To be serious about art in the curriculum is to be serious about holding the attention of students.
Why do we learn? Aristotle talked of the need for “good habits”, Dewey wrote of developing “dispositions”. The role of the educator also shapes, naturally, unfolding discussions. Becoming more than a fountain of facts how to recognise the role of “action” (including moral action that reflect the needs of society toward sustainable futures) (?) become apparent in shaping curriculum. Peter (?) highlights that certain habits are encouraged before children are old enough to know why. To extend discussions toward this recognition is to appreciate the shift that is required toward education today. “Encountering works of art from one’s own society, and the society of others, educates individuals in the mores and values of diverse cultures, cultivating a tolerance for pluralism that has often aligned aesthetic education with ethics, democracy, and moral education.” (Constantino, 2015) The moral component of aesthetic education gained prominence through the seminal work of and the concept of bildung continued in the aesthetic theories of hermeneutic philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002). (Constantino, 2015). To discuss morals within education is to recognise aesthetic education as providing a platform of educational engagement that shapes the self through character development.
There become two poles through which a path must be found: the simple knowing subject without the forms of its knowledge, and crude matter without form and quality. Both are unknowable; the subject because it is that which knows, matter because without form and quality it cannot be perceived. Yet both are fundamental conditions of all empirical perception. The fundamental error of all systems is the failure to understand this truth. Intelligence and matter are correlates – both stand and fall together – one is the reflex of the other – really one and the same thing regarded from two opposite points of view – one thing is the manifestation of the will. (Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976).
Describe ordinary objects beautifully. Focus. Detail. What Matters.
We have been here before. We are not in a war but we are managing the effects of a war zone. We need beauty more than ever, beauty that is more than skin deep. In the beginning we need to say things that not everyone will like, this is how it works with change, the boundaries and border are redefined.
A Case Study about a Chair:
‘So you’re Mr. Featherston. I hate your chairs; they look as though they are going to grab me! ...Australian designer couple The Featherston’s Mary & Grant. Through a chair. A simple chair. I am going to be a researcher. How can I research and access truth through simiplicity? Maybe the truth lies in what we take for granted.
The Featherston’s would ask, how can we negotiate people’s attachment to tradition while creating designs that give expression to Australia’s changing intellectual and emotional views within an increasingly international and humanist world? This was in the 60's. So much wisdom was given to us from the 60's, what have we learnt?
The Chair: The contour chair was beautiful to look at. Simple, light and sculptural in form, it sat elegantly on tapered legs, organically shaped to cup the body like the calyx of a flower. Made from bent plywood, its form was marked by clean fluid lines that followed the contours of the human body and implied that the chair had grown naturally to fit the person it would support.
Aesthetically and technically sophisticated, it was without rival.
What other objects can we find, what is in a cup, a plate, a spoon, a fork? How can we gain knowledge from our immediate world. How can we find beauty in how we move through the world? As an educator, what are you grateful for, what is beautiful in your teaching space, how can you make it so?
"The chair and its manifesto of possibility for a generation emerging from a decade of wartime restrictions. It was a symbol of optimism, representing a return to comfort, and the creation of a new way of life by artists, architects and designers that would bring the benefits of modernisation to Australia."
We need a chair for education. Let's create a new chair to sit in, one that is comfy and nourishing.
The chair took several years of experimentation. We are entering a period of experimentation. We have to have no tolerance for war. But our war will fire our ambition, shape a new and better world. Let’s play. This new chair is gonna take time, we need time, let's not rush, but explore gently and opening with a heart full of love, acceptance and non-judgement.
How did the Featherston's prepare for this transition. An intense period of self-education. Featherston experimented with form, identity patterns of need and shaped his typology of furniture accordingly. What is your typology. Write and notice your style, what is hidden in the words you write? Adding colour and elegance, while showing how appropriately designed furniture could provide a sense of spaciousness and a unifying functional and aesthetic logic to the modestly scaled home. What are your colours, if you could write in a colour what would it be? Featherston drew heavily on American developments to shape his professional practice and design thinking. Are we done with all of this Americanism?
What about the European influence, how does that shape our thinking. We are a product of our European heritage, why is America our source of honey? What about our indigenous people?
