Elliot Eisner (March 10, 1933 - January 10, 2014) was a professor of Art and Education at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and one of the United States' leading academic minds. He was active in several fields including arts education, curriculum reform, qualitative research, and was the recipient of a University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award in 2005 for his work in education  as well as the Brock International Prize in 2004. In 1992, he became the recipient of the José Vasconcelos World Award of Education in recognition to his 30 years of scholarly and professional work, particularly his contribution in the formulation of educational policy to better understand the potential of the arts in the educational development of the young. He was the 1997 recipient of the Sir Herbert Read Award of the International Society for Education through Art (INSEA).
Elliot Wayne Eisner was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 10, 1933, to a family of Russian Jewish immigrants. His father, Louis Eisner (originally Leibl Iznuk), was born in the shtetl of Pavoloch in the Russian Empire (now present-day Ukraine), and immigrated to America in 1909. He was an Oxen harness maker and a leatherworker, as well as a member of the International Fur & Leather Workers Union. His union experiences, and later work at Chicago's Platt Luggage Factory, instilled in him Socialist leanings. Louis Eisner's union activity provided him an opportunity to meet Eugene Debs at a Socialist convention for his campaign for the Election of 1920. His mother, Eva Perzov (originally Chava Perzovsky), was a stenographer from the town of Chechersk (in present day Belarus).
Elliot Eisner received his M.A (1958) and Ph.D. (1962) in education from the University of Chicago, where he studied with Joseph Schwab, Bruno Bettelheim, Benjamin Bloom and Phillip Jackson. He was appointed Associate Professor of Education and Art at Stanford University in 1965.
His work has supported Discipline-Based Art Education, and he developed the importance of forms of representation in education. During the 1980s, he had a number of exchanges with Denis C. Phillips regarding the status of qualitative research for educational understanding. Eisner also had a well-known debate with Howard Gardner as to whether a work of fiction such as a novel could be submitted as a dissertation (Eisner believed it could, and some novels have since been successfully submitted).
He published regularly; his works included hundreds of articles and over a dozen books. He also frequently spoke before teachers, administrators, and at professional conferences. He served as president of many professional organizations, including the American Educational Research Association, the National Art Education Association, the International Society for Education through Art (InSEA) and the John Dewey Society.
- "ARTIST, EDUCATOR ELLIOT EISNER TO SPEAK AT VANDERBILT". US States News. September 13, 2006.
- "TAMPA & STATE; BULLETIN BOARD; Pg. 6B". St. Petersburg Times. January 21, 1999.
- "2005- Elliot Eisner".
- "Stanford prof wins Brock prize". Tulsa World. October 5, 2003.
- "José Vasconcelos World Award of Education 1992". Retrieved August 14, 2013.