International Journal of Art & Design Education

Art Education for Understanding: Goodman, Arts PROPEL, and DBAE

Volume 13.2   1994



This essay argues for the importance of understanding and meaning-making in art education. It starts with a review of some common rationales for the teaching of art which are then evaluated within the context of Nelson Goodman's philosophy, which emphasises the primary role of curiosity in the arts. The following two sections discuss the rationales, contributions and limitations of two art programs that are currently being carried out in the United States: Arts PROPEL and Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE). In the final section, Arts PROPEL and DBAE are compared. Both programmes emphasise the role of reflection, interpretation, and understanding in art. Productive and analytic art activities are used as important vehicles in making sense of the world and of ourselves. It is concluded that Arts PROPEL and DBAE offer promising and supplementary approaches to promote curiosity and to teach art for the sake of understanding.