International Journal of Art & Design Education

Why a Child Needs a Critical Eye, and Why the Art Classroom is Central in Developing it

Volume 29.3   2010



It is a common acceptance that contemporary schoolchildren live in a world that is intensely visual and commercially motivated, where what is imagined and what is experienced intermingle. Because of this, contemporary education should encourage a child to make reference to, and connection with their ‘out-of-school’ life.

The core critical underpinnings of curriculum-based arts appreciation and theory hinge on educators and students taking a historical look at the ways artists have engaged with, and made comment upon, their contemporary societies. My article uses this premise to argue for the need to persist with pushing for critique of/through the visual, that it be delivered as an active process via the arts classroom rather than as visual literacy, here regarded as a more passive process for interpreting and understanding visual material.

The article asserts that visual arts lessons are best placed to provide fully students with such critique because they help students to develop a ‘critical eye’, an interpretive lens often used by artists to view, analyse and independently navigate and respond to contemporary society.