Art, Tech & Higher Education (Black Mountain College)

black mountain

You can read this whole piece here in the New Yorker by Louis Menand about Black Mountain College and post war American art for the reflections on education and the art of making things. Based on principles of education learned from John Dewey, the College trained the broadest cross section of the American avant-garde. The College was founded by “renegade classics professor” John Andrew Rice, who looked at art, not as therapy or self-expression but as “mental training.”  Along with its historical interest, the most important lesson from Menand’s article concerns our own contemporary educational landscape, which professors in the humanities still seem not to have figured out (witness recent blather in a recent New York Times opinion piece about the excellence of the traditional talk-talk lecture). Menand makes this much more excellent point in respect to the type of students whom so many of us in the humanities disdain with undisguised contempt. Menand writes, “People who teach in the traditional liberal-arts fields today are sometimes aghast at the avidity with which undergraduates flock to courses in tech fields, like computer science. Maybe those students see dollar signs in coding. Why shouldn’t they? Right now, tech is where value is being created, as they say. But maybe students are also excited to take courses in which knowing and making are part of the same learning process. Those tech courses are hands-on, collaborative, materials-based (well, virtual materials), and experimental—a digital Black Mountain curriculum. The other liberal-arts fields might take notice. Arts practice should be part of everyone’s education, not just in preschool.” (Thanks to Louise Yaffe-Potash for sharing)

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to Art, Tech & Higher Education (Black Mountain College)

  1. dmf says:

    you might enjoy richard sennett’s book on ars & craft

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