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Aims & Scope

The Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education publishes essays, scholarly articles, and images of art about the teaching, theory, and praxis of visual art annually. These works come from doctoral students in art education from top programs around the globe and are vetted through a presentation at the National Art Education Association’s annual conference.

According to Marilyn Zurmuehlen, the founding editor:

In October of 1982 a group of fourteen professionals in anthropology, sociology, linguistics, psychology, and education gathered for a symposium on children’s responses to a literate environment. A psychologist, Frank Smith organized the meeting. In the introduction Smith expressed concern that for the past two or three decades educational theory and, indeed, practice been dominated by theories from psychology. His intentions was to bring together as many of the prevailing views on literacy as practical constraints would allow. He was dismayed because professionals from various disciplines in the usual pursuit of careers are not aware of work across academic boundaries; the meeting and published proceedings are part of his effort to remedy parochial perspectives on a subject that touches everyone.

In April of 1984 graduate students, their mentors and other interested individuals assembled a the National Art Education Association in Miami for the second year to share overviews of their research. What relationships might be observed between these two events? For one, it strikes me that the notion of a literate environment has some resemblance to that of an aesthetic environment; indeed the latter idea is so prevalent that we take for granted children’s teaching themselves to draw, while studies on children who teach themselves to read represent a rather radical conception for many who are involved in language arts. Thus, some of the participants in the literacy symposium looked to research in children’s drawings for theoretical grounding. Another similarity between the two groups is the intentions to bridge unusual distinctions. In the case of the Research Session for Graduate Students in Art Education, my concern is to bring together the different philosophies and methodologies that prevail in art education in North America. Smith’s organizational effort was directed toward an interdisciplinary confluence. While my focus might be described as inter-institutional one outcome of this session is the consciousness of the interdisciplinary involvements in art education. This observation is manifested in the papers that follow.

Readers of this issue of Working Papers in Art Education (now the Marilyn Zurmuehlen Working Papers in Art Education) certainly will recognize that the emerging professionals in our own field, as represented by these doctoral students, do, indeed, span a number of disciplines both in theoretical grounding and in their choice of research methodologies. Clearly, such diversity reflects the abundant variety of mentors and institutional milieus available to prospective graduate students in art education.

As mentors write of context for their student’s research those mentors also tell us much about their philosophical roots; and in the voices of students we may hear echoes of their mentors and , perhaps, of their universities. They ask familiar questions about classrooms, or textbooks, or artistic talent, or the relations of visual perception to art or the role of gender in shaping our learning, but the form of these queries is unique to each individual. Other explore less visited territories of individual histories, or specific art processes and traditions, or the poetics of aesthetics, yet the worlds of art from which these searches embark surely are familiar terrain to all of us.

-1984 Marilyn Zurmuehlen