His furniture design, manifestation of a creative preoccupation with form which also extended to pottery, glass and experimental colour photography. Drew his inspiration from natural forms such as bones, seashells, driftwood, trees and stones. In Featherston, Australia had a young entrepreneur whose ‘creative impulse’ and passionate pursuit of new ideas was, like that of the modern artists, contributing to the development of a new aesthetic order. Entirely fresh and original. It was elegant and had an ‘honesty and purity of form not seen before in Australian furniture and seldom encountered in modern Australian sculpture'. How can we celebrate natural forms? They are everywhere. How are they present in our classrooms?
The Featherston’s concluded that the creative impulse that lay at the heart of people’s lives and a collective sense of place was the primary humanising force behind the drive for civilisation and progress’.
Mary Featherston (2018), an Australian designer, throughout her design career, found her attention increasingly turning to design that she considered mattered; design that had a social and cultural impact at a grassroots level. “At the heart of the featherston partnership was a shared belief in the social importance of designing and a passion for educating people to its possibilities. While Grant believed this could be done through furniture, manufacture and the marketplace, Mary believed it should be done through building community – in particular around childhood and learning” (2018).
This couple are key - where are the other Australian partnerships? I want to know you.
What voices need to be heard as we reimagine our programmes?
To look to new horizons is to become open to new worlds. As Maxine Greene reminds us “the world perceived from one place is not the world” (Greene, 1973). Perception extends to all of reality.
Landscapes of practice consist of many different communities of practice and the boundaries between them.
“The metaphor of a landscape ensures that we pay attention to boundaries, to our multi-membership in different communities and to the challenges we face as our personal trajectories take us through multiple communities”(p. 2, Hutchinson et. al., 2015.)
What is science?
We know that scientists and mathematicians think aesthetically, using aesthetic language to characterize their work (elegant solutions, economy of thought that is balanced and pleases in that balance).
What is Creativity?
It serves an ethological function. It is a part of our human proclivity.
How can we explore space from chronos, measured moments, to kairos, unmeasured moments, the time where we forget the time. The measured moments recognise the academic rigour, data and community that has shaped research within the field of aesthetic education. The unmeasured moments, within this literature review, becomes more a metaphor for recognising that future inquiry depends on a mindset that is open to possibilities where we dream, inspire, imagine, and co-create new worlds becomes (Richmond & Snowber, 2009), potentially awakening to new possibilities (Gulla, 2018)
Hegel, in Phenomenology of Mind, recognizes that the true is not merely substance but also subject, a living and self-developing identity and that this truth is the whole essence completes itself through its own development. There is a commitment to listening in order to access rich and meaningful relations and relationships. “This research endeavours to search for meaningful research, involving listening to the leadership of our lives. As human beings in a fast-paced culture, we are not necessarily trained in the art of deep or attentive listening.” (Richmond and Snowber, 2009).
Aesthetics, in particular aesthetic education guides the following literature review and narrative. At the core of aesthetic experience are sensations and their reciprocal emotions (Chatterjee, 2014, p. 182) that describe and evoke the quality of one’s experience to make meaning. The observer becomes engaged, as an artist, in order to provide critique that is meaningful. Both intuitive and critical, making an aesthetic judgement – the aesthetic experience – requires a curiosity of mind and special attentiveness. The experience is immediate, dynamic and empathetic, implicating all our perceptual abilities and our imagination. Aesthetic experience, through this definition becomes an attitude through which the following research can be explored. Opposed to this, therefore, is exclusively logical, observations that aim at explaining reality, blocking the potential for inquiry that is rich and exciting. According to Eisner, “forms of representation are the devices that humans use to make public conceptions that are privately held….this public status might take the form of words, pictures, music, mathematics, dance, and the like” (p. 39). The significance of the multimodal flexibility (Eisner, 2002) for cognitive development as students develop productive habits of mind such as attention to relationships, tolerance of ambiguity, resistance to premature closure, and feelings of self-efficacy to. Eisner’s ideas about the cognitive potential of arts education was significantly informed by John Dewey’s writings on qualitative thought and his aesthetic theory of art as experience. Constantino (2015) explains aesthetic education as “engagement with manifestations of human artistic expression throughout history for mutual cultural education, both local and global.” (p. 229). To look to aesthetic education provides an expansive platform of transdisciplinary engagement toward educational futures, purpose and inclusivity.
