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A Place for Beauty in Art Education

Watts, Robert

International journal of art & design education. Volume 37:Number 1 (2018, February); pp 149-162 -- John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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  • Title:
    A Place for Beauty in Art Education
  • Author: Watts, Robert
  • Found In: International journal of art & design education. Volume 37:Number 1 (2018, February); pp 149-162
  • Journal Title: International journal of art & design education
  • Subjects: Art--Study and teaching--Periodicals; Design--Study and teaching--Periodicals; beauty--aesthetic experience--art education--primary education--philosophy for children; Dewey: 707
  • Rights: legaldeposit
  • Publication Details: John Wiley & Sons Ltd
  • Abstract: Abstract:

    For the past 100 years beauty has been marginalised in Western art and regarded as a problematic notion in a range of cultural contexts. Art educators tend to associate experiences of beauty with passive appreciation rather than active engagement, while researchers of children's understanding of art characterise references to beauty as evidence of low levels of aesthetic development. This article draws on evidence from a recent study to challenge these assumptions. The study explored how children describe and analyse their perceptions of beauty and how they reflect upon and articulate their experiences of beauty. Fifty‐one children in two English primary schools were asked to find and photograph images they thought were beautiful, which they shared and discussed during a series of group interviews. The interviews provided evidence of the diversity of these children's perceptions of beauty, of their awareness of how visual and formal qualities contribute towards the beauty of images and of how their experiences of beauty can be meaningful and relevant to them. The article suggests that children's responses to beauty are not merely passive but often expressive, and that some of their responses to beauty illustrate art educators' principles of participation, individuality and self‐expression. It argues that art educators should reappraise the value of beauty in art education and reflect on its potential for raising children's levels of engagement with the visual world.


  • Identifier: System Number: LDEAvdc_100057132745.0x000001; Journal ISSN: 1476-8062; 10.1111/jade.12185
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Physical Description: Electronic
  • Shelfmark(s): ELD Digital store

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