In ancient Greece, Socrates taught his students with questions and dialogues while Aristotle used imagery and symbolic associations. Does the use of imagery and symbolic association improve memory and theory development skills that transfer to other subjects? If they do, does that provide credible evidence that an art curriculum that uses imagery and symbolic associations should be included in the American public schools? Some art educators believe it does.
In a decade of controversy, art educators have introduced contradicting theories and pilot projects. The common theme among these theories and projects is that art should be included in American public school curriculums. Art programs have been scaled back during the prevailing climate of educational accountability due to the emphasis on achieving measurable objectives. One pilot project, Discipline Based Art Education (DBAE), attempts to design an art curriculum that resembles other subjects in the hope of securing Art a place in schools.
In the face of this prevailing wind of criticism, one pilot project, Arts PROPEL, suggests that the objectives of art education are best facilitated by using the process approach to teaching art. Teaching art using a process approach is not a particularly new idea. Art students and artists have long compiled a portfolio of their work to access their progress. The process approach developed in the Arts PROPEL project is a contemporary example of this approach that provides a theoretical basis for this research paper.
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