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Tourism a Better Kind of Art Education?
 I presented this paper at the InSEA European Congress 2010 in Rovaniemi, Finland

In a society where tourism is common art education can concentrate on other things like:
visual culture, reading images, visual communication and so on …

My presentation is based on a thought experiment. Art education very often claims that it is essential to fully growth of the personality.

By example in the UNESCO’s Road Map for Arts Education you can read:

Culture and the arts are essential components of a comprehensive education leading to the full development of the individual.”

I know that the term “arts” is used in a wide meaning, but most of us - anyway most of the teachers in Austria or Germany think by this term – on museums, exhibitions and so on. And even the Roadmap for Arts Education is doing so, even if cultural industries are mentioned too. In the opposite this statement says that people which had not the opportunity of art education are lacking “the full development”. This I do not believe, because this would mean that most of my friends and family would be a kind of 100 – x% developed humans.

So I asked: Are there possibilities of education outside art educatiIn a society where tourism is common
art education can concentrate on other things like: visual culture, reading images, visual communication and so on …
on which could have the same effects. And I also asked: Are there educational offers which work as good as art education or even better?

There are to main concepts Education through Art or Education to Art.

Education through Art which still is the motto of INSEA means, that art is a good method for getting key competencies. This comes from the concept of modern art as a kind system of producing knowledge. Education to Art was not very esteemed in Germany as I see it during the last decades, because this concept fitted badly to modern art. Maybe this has to be changed because of the important role images play in our culture now and in the future.


Die Ergebnisse eines Malkurses nach der Methode von Bob Ross.

in einem Samenhaus
Tourists in a Sami hut tasting Sami food

My idea: In a society where tourism is common
art education can concentrate on other things like: visual culture, reading images, visual communication and so on …

We need less Education through Art and more Education to Art.
The Aims of Education through Art are often better reached in areas outside the traditional art or art tradition.
One of these fields is tourism, which I hope I can show you:
  1. Tourism is a better kind oft Education through Art
  2. What Art Education can learn from tourism.

 Tourism is very often a kind of playful mode - look at this

The Aims of Art Education
It was not so easy to find the aims of Art Education in a text. I decided to take some ideas from the first chapter of Elliot W. Eisner’s The Arts and the Creation of Mind.
Refining the sensory system
This is an old tradition and tourism really is working in this domain. We can say that the main motivation for the touristic journey is perception. Tourists discuss where to see the sundown, where to get the most exciting views over the mountain lakes and most of them really are interested to taste foreign food. The tourist industry mostly do everything that we as tourists can concentrate on perception … we get food, a room and a lot of comfort, so we do not have to bother on everyday life routines.
By the way there are 2 kinds of perception. In everyday life:
- we have to do our routines, that means we try to reduce the complexity of perception … to function better, easier and faster.
- During holidays we try to increase the complexity of perception.
The routines mostly are done quite unconsciously. Tourist are very aware of their perceptions, they pay for it with money and time.
Tourists in a Sami hut tasting Sami food; a sleeping room in the Ice Hotel

Sleeping Room in the ICEHOTEL (2009) in Jukkasjärvi

to see the overlooked

I friend of mine had his eastern holidays somewhere in Austria. on the way back from the church on Easter Sunday he discovered a little flower, back home he saw hundreds of them in his garden. He never had seen them before …

Linnea-Blume in Schweden

becoming aware

The Story shows a typical touristic behaviour: been aware of theIn a society where tourism is common
art education can concentrate on other things like: visual culture, reading images, visual communication and so on …
surrounding. We often can see this awareness by the way tourist go around. Usually you can distinguish tourists in a supermarket or on streets from locals by the way they move and look. You even can see this awareness when they make pictures and when they show each other the beauty of the surrounding buildings or landscapes. The main subject of their conversations is perception and beauty. So the perception is aesthetically, because they experience themselves a people who are making experiences and they discuss those meta-experiences. I think nearly all tourists do it this way.

... becoming aware of its own perception and consciousness

... becoming aware of the enviroment and surrounding


The arts have an important role to play in … cultivating our imaginative abilities.
Especially sightseeing is based on imagination. We imagine … how the Sami in former time lived in there huts and tents, how the manage to get the house warm and the fish on the table … We are interested in things no common to our everyday life.


transforming, editing, communicating Tourist transform their experience in pictures and stories, they edit these texts and share them with friends and everybody else on the internet. Here we have a transformation of the area of the polar circle, some kind of picture book you can make out of your pictures ….

Personal Transformation
… experience the world in a new way
… see new patterns
Personal tranformation is a typical aim of Education through Art. Art is seen as a subject, which really has influence on the individual – the artist and the viewer. This is done – so the concept of modern art – by art experience: by experiencing the world in a new way, by experiencing the Other with the big O, by seeing new patterns.

The seasons of Rovaniemi, Finland. The capital of Lapland offers beautiful views for any photographer - the differences between the seasons and the times of the day just have to be captured - the contrast between them is simply amazing.” You can find as much “awareness” as you want on the internet.

… is the result of making sense of a part of the world
… to awaken us from our customary modes of perception

As mentioned. Seeing is the main purpose of the touristic journey – sight seeing is a synonym for this … here you see some stalagmites in a cave in Bavaria, they are seen as a group called crucifixion … this cave is full of “meanings” of that kind. 

 a ride with a dog sleigh in winter near Rovaniemi means constructing meanings and sense.

Touristic behaviour
… playing
… experiencing
… childlike
Coming to an end. Touristic behaviour is really influenced by alternatives. It reminds of carnival. We dress like children or fools …. we lie on the beach nearly undressed with a lot of strangers nearby, we make funny pictures ….

Tourists in Venice on their way "home" to the camping sites and hotels.

I hope you see, that tourism is a very effective method, which can include much more people than the exclusive art system.
In a society where tourism is common
art education can concentrate on other things like: visual culture, reading images, visual communication and so on …

with Santa Claus in Rovaniemi

making pictures (advertisement for Rovaniemi)

Franz Billmayer, 4. September 2010
zuletzt geändert 30.10.2010