the purposeful molding of man’s aesthetic attitude toward reality. The evolution of this attitude, which paralleled the development of human society from its beginning, is embodied in people’s physical and intellectual activity. It is connected with people’s perception and understanding of the beauty that is found in reality, with their enjoyment of such beauty, and with their aesthetic creativity.
In the socialist society, aesthetic education serves the interests of all the people and is based on a common set of scientific and methodological principles. In the capitalist countries, full access to aesthetic values is the privilege of the elite. The aesthetic requirements of broad strata of the population are satisfied mainly by “mass culture,” which tends to subordinate the consciousness of the masses to the interests of the bourgeoisie. The communist and working-class parties and the democratic forces in the capitalist countries are actively engaged in the struggle against the primitivism and anti-aestheticism of “mass culture.”
In the communist education system, of which it is an integral part, aesthetic education is made to serve the comprehensive development of the individual. Based on Marxist-Leninist aesthetics and on the theory of arts as a manifestation of the nonmaterial culture of mankind, aesthetic education reinforces the aesthetic ideal and enhances apprehension of the beautiful on the part of the people; it develops aesthetic taste and the creative ability to bring beauty into life—to construct life, in the words of K. Marx, “according to the laws of beauty as well” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 42, p. 94).
In life, the beautiful is both the means and the result of aesthetic education. It is found in concentrated form in art and in literature, and it is inseparably connected with nature, social activity, work, everyday life, and relations between people. Aesthetic education makes full use of all the aesthetic phenomena present in reality. Special emphasis is placed on the perception and understanding of the beauty to be found in work and the development of man’s ability to make the beautiful a part of both the process and the results of work.
Education in the arts is a very important part of aesthetic education. Using art as an educational tool, artistic education develops special abilities and talents in the specific types of art—for example, in the representational arts, music, singing, choreography, the theater, and the decorative and applied arts.
In a conversation with C. Zetkin on art in the socialist society, V. I. Lenin emphasized that “it must sink its deepest roots into the very thick of the broadly toiling masses; it must be understandable to these masses and be loved by them” (O vospitanii i obrazovanii, 1973, p. 624). With the evolution of society toward communism, aesthetic education assumes a more important role in the development of man’s nonmaterial culture. In the new environment of the socialist society, where human labor has been freed from slavery and where antagonistic contradictions have been eliminated, the aesthetic aspect of life is becoming increasingly important. In a socially homogeneous environment, the principle of artistic creativity is a powerful aesthetic influence on man. The moral and the aesthetic permeate work, art, literature, city planning, and people’s new way of life and mutual relations. Under these conditions, the aesthetic influence of the environment and systematically organized aesthetic education are combined into a single system to enrich man’s cultural life.
In the mature socialist society of the USSR, the working people have not merely been given broad access to aesthetic values but have also participated directly in their creation. Aesthetic education is systematically planned; it is linked to the moral and ideological development of the individual and the molding of positions that will affect his life. The CPSU guides the development of all forms of artistic creativity toward involvement in the common cause—the building of communism.
One of the most important tasks of aesthetic education is to train people to perceive, enjoy, and correctly evaluate the beautiful in art, in literature, and in life. This can be successfully accomplished in the socialist society, where art continues to be enriched by knowledge of life and where the working people progressively assimilate cultural values.
As stated in Article 27 of the Constitution of the USSR (1977), “The state concerns itself with protecting, augmenting, and making extensive use of society’s cultural wealth for the moral and aesthetic education of the Soviet people, for raising their cultural level. In the USSR development of the professional, amateur, and folk arts is encouraged in every way.”
The people’s aesthetic education is actively promoted by the unions of writers, artists, composers, cinematographers, and other creative members of the intelligentsia, as well as by such clubs as the House of Art Workers, the Central House of Writers, and the Central House of Journalists; these groups constantly support the development of folk arts and of amateur art organizations of students and working people. Working toward the same goal are the theatrical societies, choral societies, societies for the preservation of historical and cultural monuments, societies for the conservation of nature, and various creative arts clubs. The organizational, methodological, and creative centers of amateur artistic activity are the houses of people’s arts and houses of amateur arts.
Also engaged in the task of aesthetic education in the USSR are the numerous palaces and houses of culture (including the houses of culture for students of vocational schools), clubs, people’s universities, and libraries. An important part of their cultural and educational work is the development of people’s arts and amateur artistic activities and the molding of readers’ aesthetic taste.
The people’s aesthetic education is implemented by theaters, concert associations, museums, art galleries and exhibitions, and the cinema. Television, radio, and the press have become the means to bring aesthetic education to the masses by acquainting them with the great works of art and literature as well as with literary and artistic scholarship. Literary and artistic criticism contribute to a more profound understanding of aesthetic concepts and perception of the beautiful.
The goals of aesthetic education are also served by physical culture and sports, which aim at developing the aesthetics of movement, beauty of the body, and fitness for work and for defense. Finally, tourism offers broad opportunities for people to become familiar with artistic masterworks and historical and cultural monuments, and it enlarges the individual’s aesthetic perception of nature, of the heroism of labor, and of the people’s glory in battle.
The professional training of various types of artists is carried out by specialized educational institutions. Various cultural institutes provide training for club personnel, librarians, and supervisors of amateur art activities.
Preschool institutions follow a common program of aesthetic and artistic education. In the schools of general education, vocational schools, and specialized secondary schools, aesthetic education is part of the academic curriculum and is incorporated in the study of all subjects, and especially of literature; in the schools of general education, courses in representational art are taught in grades 1 through 6, and courses in singing and music in grades 1 through 7; extracurricular aesthetic education is included in the organizational activities of the Pioneers and Komsomol. Elective courses are available for in-depth study of literature and art.
Children’s extracurricular institutions contribute to an important extent to the development of creative abilities and talents in many areas, including representational art, literature, music, singing, choreography, the theater, and decorative and applied art. The pedagogical institutes of scientific research of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR and of the ministries of education of the Union republics are engaged in the study of questions related to children’s aesthetic education. The Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the USSR has a specialized scientific research institute of artistic education.
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B. T. LIKHACHEV