UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Cultural wealth for all : an analysis of the aesthetic values in the Getty's discipline-based art education program Bergland, Donald Lowell


The Getty Center for Education in the Arts has issued a set of documents containing descriptions of its discipline-based art education program (DBAE). This program has been criticized as promoting a set of aesthetic values based solely in the Western fine art tradition, and hence may be insensitive to the educational needs of a modern democratic pluralistic society. Aesthetic value in this study refers to any criteria by which one visual experience is considered to be of greater import or value than another. Although the documents describing these values have been both attacked by critics and defended by the Getty, no sustained and in-depth analysis has been conducted to determine the nature and larger context of the aesthetic values they promote. This study analyzes the body of documents issued by the Getty in order to discover the nature of the aesthetic values and their larger context and purpose. Content analysis was performed on the publicly available Getty documents and all statements containing references to the nature, function, value, appreciation, criteria, standards, and judgment of art were extracted, analyzed and then classified and explicated insofar as they pertained to the criteria for determining superiority in a visual experience. Six criteria for aesthetic value were identified and characterized. These criteria defined the standard for superiority in terms of the art work, the fine art tradition, the visual code, literacy, and intellectual, cultural, and formal values. It was discovered that these criteria were part of a larger body of values which is based in the humanities tradition. After a discussion concerning the impact these values have in a modern democracy and the implications for Canadian art education, the study concludes that the kinds of aesthetic values promoted by the Getty's DBAE program are monocultural in that they exalt and promote only the values of the Western fine art tradition, and hence, may not be appropriate as the sole basis for art education in a pluralistic society. Curriculum frameworks for discipline-based art education which allow a more culturally democratic approach to the treatment of aesthetic values are available and these, rather than the Getty formulations should be utilized when designing discipline-based art education curricula.

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