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Should Photoshop be considered an Art class or a Technology class?

Aug 15, 2012 2:57 PM

Tags: #photoshop #design #adobe #class #education #art #professional #high #teacher #technology #school

Within our school we are currently having a conversation with our high school principal as to whether or not Photoshop and Illustrator should be categorized as an Art class or a Technology class.

 

This is unfortunately a black and white situation and therefore it has to either be categorized as art or technology. The ramification of these decisions determines the pedigogical practice that are employed within the classroom... Is it taught from an art perspective? As a tool for an artist? Or is it taught as a piece of software? This also determines whether they higher an art teacher to teacher the class, or a technology teacher.

 

I was hoping to get the opinion of some Adobe professionals, so other schools, and some graphic designers out there regarding this situation before I make another assertion for one side or the other to our principal!

 

Thanks for all your help and discussion in advance!

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 15, 2012 4:22 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    jddgg22 wrote:
    This is unfortunately a black and white situation and therefore it has to either be categorized as art or technology. The ramification of these decisions determines the pedigogical practice that are employed within the classroom... Is it taught from an art perspective? As a tool for an artist? Or is it taught as a piece of software? This also determines whether they higher an art teacher to teacher the class, or a technology teacher.

     

    Seems to me that you're trying to force a square peg into a round hole in trying to make such artificial distinctions and there's no satisfactory absolute answer to such a dichotomy.

     

    The fact is that it's both (to me it's "digital art") and depends on what you're trying to do with it at any given time.

     

    You cannot discuss the artistic side without being aware of how it works technically (it's crunching a lot of numbers every time you click the mouse button) and vice versa.

     

    Having said that, most people see software as software. That's the most obvious viewpoint. Technical problems to solve at every turn ("how do I...?") and stuff to be learned.

     

    But in a classroom situation, I would try to immerse the students in the environment created by Photoshop and broaden their horizons. "Can I...?"

     

    Develop enjoyment and experience to the point where the software becomes invisible and they focus on the images and the boundless possibilities.

     

    Art teachers in natural media don't spend the entire class teaching the tools: brushes, paints and pigments. They try to instill love for art.

     

    With Photoshop, the technical side is ever present - everyone wrestles with that - but the creative, artistic side can be carefully nurtured by skilled educators (who are comfortable enough with the technical side) and, for me, a successful class is one which leaves me inspired and wanting more.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,459 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Aug 15, 2012 4:35 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    Seems simple enough to me.

     

    Offer two classes!

     

    1.  A beginning class where you teach preparation of a computer system for the software, installation of the software, concepts of pixels, images, color-management, basic technical usage of the tools - and don't forget to include good practices for keeping the computer maintained, doing backups, etc.  You'll want to have two phases for each part of the class, one for PC and one for Mac (it would be good for students to know about both).  That's a Technology class.

     

    2.  A second/advanced class where you teach using Photoshop to create art.  Requires the first class as a prerequisite, which ensures that the students up on all the terms and technical stuff and can jump right in to the creative aspects.  That's your Art class.

     

    If you can't budget two positions, try to find someone who can teach both tech and art.  Creative people who understand tech do exist - this forum is full of them!

     

    Oh, usually I don't worry over typos, but being that you're an educator please take a moment to look up the difference between "higher" and "hire".

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 15, 2012 4:34 PM   in reply to John Waller

    Well, that's like asking whether teaching photography itself is technology or art? Who should teach that?

     

    Answering those questions pervade many disciplines, even physics. Physics employs mathematics hugely successfully, I might add. But mathematics is totally abstract, needing no tie to any physical reality. So who should teach math to physics majors, mathematicians or physicists?

     

    I taught photography at the Community College level. I am also an engineer by training. The students I had were delighted with what I brought to the classroom.

     

    Let us know how it turns out!

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 3:55 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    Is photography an art or a science has always been the question asked regarding this area of study. It definitely has elements of both but s it is calssified an art, I suppose you could apply the same reasoning to Photoshop considering that the final output is an art object.  Still, with Photoshop, it is as much a journey as it is a destination. Photoshop is a tool, a tool that is quite complex and requiring significant training, but still a tool.  The whole purpose of this tool is to render a piece of art.  Without the art, there is no purpose for this tool.  That would be point of view.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 4:00 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    As an art teaching major and a graphic designer, i think it calls for a "digital media" title. It really balances between art and technology. there are many discussions whether it calls for creativity, or just a extreme knowledge of the technology. usually the classes that focus just on the "basics" of a program are taught simply from an instructional perspective. the advanced classes are no longer focusing on "teaching" you, but introducing art concepts, then the students have to use photoshop or illustrator as a tool. all the further learning on the programs is up to them. Many highschools take this approach, with a final project to encompass the skills covered, then the advanced classes working on a more conceptual project.

    goodluck,

    -janelle

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 4:07 PM   in reply to janelle_f

    I'd say it comes down to: are you teaching how to use the tools (art/design), or how the tools work behind the scenes/under the hood (math, comp. sci.) ?

