Concurrent to the present reduction of arts education in mainstream American schools, many evolutionary-minded scholars are asserting that artistic behavior contributes significantly to cognition, has been advantageous for our survival, and satisfies psychological needs that are biologically embedded. Supported by long-term and wide-spread art making among the human species and the spontaneous artful behaviors of children, this cross-disciplinary study explores the possibility that artful behaviors represent an inherent part of human nature. Based on an ethological understanding of art (that is, as a behavior rather than an object), this research uses an interpretivist lens and phenomenological design with the ultimate goal of exploring how such proclivities might inform educational policy and practice. Data collection methods include a combination of observation, participant observation, and teacher interviews in a state-funded pre-kindergarten classroom.
Center for Learning in the Arts, Sciences and Sustainability, UC Irvine