It is a conventional assumption in art education that all experience with art contributes to the student's educational growth. Yet recent art and media criticism suggest that the arts can also function as ideologies that restrict or mystify our views of the world, thus inhibiting growth. This problem suggests the need for curriculum designers, teachers, and students to recognize the social meaning in art. This paper identifies and critically discusses two kinds of social meaning: meanings inherent in the work of art (e.g., political statements in film); and meaning created by the design of the art curriculum (e.g., a monocultural or high-technology emphasis). By directing their critical attention to these social meanings, art educators may more effectively counter miseducational ideologies, and realize the potential of the arts for authentic expression and communication.
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