What does art teach?

Written on July 24, 2009 by Felicia Appenteng in Arts & Cultures & Societies, IE Humanities Center, Philosophy

Macarena Ventosa

On response to Arendt's article on this blog about the relationship between today's artists and environment and ethics, I would like to analyze the subject "Can artists save the world?" Trying to answer on terms of environment seems to me a superficial approach. Even the phrasing of the question bothers me, it's like it's taken out of a science fiction movie. The Oscar Wilde quote in the article, taken completely out of context, gives voice to what most people think about the arts today: "Art is useless". We live in a world where everything has to have a clear result.

I would like to rephrase the question and go to the core of the matter. A more suitable and philosophical question could be: What is Art for?, Is it useless nowadays?

Of course, contributing to this blog it is impossible to give a positive answer to that. To me the core is not art's usability or material value but what it makes us feel and learn.

So I would leave it as: What do the ARTS teach that cannot be found anywhere else?

Let's try to look at Art from a different point of view and answer through some other questions.

How can any of us make sense from the world around us?

How can we gain confidence in our own ideas while respecting those of others?

How can we communicate easily, think both in and out of the box, collaborate with others, adapt to change, and solve complex problems?

How can we understand better our own feelings and those of others?

I am not trying to be original; there has been a lot of investigation on this field. A worthwhile summary in 10 lessons has been written by Elliot Eisner, professor emeritus of Art and Education at Stanford University. We should just take out the word children or student and apply each statement to anyone that believes that the Arts are not elitist but makes all of us better people through a process of making sense out of the world and refining our sensibilities. 


By Elliot Eisner


1. The arts teach children to make good judgments about qualitative relationships.
Unlike much of the curriculum in which correct answers and rules prevail, in the arts, it
is judgment rather than rules that prevail.

2. The arts teach children that problems can have more than one solution
and that questions can have more than one answer.

3. The arts celebrate multiple perspectives.
One of their large lessons is that there are many ways to see and interpret the world.

4. The arts teach children that in complex forms of problem solving
purposes are seldom fixed, but change with circumstance and opportunity.

Learning in the arts requires the ability and a willingness to surrender to the unanticipated possibilities of the work as it unfolds.

5. The arts make vivid the fact that neither words in their literal form nor numbers exhaust what we can know. The limits of our language do not define the limits of our cognition.

6. The arts teach students that small differences can have large effects.
The arts traffic in subtleties.

7. The arts teach students to think through and within a material.
All art forms employ some means through which images become real.

8. The arts help children learn to say what cannot be said.
When children are invited to disclose what a work of art helps them feel, they must reach into their poetic capacities to find the words that will do the job.

9. The arts enable us to have experience we can have from no other source
and through such experience to discover the range and variety of what we are capable of feeling.

10. The arts' position in the school curriculum symbolizes to the young
what adults believe is important.

SOURCE: Eisner, E. (2002). The Arts and the Creation of Mind, In Chapter 4, What the Arts Teach and How It Shows. (pp. 70-92). Yale University Press.


Y August 10, 2009 - 11:12 pm

As an example, science-fiction literature could be regarded as a thinking tool, but it could also help to build some sort of collective reflexivity and responsibility towards the future.
Here are some complementary thoughts but, unfortunately, they are for the most part in French : http://yannickrumpala.wordpress.com/2009/07/31/science-fiction-and-social-theory/

Keyaan June 12, 2011 - 3:01 am
thomassteve1979 April 25, 2012 - 11:09 am

“Your blog has useful information. Thanks for sharing.”

future options trading June 24, 2013 - 5:06 pm

My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.

I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress on several websites for about a year
and am anxious about switching to another platform.
I have heard very good things about blogengine.
net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content
into it? Any help would be really appreciated!

rabaty August 31, 2013 - 4:11 pm

You should check this out…

I saw this really good post today….

holland america January 29, 2014 - 8:50 pm

Hi there everyone, it’s my first pay a visit at this web site,
and piece of writing iss truly fruitful for me, keedp up posting these

Cool Guy February 19, 2014 - 11:14 pm

Penile infections are really easy to cure, just dip your good ol willy in the toilet for around two to three hours and BAM! The chemicals in the toilet water will remove all of the pus and old semen from your penile canal! Trust me, it works!

Dallas April 30, 2014 - 6:17 pm

Great website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any community forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get suggestions
from other experienced people that share the same interest.
If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks a lot!

best way to learn piano May 2, 2014 - 4:01 pm

I truly love your blog.. Pleasant colors &
theme. Did you make this site yourself? Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very own website and would like to learn where you got this from or exactly
what the theme is called. Cheers!

https://docs.google.com August 1, 2014 - 1:03 pm

It is fun to be THE guy and not the guy getting the guy.

The final result is your avatar portrait, which is visible to other players in several ways, including
our message boards and in-game chat channels.
‘The Purge: Anarchy’ opens in South Florida theaters tomorrow.

Xcam August 2, 2014 - 1:50 pm

It’s really a nice and helpful piece of information. I’m happy that you shared
this useful information with us. Please keep
us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

Berkowitz Advertising August 4, 2014 - 10:41 am

Hellο, yeah thiѕ post is iin fаct pleasant and I haѵe
learned lot of thіngs frߋm it regarԀing blogging. thanks.

Anna November 2, 2014 - 1:45 am

Hello, I do believe your site could be having web
browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your site in Safari, it
looks fine however, when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues.
I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up!
Besides that, fantastic blog!

Voice Chat March 10, 2015 - 5:28 am

Excellent and very cool idea and the subject at the top of magnificence and I am happy to comment on this topic through which we address the idea of positive reaction and successful either on the subject as well and ask the subject of a successful
Thank you
To throw

Voice Chat March 20, 2015 - 7:48 pm

Excellent and very cool idea and the subject at the top of magnificence and I am happy to comment on this topic through which we address the idea of positive reaction and successful either on the subject as well and ask the subject of a successful
Thank you
To throw
شات تواعدنا

Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site
is magnificent, let alone the content!

Alfredo May 21, 2015 - 7:02 pm

Awesome post.

Leave a Comment


We use both our own and third-party cookies to enhance our services and to offer you the content that most suits your preferences by analysing your browsing habits. Your continued use of the site means that you accept these cookies. You may change your settings and obtain more information here. Accept