Discussions on aesthetic education, although philosophical in its intent, shows a requirement to “exist” (Pateman, 1991). “For aesthetics to be a legitimate subject, the aesthetics must, in some sense, exist” (p. 1, Pateman, 1991). So what is the aesthetic? Why do some doubt that it exists? How does the aesthetic relate to art? How can transactions, the live encounters with aesthetics bring about change, by changing learners and the educational frameworks and policy that guides them? Through the following literature review we explore these ideas. “The aim of philosophic inquiry is to make things clear, to sharpen awareness of alternatives, to indicate relationships and connections, all in the hope of making practical judgments that will affect the teach act.” (p. 121, Greene, 1973). Finding truth is to, as Heidegger explains, to unconceal. “truth establishes itself in the design (validity) – it throws a new and extraordinary light on things. (p. 649, Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976). To draw in the philosophic mindset is to broaden discussions when asking the questions, What does it mean “to know”, “to be sure,” to hold a confirmed belief? What does it mean to be intelligent, to use one’s mind? Through a philosophical and aesthetic grounding there is recognition that thinking in itself, has its own aesthetic quality (p. 599, Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976) “A truly well rounded education must include such opportunities if we are to be able to see beyond the horizon to imagine better possibilities for our world.” (Gulla, 2018).
Within our aesthetic understanding and “awakening” there sometimes becomes moments to bracket our intellectualising. …Robert Schumann, when asked what a particular sonata meant, he returned to the piano, played the sonata again, and said, “That is what it means”….if we look past the motion to get to the idea of which the motion is seen only as a transparent marker, then we miss the dance altogether and we lose the reflection (p. 296, Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). Movement, dance, engaging in the dance of discussion, research, the playfulness of inquiry becomes pivotal to the literature review.
There is an acknowledged idealism within this research quest. “thus true philosophy must always be idealistic; indeed, it must be so in order to be merely honest – immediate knowledge lies within his own consciousness. Beyond this consciousness there can be no immediate certainty.” (Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976). From the empirical standpoint of the other sciences, it is quite right to assume the objective world as something absolutely given; but not so for the standpoint of philosophy, which has to go back to what is first and original. While philosophy starts from idealism, realism starts from an arbitrary assumption and ignores the reality that all that is known lies within consciousness (Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976). This research asks the question: What changes would we afford within education if we allowed idealism to permeate our worldview?
I will not apologise unless it is warranted. I will remain kind and open but still tell people to fuck off if they deserve it.
For this I look to the role of art, in particular contemporary art, within this quest as a means to open new worlds, changing the familiar to the unfamiliar in search of newness. As Heidegger expresses, Art has the fundamental historical function of revealing to man the being which is entrusted to him in the fulfillment of his human destiny as an individual and as a people.
Within this quest, anthropology and a documentary style of engagement toward contemporary art allow for rigorous attention, moving ideas beyond the sentimental and asking, how does art, in particular art-making allow us to know things that would otherwise be unknowable? (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). How can paradox’s, confusions and conflict be addressed and temporarily resolved through art? This research seeks to challenge the post-Enlightenment Western Culture values of science and looks to other second-class registrars of knowing including emotion, feeling, and imagination (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). The Greeks, specifically Plato, distrusted artists because they did not use reason to arrive at their end understandings, and he trusted only reason to yield truth. “While Plato distrusted the writer of dramas and would deny him a chorus, he sees an important role for the other literary arts as long as they are controlled by the vision of education which the philosopher possesses.” (Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976). This prejudice remains with us in many forms, including how we approach education as a refinement of the rational intelligence and systems. This understanding also brings into play other factors such as the value constraints placed on the artist within their lived worlds.
