Soviet and American education in the visual arts : a space age comparison
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This study compares visual arts education in Soviet and American schools during the post-Sputnik period, mainly the 1960's and 1970's, It focuses primarily on the Soviet general schools with their many alternatives and the different levels of the American school system. The study reflects the writer's views and impressions based on observations in Soviet and American schools and institutions, discussions with officials and educators from both countries, and a compilation of published Soviet and American material on visual arts education. Three main questions define the framework around which the research is directed: These questions are concerned with the philosophical backgrounds which underlie both systems, the organization, objectives, methods, and content of each, and the recent trends in visual arts education in the U.S.S.R. and the U. S. The main conclusions of the study show that: Marxism-Leninism was the most important influence on Soviet aesthetics as evidenced in a form known as "socialist realism," whereas in the United States an eclecticism made up of idealism, Puritanism, and pragmatism characterized the philosophical background of visual arts education. Recognizing the importance of aesthetic education for everyone, the central government of the Soviet Union mandated a well-articulated, sequential art program from early childhood to adulthood, thereby furthering the socialist cause and standardizing art programs throughout the country; local control of American schools did not always assure the visual arts a place in the basic school curriculum. Because the United States had no national aesthetic authority mandating directives, art education was often experimental, making use of many changing theories from John Dewey, Viktor Lowenfeld, Victor D'Amico, Herbert Read, and others. Recent trends in visual arts education show a change in Soviet totalitarianism as evidenced by less coercion in visual expression, an openness by Soviet art theoreticians to borrow ideas from the West, and a demand by a growing body of young intelligentsia to be challenged by more than social realism. In the United States, art education is threatened by fiscal problems brought on by the malaise of Viet Nam, Watergate, high inflation, a back-to-basics movement, and a declining birth rate. Art educators are aligning themselves in order to articulate the need for quality art programs to the general public and to the educational and political leadership. Futurists predict a new role for American art education, not limiting it to the nation's schools but reestablishing its importance in television and newspapers, shopping centers, museums, factories, old-age homes, and in laser technology and holography. Soviet art education might be described as reaching out for diversity within unity; American art education might be described as searching for unity within diversity.