A comparison of Adler's "Paideia" and the traditional approaches in fine arts education of selected secondary schools

Gerald Ralph Luecht, Marquette University


Educational reform has become a favorite topic of conversation in many areas of society. Calls for change, accountability, practical education, back-to-the-basics, etc., are very common. However, no specific mention is made as to how fine arts education is to find a place after the demands of the 'basic curriculum' are met. Even though fine arts education is given some importance, the actual placement in the curriculum, except for a suggested one year requirement in some states, is relegated to an elective status. Mortimer Adler's Paideia Proposal makes fine arts education an integral part of the curriculum. The proposal is an updated version of his classicist views, but with more specific recommendations for the curriculum and teaching methods than found in his earlier works. Methodology. In order to illustrate the composition of Paideia and traditional programs, the following approach is utilized: (1) pertinent literature was examined and analyzed to point out basic philosophical beliefs (human nature, knowledge, and aesthetics) underlying Adler's and the traditional program in the fine arts, (2) two Paideia programs and selected typical traditional programs were examined (i.e., those representing nationwide trends) to determine the specific implementation of the fine arts programs, and (3) John Van Doren, the author of the fine arts section in the third Paideia book, was interviewed to gather information on the specifics of the general structure proposed in Paideia. Conclusion. Today's lack of interest in the fine arts might be a result of the fine arts establishment ignoring the general education students in the past. A population that is educated in the fine arts might be more interested in making sure that the fine arts remain in the curriculum, rather than in questioning their validity. Paideia's philosophy of the same education for all would alter the goals of fine arts education as it exists in traditional education at the present time. Since Paideia does not make any specific recommendations for scheduling, some suggestions are given in the Appendix.

Recommended Citation

Luecht, Gerald Ralph, "A comparison of Adler's "Paideia" and the traditional approaches in fine arts education of selected secondary schools" (1992). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9227128.