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,459 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Aug 16, 2012 4:21 PM   in reply to Chris Cox

    Chris Cox wrote:

     

    teaching ... how the tools work behind the scenes/under the hood

     

    Which, if successful, leads to a deeper understanding and ability to combine things in ways one might never think of otherwise, and quite possibly higher quality results.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 5:06 PM   in reply to Noel Carboni

    Synergistic perhaps.

     

    But why stop with Photoshop? Where does the computer figure in? The method of communicating to the system? The display characteristics?

     

    For the tool to be perfect, it must get out of your way. Simpler is better. Photoshop has a ways to go to be that, and unfortunately some of the upgrades need careful trimming to melt back into the whole, instead of forcing one to climb out of a hole!

     

    Photoshop can be the Steinway D of photoediting. Do everything superbly well and get out of the way.

     

    Then we can teach the way music teachers teach their finest pupils and not worry about teaching technology vs. art.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 5:17 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    It could be taught either way, but if you are going to be teaching Photoshop and Illustrator, it is probably best to use them in an art setting. It is impossible to avoid some technical aspects of the program, but any art form requires a technical understanding of the medium you work in.

     

    I imagine that the technology class with Photoshop and Illustrator would be similar to a rote-style class that Microsoft Word is better suited to. While someone might benefit from this type of class, the tools are ultimately used for creating art, and students would probably benefit more from having an art-focused class.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2012 6:26 PM   in reply to Hudechrome

    For the last hour I've been discussing this with my wife, a brilliant educator I've known for well over half a century, and to whom I've been married for some 42 years.  As a retired and celebrated high school principal, she was responsible for hiring teachers for two full decades and kindly shared some of her expertise on this very subject with me, bringing up administrative issues I had not considered in this context.

     

    In her opinion and experience, it's highly doubtful that a fine-arts teacher will have the knowledge and skills to use Photoshop at a professional level.  A fine-arts teacher is a hands-on artist who paints, draws, sculpts, weaves, makes and paints ceramics.  THAT requires a specific kind of teaching credential.

     

    An Industrial Arts credential is an entirely different certification, such as typically required of a photography teacher (it varies by state, naturally, we're talking about California here).

     

    In order for a student to earn fine-arts credits, the course must be taught by a credentialed fine-arts teacher.  A slightly different situation exists in regard to Industrial Arts credits and Technology credits, since a course in Industrial Arts is not a state requirement for graduation: credential in I.A. preferred but not necessarily required.

     

    A technology course is NOT a state requirement for graduation either.

     

    Yet the credits earned in those non-required classes, do count towards graduation.

     

    Bottom line is that, in her experience, the likelihood of finding a credentialed teacher with the wherewithal to fulfill the requirements of all three fields is extremely remote.  Therefore, it's not realistic to offer a course presented as both art and technology.

     

    It was her practice, and that of many principals in the state, to have a two-period class co-taught by two teachers, each with the relevant credential, so that students would earn both Arts and Technology credits at the end of the school year.  Under current budget constraints, that is increasingly unlikely to happen.

     

    What came as a bigger surprise to me is that, in her school, they taught Photoshop Elements, and the students that took that class earned TECHNOLOGY credits.  The school did not offer a course in the full version of Photoshop, simply because the application is not affordable at all, even at educational prices.  In this regard, what would be required is a GRANT from Adobe.  Food for thought. 

     

    Just my two cents.

     

     

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 7:52 AM   in reply to station_two

    station_two wrote:

     

    ...  The school did not offer a course in the full version of Photoshop, simply because the application is not affordable at all, even at educational prices.  In this regard, what would be required is a GRANT from Adobe.  Food for thought. 

     

     

    Adobe has a Gifts In Kind program:

     

    "Through a partnership with Gifts In Kind International, Adobe is committed to making communities stronger by providing software donations to K-12 schools that develop and present curriculum material and provide teacher and student training in the focus areas of digital technology and visual communication."

     

      www.giftsinkindinternational.org/partners/?pn=co_corppartners.asp

     

    We (as volunteer individuals) have been involved with educational programs at some California nonprofit organizations who have benefited from Adobe's generosity.  I don't know that this program includes Photoshop or Illustrator, but seems worth inquiring.  How to request?  It's been some time -- I think what the groups I know did was to register with Gifts in Kind International and submit an application that, when accepted, qualified the group to request in-kind donations.

     
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  • Noel Carboni
    23,459 posts
    Dec 23, 2006
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    Aug 17, 2012 8:10 AM   in reply to Robert Shomler

    It would be stupid of Adobe not to get a whole new generation of kids on the Photoshop upgrade path.