To look to contemporary art is to align with, concerns of postmodern theory (seen as scepticism towards “grand narratives” such as truth, objective knowledge, self-identity, history, the canon, universal values, morality, creative authorship, intended meaning), and explore such features of culture as the media, sexuality, politics, gender, ethnicity, technology and the environment. To draw together politics and art is to remove the common hermeneutic seal (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004) that can distance the potentiality of these connected agents for change. To think about hermeneutics and the arts as practices of freedom that can renew curriculum research through uniting theory and practice is to provide a new pool through which knowledge can collate. To take a contemporary stance is to take a critical stance, this is unavoidable, recognising that silence and observation can also shape our engagement along with critique and openness. Croce boldly claims that aesthetics is philosophy and that a notion of self-contained aesthetics loses philosophical intent.
If research is not part of the solution, it is part of the problem.
Technique within artistic development is recognized throughout this study but through a lens of engagement, as Blumenfeld-Jones (2004) highlights, how do we create artists within us all? (from leadership paper). To devote oneself to the craft of art comes with a social cost in that an artist will take on a social status aligned with the sacrifices of dedication toward their craft. To become an artist is a path not chosen by all. Within this research the lineage through which skills are achieved is recognized as taking years of practice and commitment. However, within these discussions there is a search for how to access the artistry within many and how to promote a mindset and willingness toward the artistry of life as an endeavor of our humanness. As Schopenhauer expresses, understanding, technical skill and routine must here fill up the gaps which the conception of inspiration of genius has left – my focus is the conception of inspiration (p. 455, Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976).
Where to? Exploring curriculum/policy is to recognise how curriculum influences the daily work carried out by educators. “I used to think that policy was the solution. And now I think that policy is the problem” (Elmore, 2011). Elmore continues, “I used to think that people’s beliefs determined their practices. And now I think that people’s practices determine their beliefs.” (p. 37). “The result is an education sector that is overwhelmed with policy, conditioned to respond to the immediate demands of whoever controls the political agenda, and not invested in the long-term health of the sector and the people who work in it.” (Elmore, 2011). The pluralism, both politically, systematically and individually that results in a borderless and boundless set of social and political expectations has consequences that result, not from the expansion of educational ideals, but an entropy, a retreat due to conditions that are overwhelming. To overwhelm is to weaken the professionality or a body rather than strengthen. Maxine Greene reminds us that “learning is forced down narrower and narrower channels,” and that young people are “alienated from the appearances of the world, distanced from their feelings, caught between sensory indulgence and a bored passivity.” (p. 318, Gulla, 2018).
“If the teacher agrees to submerge himself into the system, if he consents to being defined by others’ view of what he is supposed to be, he gives up his freedom “to see, to understand, and to signify” for himself. If he is immersed and impermeable, he can hardly stir others to define themselves as individuals. If, on the other hand, he is willing to take the view of the homecomer and create a new perspective on what he has habitually considered real, his teaching may become the project of a person vitally open to his students and the world.” (p. 270, Greene, 1973). To endeavour to look to ways to become ”full human agents, capable of understanding ourselves, and hence of defining an identity, through our acquisition of rich human languages of expression.” (Richmond & Snowber, 2009). The aim is that this will be achieved through the exploration of aesthetics, in particular aesthetic education (encounters, perception, participation). Aesthetic perception, as will be further explored becomes about how the self engages within experiences in a manner that derives meaning. Forquin (1973) argues that ‘aesthetic perception implies a digression (if not to say deviation) in thinking, wherein the world is considered as a landscape, a totality of stimuli, and not as a set of useful tools’ (translation) p. 26). “Discourse is the link between text and action because it its activity it is understood as being not only assertions made about the world but actions made in the world.” (p. 301, Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004)
Through questions, discussion and the language that unfolds there becomes the hermeneutic opportunity to transform standard discussions and current educational language. How we can play and make words move. “One must play – all of the time, with the words.” (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). “How can we achieve greater freedom with our labels? The desire for such control, however, is not merely Western nor merely modernist, but is, also patriarchal. According to Carol Gilligan, a socially constructed masculine desire.” (p. 267, Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). How can this research challenge the patriarchal bound system through a soft rather than direct lens of femininity?
