The Handbook of Research and Policy in Art Education is an 875-page compendium of articles addressing nearly every conceivable issue in the field and is, if nothing else, a valuable tour de force for any reader who wants to come up to speed on issues in the field. It is not, however, either strictly a handbook or a complete exploration of either art education policy or research. This in no way diminishes its potential value as a source for policy issues and research that are of significant concern to the field.
The publication presents 36 individual or joint authored chapters on (1) historical currents in art education, (2) policy perspectives impacting the teaching of art, (3) learning in the visual arts, (4) teaching and teacher education, (5) forms of assessment in art education, and (6) emerging visions of the field. Each of the six sections begins with a short introductory statement by the researcher responsible for reviewing the essays in that session. These section editors include F. Graeme-Chalmers, Ralph Smith, Anna Kindler, Enid Zimmerman, Elisabeth Soep, and Arthur Efland. Forty-one authors contributed to the book's contents, all of which have nationally recognized expertise in handling the topic discussed.
Editors Elliot Eisner and Michael Day view the book as an effort to bring together research and theory, policy, and concepts that guide and give shape to what people in art education try to accomplish—which is, of course, a rather ambitious goal. Even the editors admit the Handbook meets some but not all of these competing orientations. They also claim that the Handbook serves as an assertion that art education is a scholarly field, perhaps even to a fault through mostly ignoring qualitative issues regarding goals, expressive art form, and aesthetics. Also, the editors admit that the Handbook will be a disappointment, which is true, especially with respect to its emphasis on rationales rather than policy problems, on assessment appreciation rather than policy and research, on assessment in art education history as a record of events rather than as policy windows, and on emerging visions as older forms of social and political discourse rather than policy issues, implementation, and evaluation.
Nevertheless, the Handbook addresses a number of important policy issues, providing well-developed and valuable views of the field by a variety of important authors and, in some cases, with some rarely seen insights into the nature of the field. I will only review the most salient ideas of the chapter authors in each of the six sections and then comment on what I believe are promising, and sometimes somewhat troubling, directions pointed out in the chapters, including what promises have not been fulfilled. [End Page 111]
Section I, on historical currents, includes chapters by F. Graeme Chalmers; Mary Ann Stankiewicz, Pat Amburgy, and Paul Bolin; and John Howell White. Chalmers provides a very thorough overview of the literature on the history of art education, including what he calls the broad perspectives on art education, history, and research interests of art education historians. Overall, he references nearly 300 publications. Stankiewicz, Amburgy, and Bolin then address specific movements in nineteenth-century art education and art, including a brief history of the social function of art, drawing instruction in schools, industrial drawing, manual training, the arts and crafts movement picture study, and progressive education with over 120 references. White, who follows, provides a similar review of major forces, focusing mainly on art education influences in the twentieth century, addressing the contributions of various art educators, arts organizational leaders, artists, government initiatives, and the critical and divergent influences of key post–WW II art education writers. He also documents his work with nearly 300 sources.
Section II, on policy perspectives, contains seven chapters, including ones by Ralph Smith; Samuel Hope; Constance Bumgarner Gee; Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner; H. Gene Blocker; and E. Louis Langford and Kelly Scheffer. In Section II, Sam Hope outlines the power of policy and its effect on the survival and health of the art...