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Dana Katz

ARTE 344
November 20, 2016
Freedman Facilitation Chapter 4
Title: Art and Cognition: Knowing Visual Culture
Author(s): Kerry Freedman
Source/Date:
Freedman, K. J. (2003). Teaching visual culture: Curriculum, aesthetics, and the social life of
art. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.
Main Idea/Purpose (2-3 sentences):
Chapter 4 of Teaching Visual Culture discusses the idea that teaching students about
visual culture is more than just discussing the images and objects they encounter in their daily
lives. Curriculum should also take into account the different ways in which students learn based
on their age, cultural setting, and prior knowledge.
Short Overview (Including at least 2-3 important quotes):
As discussed by Freedman (2003), a work of art is considered to be great when it goes
beyond expectation. In intrigues the mind because it is difficult to understand and therefore, it is
found to be interesting (p. 65). When viewing art, people expect to see the image, and understand
immediately what is being portrayed. However, it is the pieces that challenge the mind, that
receive particular attention. People then start to consider their own relationship to the artwork
and conceive beliefs about what it could be addressing based on their prior knowledge. Each
great piece can mean something new to each person who views it. This process illustrates the
connection between emotion and cognition.
However, this relationship has often been overlooked in terms of art education. In the
Stage-by-Age model of development, researchers suggest that the art teachers role is to help
students move freely through the stages in a timely manner (p. 71). These stages, which indicate
growth through drawing, move towards increasing realism. They allow researchers to analyze
child development through their artwork, even those who cannot give verbal or written
responses. It is believe that all children move in a linear sequence from stage to stage, some
developing more quickly.
On the contrary, the expert-novice developmental model is based on the idea that the
steps of learning are required to advance from novice level of knowledge to higher-order
expertise (p. 72). This model moved curriculum to a sequence of levels based on expertise in a
subject rather than age dependent levels. Where stage-by-age is innate, expert-novice is said to
be learned. Similarly though, both models are dependent on a childs interaction with the world.
Together, these models give helpful information to determining an art education curriculum. At
the same time however, both of these models fail to address key areas of insight needed to
develop an effective art education curriculum.
Up until recently, researchers had still failed to address sociocultural attributes that

confound individualism. Schooling, mass media, and gendered/ethnic experience all influence
the ways in which students learn and view the world. Researchers who have studied this have
come to the realization that artistic development is connected to cultural influences. Childrens
development is influenced by time and place and drawings differ across histories and culture (p.
75). As discussed previously, students learn by reconstructing information they encounter based
on their previous knowledge, and change what they learn to fit with what they already know.
This can lead to misinterpretation causing a need for critical reflection in schools.
Critical Response: Reflections and/or relevance to personal art educational experiences/or
teaching experience
This chapter was very useful in understanding the developmental process of children in
art, and learning how to create an effective curriculum that takes into account previous models,
as well as new research. Knowing that visual culture has a huge impact on students is useful, but
understanding that their prior knowledge has an effect on what they see can help a teacher come
to terms with the idea that the way each student views the world and surrounding images may be
completely different. It is also helpful in addressing students who are from various cultures.
While the majority of a class might see an image in one way, the same image could have a
completely different meaning to another student. It is important to use past research in art
education to create a curriculum, but it is equally as important to look into what has not been
addressed and constantly adjust to new ideas.