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Clearing the Decks for Dominant Culture: Some First Principles for a Contemporary Art Education

Paul Duncum
Studies in Art Education
Vol. 31, No. 4 (Summer, 1990), pp. 207-215
DOI: 10.2307/1320540
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1320540
Page Count: 9
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Clearing the Decks for Dominant Culture: Some First Principles for a Contemporary Art Education
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Abstract

The promotion by art education of high culture is based upon the high-culture critique of society which condemns the dominant, popular culture with which students are largely engaged. The assumptions on which this critique is based do not resist analysis and need to be displaced if art education is to become a serious critic of students' cultural preferences. Pejorative stratifications of culture need to be reformulated as categories of cultural pluralism, and an insider's perspective on dominant culture adopted. Instead of a romantic, individualistic model of cultural production, a collaborative and institutional model of production must be employed. Disdain for the users of dominant culture must be replaced by regard for the way students handle the conditions of their existence. A regressive view of cultural history should be exposed as a myth, and pessimism about the future displaced by a willingness to engage in social struggle. A creator orientation toward culture must be superseded by a user orientation. Finally, the assertion of common-sense, self-evident, ideal standards must give way to an acknowledgment that standards are historically conditioned, ideological, and subject to argument.

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