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Jennifer Furr

February 15, 2015

Reading Review #4
Picture study became very popular in American schools around the turn of the
twentieth century. There were several reasons for this. Prior to the picture study
revolution, art had been primarily taught as technical drawing in public schools.
Froebels influence was one reason why art programs in America made a shift to more
aesthetic based programs. Also, art educators were starting to realize that they could
teach good morals and social skills through their art curriculum. Although students
were expected to learn names and dates to recognize specific artworks in
reproductions, intellectual knowledge was less important than enthusiasm for, and
appreciation of, what is good in art (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.112).
Art professors and art educators thought that students could learn to read the
language of art. They thought fine art could be an influence for cleanliness, order, love
of family, and home. Picture study advocates even thought that immigrant children could
learn American values through art. It seemed to be the answer for many social and
moral quandaries of the time. Picture study will foster good taste, not only in pictures,
but in all departments of life. It will give that broader and finer outlook which enables
one to discern the meaning and worth of spiritual influences; it will insure that
sensitiveness which makes one alive to the best which life has to give (Stankiewicz,
2001, p.116).
Key Influences
Henry Turner Bailey, Estelle Hurll, and John Cotton Dana were three key
individuals that contributed to emerging educational practices in the early twentieth
century, linking the study of art works to the development of morals, good taste, and
other virtues. Henry Turner Bailey was one of the biggest advocates of the picture study
movement. He promoted it heavily through his School Arts magazine, and also did the
lecture tour circuit, telling art educators how wonderful the movement was and why they
should use it. He told teachers they should collect pictures and gave them suggestions
about how magazine pictures could be used. Other art educators, like I.H. Clark, agreed

with Baileys ideas, and further promoted the values of picture study and the ways it
could promote aestheticism. Refined aesthetic taste comes from culture and that is the
basis of all true appreciation of art; to secure this culture we must have knowledge of
the lives and works of the artists themselves (Stankiewicz, 2001, p.112).
Estelle Hurll was another important figure in the picture study movement. She
reminded teachers of the very important point that picture study was all about teaching
students how to enjoy and appreciate beauty and art, not just to have one more thing to
write about in the classroom. Hurll told teachers if they did that, then students would
probably start to hate art the same way they hated poems or stories they were forced to
Last, but not least, John Cotton Dana was not a picture study advocate, per se,
but was definitely an influential figure in promoting aestheticism and all its redeeming
qualities. He thought that observing sensory information in everyday life was one of the
best ways to develop aesthetic habits. Dana said that people should study their
teacups (Stankiewicz, 2001. P.120). He also told teachers that they should let the
community know of their efforts, and show student art work as much as possible. Dana
said that learning results were visible, and that was why the student work should be
shown frequently.
Personal Reflection
On what basis should an art teacher select the works to be shown to students
today? Well, the easiest answer would be to select works that go along with your
curriculum and meet the needs of your lessons that correlate to national standards. I
think it all depends on how you determine your curriculum or the importance of certain
artists works and how they relate to what you are teaching. For example, a few weeks
ago I was teaching collage, and showed works by Henri Matisse and Romare Bearden,
because I like their style, and because they were similar to the results I thought
elementary students might be capable of achieving.
The study of works of art in the classroom should serve the purpose of
correlating to your lesson, including national standards, and of course incorporating
elements and principles of design. It would be wonderful if we were able to teach
students how to analyze a picture in the same way that picture study originally meant for

it to be, but time restraints and core curriculum requirements have made that almost
impossible to do, at least in a public school setting. The types of artists and art works
that I have shared with my students have varied greatly this year. It all revolved around
which standards I was teaching and what medium we were using to achieve a desired
effect. I have taught about such artists as: Paul Klee when I did a lesson about
geometric shapes with oil pastels; Laurel Burch when I was teaching the elements of
space and color; Wassily Kandinsky when I taught abstract art and emphasized the
elements of color, line, and shape. I showed various images of cave art and Egyptian
tomb art when we were going through a unit on the beginning of art history earlier on in
the year. Informal assessment was my main way of determining if students were
learning the intended points from the lessons. I have used rubrics before, but just
walking around and observing and having conversations with students while they are
working is the best way to see if they learned what you wanted them to. Their final
product, of course, is a great way to see if intended learning took place. The age of the
students definitely influences the images that I share, since I teach elementary students.
I know that I have to be highly selective about what images I show them due to their
ages and also know that most overtly religious images are going to be out of bounds. Id
say that in some ways maybe the original promoters of picture study had more leeway
in the images they showed than what we do now, since they didnt have standards to
teach to the same ways we do now, but I know that in many ways life was even more
conservative in those days, so thats not a completely true statement. It is also
wonderful to have technology in this day and age that allows us to pull up a picture from
the Internet at the touch of a button to go along with whatever lesson or purpose we
may choose in the classroom.
Stankiewicz, M. A. (2001). Roots of art education practice. Worcester, MA: Davis Publications.