Publications

International Journal of Art & Design Education

From Obstacle to Growth Dewey's Legacy of Experience-Based Art Education

Volume 27.1   2008

VAN MOER, EVA; DE METTE, TOM & ELIAS, WILLEM

 

In the last decades theories that emphasise visitors’ experience as the key element in the process of meaning-making have influenced art education in museums considerably. However, there is remarkably little evidence in practice that museums shape their exhibits and educational tools by the actual experiences of visitors. Because museum education is still too much knowledge-based, people often do not come to understanding or engagement of thinking. This article demonstrates this inconsistency and its consequences based on visitors’ conversations during a museum visit while looking at contemporary art. In order to engage visitors into their own thinking and create lasting experiences, the article also investigates Dewey's ideas about experienced-based education and inquiry learning. The study especially shows that experiences felt as obstacles for interpretation are extremely suitable to stimulate, deepen and improve visitors’ engagement in the inquiry cycle.