Paul Sproll presented some great ideas about the relationship between Art, Design, and Life in his presentation Learning to Design, Learning About Design, Learning Through Design. If you ever get a chance to see him at this or a future conference, I encourage it. He provides a big picture perspective along with specific resources and concrete, applicable classroom applications.
I especially appreciate one of his many valuable messages presented here, not as a quote, but I hope I have captured his intent.
We must begin by asking, “What are the big ideas and essential questions?” Activity-based art instruction is no longer valid and we must organize instruction around the deeper understandings about art and design that we want our students to come away with. Then we must ensure our instructional plans align with those understandings.