Art Critique as Social Pedagogy

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Abstract

Learning feels to us like a process managed by our will. From a personal perspective, learning seems like an individual act, largely the result of our own cognitive ability. Yet, how much of what we know has actually been achieved alone, and are our actions directed only through internal deliberation? This article argues that although knowledge is mediated by our intellect, almost none of what we know is obtained through individual effort alone. We are awash in our social environment and therefore it is impossible to separate learning that results from individual cognition and learning that results from social influence. A signature pedagogy within the visual arts, group critique, draws its effectiveness from the social nature of learning. In fact, the social nature of learning is important as we design any pedagogical strategy, and art critique provides an example of a transferable process that can be exported to other disciplines. Furthermore, what is revealed through an understanding of social learning provides reflection and commentary on human nature as well. If learning is predominately social, for instance, this must have an impact not only on how we interact in the classroom, but how we relate to one another in society as well.