Virtue and the art of teaching art

John Haldane*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Discussions of the aims and efficacy of teachers tend to focus on an extended present pre supposing a more or less common profile across subjects and recent times. Given the concern with contemporary schooling this is unsurprising, but it limits what might be learned about the character of good and bad teaching, about the particularities of certain fields, and about the ways teachers conceive themselves in relation to their subjects, students and society. This essay considers the teaching of art, by artists to art students, setting this within a long view of the institutions of art and art training. Three partial models of the art educator and their associated qualities can be abstracted from medieval, early modern, and recent periods. (1) The Exemplar: possessed of practical skills and habituated understanding and judgement. (2) The Master: having in addition to the exemplar’s qualitieserudition and cultivated taste. (3) The Critical-Advocate: theory-oriented, and self-consciously progressive. Good art (be it in terms of expressive, imaginative, formal, representational or other relevant aspects) has the power to transform makers and observers, and to encourage and deepen self-examination and self-understanding. Good art teaching should be alert to and directed towards these benefits.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Journal of Educational Studies
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date21 May 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2024


  • Art education
  • Craft
  • Design
  • Fine art
  • Virtues
  • World-view


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