International Journal of Art & Design Education

Beyond the Understanding of Visual Culture: A Pragmatist Approach to Aesthetic Education

Volume 23.3   2004



In the recent decades art education has tried to move away from the trends based on practical skills and techniques towards a greater stress on interpreting and understanding visual culture, created by the mass media. This approach implies a revision of the field of study and a redefinition of goals, replacing the study of art with a study of ‘visual culture’, a concept that better describes the daily environment of students and which reorientates art education towards social and cultural awareness. In this article, starting from Dewey’s conception of art as experience, a theoretical framework is offered based on three ideas: Firstly, the subject of art education involves aesthetic experience, which includes both ‘high’ art and popular culture. Secondly, it is necessary to reconstruct the balance between understanding and production in art education, in order to consider art products as narratives, stories or comments about life experiences. Thirdly to review the educational function of art education in order to determinate its value for social reconstruction and for which Rorty calls ‘self-creation.’