To discuss language is to discuss phenomenology. The phenomenologist, more than the existentialist, is interested in language, because language brings things into the open for the human being. (?). “Derrida admits: There is no language that is not referential in a certain way” (p 26, Richmond & Snowber, 2009). “every human being has the capacity to look critically at his world if he is freed to do so through dialogue. Equipped with the necessary skills, he can deal critically with his reality, once he has become conscious of how he perceives it.” (p. 167, Greene, 1973).
To discuss phenomenology is to discuss critical engagement.“…language, and art in itself is trying to get a fix on what life means for us in the twenty-first century. The answering of Berger’s question “Where are we?” falls into this realm”. (p. 23, Richmond and Snowber, 2009).
Our identity is articulated and expressed, “dialogically,” that is, through various languages (art, gesture, love, words) used in relation to a context of community values, significant others, history, traditions, or what Taylor calls “horizons of significance.” There is an appreciation, as Richmond and Snowber highlight, that one cannot developed as an authentic person if he/she does not interact with the world, with other values: conceptions of the good or beauty (Richmond & Snowber, 2009). What of other modes of awareness: feeling, intuition, empathy? When does an individual know what he knows? How does he communicate his knowing to another? Language becomes a means toward human agency and voice, self responsibility, truth, dependable meaning, and the (universal) idea of respect for persons (Moi ??, Derrida ??), bound within the life of a community, an ethical community, a means through critical (?), deconstructive (?), “a respond to thought, language and imagery show the potential to offset mass hypnosis” (p. 26, Richmond and Snowber, 2009). (Xx) essential thinking. He has started, coming our of phenomenology, with the idea of truth as evidence, opening up, clearing, lighting, the self-showing of beings in overtness
The connotation we bring to words, the commitments we give to certain ideas, or the perceptual selections we make from among relevant alternatives are all predicated upon and integrated through the unique being of each individual. Aesthetics and how we interpret and represent through language show correlation to begin to shift our engagement with curriculum, policy and educational frameworks.
What questions could redefine our engagement with education? What text book do you use could become, when was the last time you went camping? What is your timetable could become, what passion projects are your working on at the moment?. “The teacher’s responsibilities become more and more complex; and she/he is required every day to reinterpret, to make his own sense of modern life. Because modern life has so many aspects and dimensions, because it cannot be fully apprehended by conventional means, we turn one last time to the arts and their relevance for the teacher who is willing to a take a stranger’s view” (Greene, 1973)
To engage in aesthetics is to also appreciate the mind as finite, we cannot be aware of everything relevant to what we are doing. (Pateman, 1991). What a write (or painter or composer) is unaware of may be noticed by others and – especially if it is patterned – may be assigned a meaning and a value by them. This surplus of meaning (Pateman, 1991) within the realm of aesthetic education, becomes more central to the individual and their learning. Pateman, 1991, explains this notion of unconsciousness as well as conscious mental agency is controversial, but through the preparedness to explore the blurred borders of contemporary research, the willingness to sit in the spaces and on the fringe, looking in and out toward possible futures, is to actively embrace the challenges and that controversy provides a potential vehicle for change.
Such horizons of significance are not absolute or fixed by authority for all time, they evolve as we evolve. Valued ideas enable us to focus on what makes life worth living, and enable us to question. Through educational language steeped in empirical rigour, this project looks to pathways that recognise how subtler languages can become embodied, enabling experience to be phenomenologically lived and accessed as a tool toward an evolutionary mindset directed toward educational futures where imagination and creative expression show possibility as central toward educational policy and the symbolism that grounds its existence. “We are wiser now about needing to keep some hold on goodness truth and beauty.” (p. 26, Richmond & Snowber, 2009) “Our impetus…comes from the recognition that we seldom stop to consider what learning really means in relation to teacher education, or where learning happens, as we work to prepare well-rounded professionals for a future that we cannot yet fully envision.” (Starr & Sanford, 2016).
Aesthetics Continued....what is it, light reading....get a cup of tea.
Throughout Western thought, the way the world works was initially, the province of philosophy where both pheonomena of the mind and phenomena of the material world were explored. Aesthetics refers to that which is perceptive through the senses. “Of or pertaining to aestetha: things perceptible by the senses, things that are material (as opposed to thinkable or immaterial) (p. 7, Pateman, 1991). For Greene, as referenced by Gulla (2018) works of art are not to be passively experienced. They are a to be “achieved” (Greene, 1980, p. 316). A “certain stance” (p. 316, Gulla, 2018) is required of us “if the sounds and the light are to become available to consciousness” (p. 316, Gulla, 2018).
