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    Summary of the Recent Literature on Methods in Art Education Essay

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    The purpose of this article is to review briefly the literature on methods in public art education. For a long time after its appearance in public schools art education was considered as a matter for specialists, both by general edu- cators and by the specialists themselves. This situation tended to limit publications on methods to local curricula based on personal opinions and experiences. More recently art education has come to be recognized as a subject which, so far as it related to elementary education, is no more special, and in its advanced phases no more general, than literature or mathematics or the natural sciences.

    As a result of this developing recognition of the character of the subject publications began to appear which may be classified into two general divisions:

    1. Reports of associations of art teachers and other publications of articles which bring together the experiences and the records of plans and results from teachers all over the country; and,
    2. Publications by individuals presenting specific experiments or organized methods of art instruction.

    This initial summary includes a number of publications which have been known for some time but which are still valuable as reference material.


    One of the first well-planned efforts to correlate the work of art instructors and make the results of individual experiments generally available was made by a group called the Council of Supervisors of the Manual Arts. This council was organized in 1901. Its active membership was limited to forty. Although meetings were held for purposes of discussion of various questions relating to art education, its main purpose was the publication of a yearbook. Papers were not read at the meetings but were printed in the Yearbook previous to the date of the annual meeting where they were discussed. The series of Year-books contained considerations of various problems relating to the arts in elementary and high schools; for example, the organization of courses, methods in presenting various subjects, historical and psychological papers, etc. These books were published by the Council and are now out of print, but were at the time of publication widely distributed to public libraries, so that they are now pretty generally available.

    Two prominent associations of teachers of the arts, namely, the Eastern Arts Association and the Western Drawing and Manual Training Association, meet annually and each publishes a volume of Proceedings. The scope of these publications is indicated by the following titles of some of the discussions printed in the reports for 1916.

    Eastern Arts Association, Proceedings of Seventh Annual Meeting: “Prob- lems of Art Education,” David Snedden, Columbia University; “The Art High School,” members of the staff of the Ethical Culture School; “Art in Lettering,” Sallie B. Tannahill, Teachers College; “The Art School and the Graphic Arts,” Arthur S. Alien, Phillip Ruston Company, New York; “The Artist Craftsman,” Arthur Fairbanks, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; “The School and the Department Store,” Helen R. Norton, director, School of Salesmanship, Women’s Educational and Industrial Union, Boston; “Illustrations for Elementary Children,” Lucia W. Dement, Horace Mann School; “New Art Work at Columbia University,” Arthur W. Dow, Teachers College; Report of the Committee on Standards in Drawing, J. Winthrop Andrews, Yonkers, New York, Chairman. In addition to these topics dealing with art education the volume contains discussions by the Industrial and Household Arts Section.

    The Western Drawing and Manual Training Association, Proceedings of meetings held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1916: “Art Training for Industry,” C. A. Prosser, director, Dunwoody Institute, Minneapolis; “Art Teaching in High Schools,” James P. Haney, director of art in high schools, New York City; “Mental Development through Drawing and Manual Training,” Woodbridge N. Ferris, governor of Michigan; “Democratization of the Arts,” John D. Shoop, superintendent of Chicago schools; “In What Way Should the Vocational Movement Influence Public Art Courses,” Anna L. Cobb of the Cleveland School of Art; “Privileges and Penalties of Our Task,” Lorado Taft, sculptor, Chicago. Besides these papers on art, there are papers on industrial and vocational education, and reports of various round tables.

    In 1900 a monthly magazine called the School Arts Book devoted to public art education was established by Fred H. Daniels, now supervisor of art education in Newton, Massachusetts. Later Mr. Harvey T. Bailey, formerly state supervisor of art education in Massachusetts, and now dean of the Cleveland Art School, became editor. The title of the magazine was changed to the School-Arts Magazine. The files of this magazine furnish an immense amount of valuable material regarding methods and courses and results in art education in the schools of the United States.