     

    -Noel

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 8:34 AM   in reply to jddgg22

    Photoshop is technology. You don't learn art by learning Photoshop. Too many kids out there who can't draw a straight line without a computer these days, no matter how brilliantly they may be able to use it otherwise, if you get my meaning.... Of course it helps if you know your tools and Alec put it probably best, but then again even a traditional painter needs to know his tools. Learning all those programs is just learning another tool. Photoshop is not required to make a good photo nor is Illustrator necessary to make a drawing, but a poorly shot photo or a badly done vector tracing can't be salvaged with those programs and a super-computer...

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 8:42 AM   in reply to Mylenium

    Minor White said it well:

     

    "Your camera takes better pictures than you do."

     

    Photoshop carries on that tradition.

     

    He was full of aphorisms. Another, different as it is pointing to originality:

     

    Just because you paid for the camera doesn't mean the picures you take are yours.

     

    I'm not sure here of the exact quote but close.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 10:17 AM   in reply to Hudechrome

    But then again, isn't "art" molding those pictures so they convey your thoughts, intentions, interpretation of the world around you? Humans Sentient beings make art, not cameras and computers...

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 10:46 AM   in reply to Mylenium

    It's subtle, Mylenium. Maybe this helps:

     

    Enthusiasm for a subject sometimes veils a clear concept of it.

     

    I can't locate the exact wording from A Adams but it is the gist. I also resonate to this from him:

     

    A developer is not a magic brew which, when applied to a piece of film, reveals a work of art."

     

    I assume that since you changed from humans to sentient that the idea "Give an infinite number of monkeys typewriters computers infinite time and they will write all the great books of the world! /s

     

    I think we all have ides about art and being an artist, revealing the magic in us with the use of tools, but somewhere along the line we must divest ourselves of romantic notions and get to work. That always means mastery ogf your mrdium.

     

    I'm still in that phase. 60 years and counting!

     

    Lawrence

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 4:53 PM   in reply to Robert Shomler

    Robert Shomler wrote:

     

    Adobe has a Gifts In Kind program

     

    Perhaps the Adobe bureaucracy is/was as indifferent or slow to react to "gift" requests as it is in dealing with customers in general?

     

    In any case, a school administrator can't very well plan the curriculum of the school in the long term based on a "gift request" to Adobe.  A minimum of certainty of the outcome of the request and assurances of continued gifts of upgrades are essential.  Teacher positions have to be budgeted, teachers have to be hired...

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 6:09 PM   in reply to Hudechrome

    I assume that since you changed from humans to sentient that the idea "Give an infinite number of monkeys typewriters computers infinite time and they will write all the great books of the world!

     

    Not really, but there are probably some animals out there that have more artistic skill than some Photoshop zealot kids... Anyway, this is drifting too much into "meta"...

     

    Mylenium

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 8:44 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    Both. One cannot exist w/o the other today. It once was a simpler world, where pencils inks and straight edges was the norm. Maybe you learned calligraphy as well.

     

    The ruler now is the computer, and the designer is also the typesetter (Remember when you went to a type house?)

     

    One has to master both and perhaps the school, finding itself in this dilemma, is biting off more than it can chew.

     

    In any case, both have to be taught and there is no way around it.It's like saying I have to learn to walk but I can use only one leg. Choose only one.

     

    Which shall I choose?

     

    Another way to look at this is as a duality, like a coin where tech is one face, art the other. The unity is the coin, duality the price of the coin.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 10:00 PM   in reply to jddgg22

    Learning how to use the software without having an excellent command of the artistic skills required is futile in my opinion.

     

    Learning to master Word or any other word processor is useless if the student does not learn solid writing skills.

     

    Another analogy is people who think that buying PeachTree software will turn them into accountants.

     

    I think the choice is clear cut.

     

    Just my take on this.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2012 11:04 PM   in reply to station_two

    It's been 25 years since artists started moving to computers and most entering school have grown up with a working knowlege of how to use them. There are artists out there extremely skilled in 2D and 3D software and a whole new job market in gaming,animation,and movies. These artists are CG artists and you only have to go as far as CGsociety.org to get an idea of what professional artists and computers accomplish. I'm sure you safely can get an artist who has the relevant computing skills to teach at the school as long as they are a qualified CG artist.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 18, 2012 3:06 AM   in reply to jddgg22

    I see some merit in concentrating on the technical aspects because in my opinion

    • it is not unfair to expect aspiring artists to pursue knowledge on aesthetical principles and applications on their own

    • lacking knowledge or misunderstandings of technical aspects of the matter can lead to inefficient practices that might unnecessarily limit or affect the output 

    • the less dependent potential artists are on others to execute their visions in a technically proper form the better for them – and even if they are successful enough to be able to afford employing assistents actually understanding the intricacies of their work might still be beneficial

     

    Admittedly those points could be argued further and as I work mainly for advertising and pre-press my opinions are hardly well informed with regard to didactic issues.

     
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