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|Fifth grade, PS 9, Brooklyn, 2015 © 2015 Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York|
While mainstream public schooling treats pictorial information as peripheral, a quick glimpse at the world around us can contradict this strategy. From television screens to billboards to magazine ads, images are everywhere, shaping and imprinting the minds of impressionable children and adults alike. To be illiterate in the realm of images leaves one powerless to criticize and create in a predominately image-driven culture.
The Guggenheim Museum in New York City has long been working to give children the opportunity to attain what they call "visual literacy," a working understanding of what images are and how they work. Now in its 44th year, Learning Through Art is an educational program that provides elementary schoolers throughout New York public schools with the chance to spend 90 minutes a week focusing on art: looking at it, reflecting on it and, of course, making it.
In the 1970s, New York found itself in a fiscal crisis, on the verge of bankruptcy. As explained by Susan J. Bodilly and Catherine H. Augustine in Revitalizing Arts Education Through Community-Wide Coordination: "The arts and arts teachers became easy targets for budget cutting. As an example, in 1975-1976, after a decade of crisis and constant budget cuts, the New York City public schools laid of 15,000 teachers, almost 25 percent of the total number. Teachers in subjects considered 'less central' were the first to go. According to the the Center for Arts Education, 'By 1991, the last year for which systematic arts data was collected by the Board of Education, two-thirds of the schools had no licensed art or music teachers.' Schools were no longer allowed to hire arts teachers, and arts teachers who remained were transferred to other positions."
Source: Huffington Post