's educational landscape needs art education more than ever. “Ideas move through people, while they freeze in works of art and ultimately remain behind” (Beuys 1988: 2).