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Opening Paper by an Important Representative of Czech Art Education


Jan Slavík

Professor of Art Education at the Department of Art Education and Art Culture, Faculty of Education, University of West Bohemia in Pilsen (Czech Republic)

How is the World Made… and Is that Good?

In the curriculum of general education schools, art education is unique in that it provides children with the opportunity to learn through their original creative expression. In other words, in art lessons children should and can learn by expressing their thoughts, ideas, opinions and attitudes through artmaking activities. There is no difference between them and visual artists – a work of art, whether artistic or that of children, is an original creative expression.

An original creative expression would be of no value to children’s learning, nor would it have a value in a broader cultural sense, if its content did not bring new knowledge, if it did not expand and enrich human experience. Zuidervaart (2015) therefore characterises the original work as an unveiling – as the act of discovering of the unknown. In the same sense, we speak of arts-based research (cf. Eisner, 2006) or artistic research (cf. Hannula, Suoranta, & Vadén, 2005).

Comparing artistic expression with scientific research, we openly confront the authority of art with the authority of science and can cast doubt. In what sense can an original artistic expression be a discovery or the unveiling of the unknown, if it is not substantiated by a scientific method and objectively supported by evidence based on facts in the regime of evidence-based research? What is possible to explore, to analyse or to learn through artistic means, so that we do not face legitimate criticism when confronted with scientific learning? Arguments to discuss these issues are offered in the following lines.

Original Creative Expression is Worldmaking


Just as scientific research leads to a scientific text and its publication, an original artistic expression leads to an artistic artifact and its presentation. The originator of an artistic expression, as well as the originator of a scientific text, is an empirical author – a mortal individual embedded in their social environment and historical cultural time.

A statement of an empirical author would have no probative value in science or art if it did not have any content. Only the content that people can interpret from the work can be what goes beyond the limited time of its empirical author, because it expands the experience and brings knowledge to other people.

The content of a work that is in some way new and expands human experience is called a discovery. Without discoveries, there would be no human culture – discoveries are a necessary condition for the origin and historical development of science, technology and art.


English version

Czech version

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