International Journal of Education & the Arts

Volume 6 Review 3

July 23, 2005

Davis, Jessica Hoffman. (2005). Framing education as art: The octopus has a good day. N.Y.: Teachers College Press.

230 pp.
$24.95     ISBN 0-8077-4578-2

Reviewed by Richard Siegesmund
University of Georgia

Generative Tensions: Arts-Based Thinking in Education

Citation: Siegesmund, R. (2005, July 23). Generative tensions: Arts-based thinking in education. Review of Davis, J. H. Framing education as art: The octopus hasa good day. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 6(Review 3). Retrieved [date] from

Curriculum theory in arts education raises significant questions regarding our expectations of excellence in general education. Using an arts-based research methodology of portraiture, Davis identifies four tensions within arts education that generate new approaches to curricula. The book advocates that children should have multiple opportunities to experience varied arts learning approaches both in and out of school. The curricular discussion also provides a framework for the evaluation of arts programs. The review author suggests that Davis's multiple tensions can be subsumed as part of one overarching tension between nonsymbolic qualitative thinking (organizing relationships of sensory qualities into coherent felt meaning) and symbolic thinking (ordering visual, linguistic, and mathematical symbols into reasoned expression), which together form the basis for arts-based thinking. Two additional curricular tensions that Davis mentions are also further explored. Davis's argument reveals problems with contemporary standards-driven arts education. The review author suggests that this points to arts-based thinking as an important aim for arts education.

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