    Mr. Royal B. Famum, specialist in art education for the New York State Department of Education, publishes leaflets, syllabi, and reports in connection  with his department. He has also prepared for the United States Bureau of Education, Bulletin 1914, No. 13, Whole No. 586, entitled, “Present Status of Drawing and Art in the Elementary and Secondary Schools of the United States.” This bulletin of 375 pages together with 63 illustrative plates contains a survey of the historical development of art education in the United States, a statement of the aims and scope of art instruction, a discussion of organization, methods, and outlines, and five tables of statistics relating to drawing in public elementary and high schools and in private high schools and academies. Art museums are giving increasing attention to promoting public art education both within their own walls and in connection with schools and other agencies. Most of the larger museums publish bulletins which include descriptions of these educational activities

    A recent bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City is devoted to the public educational work of that museum. It discusses briefly the following topics: “Commercial Tendencies and an Aesthetic Standard in Education,” Homer E. Keyes, Dartmouth College; “A Suggestion on Correlating the Instruction Given in the Museums of a Community,” Mrs. A. L. Vaughn; “Non-Technical Laboratory for the Student of the His- tory of Art,” Miss E. R. Abbott; and “The Museum’s Part in the Making of Americans,” Mrs. Laura W. L. Scales. The last three writers are members of the museum staff.

    Instances of the ways in which the museum affects public education are indicated by the announcements of lectures and classroom talks. These include lectures for the general public, story hours for children, lectures for teachers in the public schools, for elementary and high-school pupils, illustrated lectures for the deaf, and talks for blind children, illustrated with objects from the collection which may be handled. Bulletin of the Metro- politan Museum of Art of New York, Vol. Xn, No. 9, September, 1917. Price 10 cents.

    The Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts, the John Harron Art Museum, Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Cleveland Art Museum, Cleve- land, Ohio, are notable among others for having definitely articulated their educational work with that of the public schools.


    This is a painstaking and orderly presentation of the elements of design in a scries of problems which progress systematically from the simplest elements in the most elementary arrangements to more intricate factors in increasingly complex combinations. The problems are accompanied by statements and definitions clearly formulated.

    Regarding his motive in writing this book, Dr. Ross says in the Preface, “Art is regarded as the one activity of man which has no scientific basis, and the appreciation of Art is said to be a matter of taste in which no two persons can be expected to agree. It is my purpose to show how, in the practice of Art, as in all other practices, we use certain terms and follow certain principles.” This book has had great influence upon the teachers of design, and through them upon methods of public instruction.

    Ayer, Fred Carleton, The Psychology of Drawing. Baltimore: Warwick & York, 1916.

    In this book Professor Ayer analyzes the problems involved in drawing in connection with science study, and presents a survey of the literature of drawing as it bears upon these problems. He then describes in detail his own tests and experiments with the type of drawing used in connection with science study and presents conclusions regarding the most effective methods of teaching this phase of drawing as indicated by the results of his experiments. Sargent, Walter, and Miller, Elizabeth E. How Children Learn la Draw. Boston: Ginn & Co., 1916.

    This book was prepared by Miss Miller, instructor in Art in the Elementary School of the School of Education, the University of Chicago, and by the writer of this article. It was based on daily records of each step in teaching drawing in the various grades and shows representative series of lessons accompanied by illustrations from the work of the children. The plan of teaching regards drawing in the elementary grades as a general subject in which special talent is no more a factor than is special talent in mathematics or in language. Any means that appeared to promote appreciation and ability in self-expression through drawing have been utilized, however ques- tionable from the traditional artistic standpoint they may appear at first sight. Many of the illustrations show for comparison the best, the average, and the poorest work in a class. The description of method is followed by a chapter dealing with conclusions as to how children most readily learn to draw. Brown, Harold Haven. Applied Drawing. With chapters by James Hall, Estelle P. Izor, Ernest W. Watson, and Raymond Ensign. Chicago: Atkinson, Mentzer & Co., 1916.

    This book discusses the different materials useful in upper-gradc and high school drawing and the technical methods of each. Each chapter deals with a particular application of representation, design, or mechanical drawing. The book is fully illustrated by excellent drawings.

    Soper, Mabel B. Principles and Practice of Elementary Drawing. Chicago: Scott, Foresman & Co.

    This textbook was compiled to meet the difficulties of preparing large entering classes in the normal school to teach courses of drawing already established in elementary public schools. The first draft was written on charts before the class. Consequently it is a condensed record of class instruction. It presents a well illustrated and formulated summary of the principles of drawing and of design.

    Hall, James. With Pen and Ink. New York: The Prang Co. This book is unique among school art books in that it deals wholly with the possibilities of pen-and-ink drawing, a medium which is of first importance in drawing for reproduction and which is occupying an increasingly prominent place in upper-elementary and high-school drawing. It presents a series of definite exercises which are progressive in sequence and include typical problems in pen drawing. It deals with the general principles of drawing and com- position only as they relate to the problem of handling pen and ink.

    The book is illustrated by drawings which demonstrate clearly two methods of procedure and are at the same time of the highest artistic excellence.

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