International Journal of Art & Design Education

Learning How to Learn, Art Education and the 'Background'

Volume 18.1   1999



This paper describes the conditions that make learning how to learn in art possible. Rather than privileging risk-taking or the playfulness of primary process thinking, a Wittgensteinian understanding of mind is used to argue against this approach in favour of one that raises students' awareness of the cultural and cognitive 'backgrounds' (forms of life and language games) against which our individual actions and risks are framed and understood. Instead of building art education on a metaphysical view of the self, this paper will advocate a social constructivist approach to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment to create a cognitive map for 'the background' of art. When these three are practised in a mutual way they connect individual minds to the resources or mind of culture which, in turn, makes lifelong learning possible, reclaiming the idea of art-for-life's sake.