Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2013 Issue »

    Thinking Otherwise About the Arts in Education—A Rejoinder

    Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández
    In this essay, Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández reflects on the comments made in a forum convened to reflect on his article “Why the Arts Don’t Do Anything: Toward a New Vision for Cultural Production in Education,” published in the Harvard Educational Review (HER)’s special issue entitled Expanding Our Vision for the Arts in Education (Vol. 83, No. 1). Participants in the forum (published in HER Vol. 83, No.3) were John Abodeely, manager of national partnerships, John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts, Washington, DC; Ken Cole, associate director, National Guild for Community Arts Education, New York City; Janna Graham, project curator of the Serpentine Gallery, Centre for Possible Studies, London; Ayanna N. Hudson, director of arts education, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC; and Carmen Mörsch, head of the Research Institute for Art Education, Zurich University of the Arts. In his original essay, Gaztambide-Fernández makes the case that advocacy for arts education is trapped within a “rhetoric of effects” that relies too heavily on causal arguments for the arts, whether construed as instrumental or intrinsic. ­Gaztambide-Fernández further argues that what counts as “the arts” is based on traditional, Eurocentric, hierarchical notions of aesthetic experience. As an alternative, he suggests a “rhetoric of cultural production” that would focus on the cultural processes and experiences that ensue in particular contexts shaped by practices of symbolic work and creativity. Here the author engages the forum’s discussion in an effort to clarify his argument and move the dialogue forward.

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    Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. His ethnographic research examines the role of social and cultural context on the educational experiences of high school students, most recently focusing on students attending specialized arts high schools in the United States and Canada. He also writes extensively about theoretical and conceptual issues in curriculum and cultural production, with a particular focus on the arts and, most recently, on the concept of solidarity. He has also conducted research on the experiences of Latino/a immigrants in Toronto schools. Gaztambide-Fernández’s work has appeared in education journals such as Curriculum Inquiry, Review of Educational Research, and International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, and he has co-edited a number of books, including Cultural Studies and Education: Perspectives on Theory, Methodology, and Practice, for the Harvard Educational Review. His book, The Best of the Best: Becoming Elite at an American Boarding School (Harvard University Press, 2009) is based on two years of ethnographic research at an elite U.S. boarding school.
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    Winter 2013 Issue

    Abstracts

    Educational Gerrymandering?
    Race and Attendance Boundaries in a Demographically Changing Suburb
    Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
    Pathways to College for Young Black Scholars
    A Community Cultural Wealth Perspective
    Uma M. Jayakumar, Rican Vue, Walter R. Allen
    “Who would they talk about if we weren’t here?”
    Muslim Youth, Liberal Schooling, and the Politics of Concern
    Reva Jaffe-Walter
    Thinking Otherwise About the Arts in Education—A Rejoinder
    Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández

    Book Notes