Pateman explains, “suppose, as a first shot, one characterized the aesthetic as whatever it is in things which makes them pleasing or displeasing to the senses. This makes the scope of aesthetics potentially very wide, since a good wine, a subtle perfume, a fine silk are all pleasing to the senses….it is simply untrue that a great novel is pleasing to the senses. The pleasure we get in reading the novel is a mental or intellectual pleasure. The novel touches our imagination and our emotions.” (p. 1, Pateman, 1991). Pateman continues to explain that music, visual art, each experience, more so than pleasing is an intellectual, mental engagement that excites the imagination and emotions through a mode of pleasure aligned with sensation, harmonious configurations, patterns and forms. (Pateman, 1991).
Things can be enjoyed – wine or fruit – without imaginative engagement.
Pateman suggests “suppose we took out “the senses” from the initial characterization and replaced it with ‘the mind’. We now have another set of problems. Undoubtedly, there are pleasing ideas….experience and satisfaction….because the pleasurable idea has no connection to any specific or particular experience of the senses.” (p. 2, Pateman, 1991). After returning to the conundrum of the novel and that a novel could be experienced using eyes, ears (having it read) or even through braille, whereby there is no connection of the mind to a particular sense as say reading a score is not a substitute for listening to the music. Pateman suggests that his initial definition of “pleasing to the mind as made active by a connected sense experience” (p. 2, 1991) requires further elaboration. (Pateman, 1991).
To conclude on the musings of Pateman, he suggests that rather than directly equate aesthetic experience with the properties of an object, but rather in the attitude taken up towards objects, a desire to possess, think, consider and engage.
Aesthetic consciousness becomes a state that is sharp, attentive and exercises judgement, an awareness of and “focus upon the exercise of judgement about our senses as a human capacity that connects us to the world around us directly and carries information and value.” To attribute value to the definition of aesthetics is to recognise the interrelationship between aesthetics, as an individual form of engagement which gives attention to a given reality leading to special perceptions, appearances and experiences in respect of an object, a situation, an event, a concept, a person. (Pateman, 1991) but also the appreciation that without our place within the social world, our sense of self fails to exist.
Plato's non-systematic and suggestive approach lays the Greek foundations of Western thought and philosophical aesthetics. In his dialogues, he generates 4 themes, (A&B) according to the ideas of justice, the good, courage, temperance and the beautiful. Within the spirit of critical analysis and engagement, the dialogues allow the audience to engage through reflection, drawing their own inferences. Through Plato’s explorations there is a generic appreciation of art, the techne. Techne suggested that without measure, there can be no art at all. Measurement applied, through skill and knowledge, allowed a knowing that drew forth a making that was good, beautiful and tasteful. Today measurement, through standardized forms, applies measurement to the outcome rather than the experience. To recognize Plato’s intent is to appreciate that techne applied pertains to the attributes of aesthetics as a sense of knowing. More complete than a practical knowing, this also encompassed the proper length of a speech, organization of a painting, distribution of functions in a society, proper organization of language in a poem, to command the art of measurement. Within this appreciation techne, rather than merely skill acquisition becomes also about taste. Taste, a subjective and individual critique of an experience draws on the experiences of the individual and leads toward engagement. Engagement, a key aspect of aesthetic experience, recognises that through engagement, there is an attention and awareness that draws forth the techne. Technical skill, often seen as being the precursor to learning and change within educational frameworks, from this appreciation sees techne, and the ability to measure, as to establish a framework of knowing that is embedded within beauty. To recognise measurement through this guise is to appreciate Greene’s sentiment, “many young people, however, nothing could be more alien than ‘measured forms.’ “The perceive life as fluid, encompassing, an affair of discontinuous events to be felt, to be celebrated, to be sensed. Threatened by anonymity, conditioning, and quantification, they seek occasions for “grooving” for engagement, for acting out, for expansion of consciousness, for discovering what it is to be.” (p. 291, Greene, 1973). Possibly through the view of measurement as a tasteful engagement their provides a new template for exploration of measurement.
To learn is to experience. Within this idea, modelling and imitation of experience, as Plato explored, mimesis, is regarded as pivotal within the act of engagement. Throughout Aesthetic Education, mimeses becomes a form of imitation that draws forth awareness of the self, rather than as a direct form of imitation that is of benefit to the state. To imitate is to observe through the senses, to explore an experience with empathy, openness and attention. This state of learning, employing the use of mirror neurons, engages with our human ability to learn through observation. Observation demands that the learner is receptive to the information presented. To provide an environment that draws forth the ability to experience completely in a receptive state brings into question the internal and external spaces that are required to engage.
Today, an environment that is seen as conducive to learning is often associated with a sense of calm. However, inspiration toward achieving poetic creativity, was to Plato, a form of mania, an erotic madness that drew forth the necessary enthusiasm to engage. Hofstadter, & Kuhns (1976), speak of exciting the fancy, something, not given directly to the senses but to lead the fancy on the right path. Voltaire states, “Le secret d’etre ennuyeux, c’est de tout dire”, leaving space for the reader to engage. “Experience is emotional but there are no separate things called emotions in it. There is no expression without excitement, without turmoil. What is sometimes called an act of self-expression might better be termed one of self-exposure; it discloses character or lack of character to others. (A&B, p. 605)”. As Blumenfeld expresses, “Shape and motion are linked ideas. Shape, in dance terms, is arrested motion. “In holding a shape, the dancer must always have the feeling that s/he could move at any moment; a vibratory tension keeps the shape alive and ready and is experienced by the viewer as such.” (p. 314, Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). Tension becomes a way to excited engagement, an emotive vehicle that aids in the assimilation of learning and consequential actions. Tension, what one would associate as a word that dissuades learning becomes a tool toward complete exploration. The tension creates an interest, a catalyst that results in full immersion in the experience and the proceeding outcomes. Rather than tension it could be considered an energy to be used. “Etymologically, an act of expression is a squeezing out, a pressing forth….passionate excitement about the subject matter. (A&B, p. 607)” Aesthetic encounters become a place of this tension, that rather than in a negative context, is the co-operation of the beholder, one that affords a level of engagement, conducive to embodied aesthetic experiences. “Every integral experience moves toward a close, an ending, since it ceases only when the energies active in it have done their proper work. Maturation and fixation are opposites. (A&B, p. 601).
The relationship of aesthetic inquiry to spirituality is appreciated within these discussions. To discuss spirituality undeniably places a wedge and brings into question accepted dialogue within pedagogical discussions. Within the origins and development of aesthetics prior to the Enlightenment, human inquiry explored phenomenon and phenomena collaboratively. To inquire into the material world was spurred by a desire to discover God or, at the very least, discover the signs of God (Pateman, 1991). During the middle ages, the province of theology overran philosophy as a way of understanding the world around us, and philosophy went into quiet mode. With the advent of the Enlightenment, human inquiry developed without direct theological underpinnings whereby inquiry into the material world deemed both theology and philosophy as speculative to accomplishing this feat. Although Aristotle had, prior to this time, explored the notion that external truths might be discoverable through examination of the material world. With the beginnings of modern science, external truths was taken to be the only route to knowledge, and knowing God. Philosophical engagement and the original intention of aesthetics, as a way to know God, became more narrow until there was little left of the broad brief it had during Greek times (Pateman, 1991). The question as to what aspects of spirituality serve us within discussions on aesthetics within modern day discussions remains. Nielsen suggests that this remains essential in our future understanding of ourselves and community within unfolding discussions on educational futures.
“The work of art thus constitutes a challenge, and in meeting the challenge, we experience a characteristic pleasure which is the touchstone for the subsequent judgement of beauty.”
Mostly, there is an acceptance that modern day aesthetics, developing since the eighteenth century Enlightenment, is disconnected from its original Greek intent (Constantino, 2015). German philosopher Alexander Baumgarten (1714-62) becomes recognised as sparking the onset of modern day discussions. (Constantino, 2015). Baumgarten emphasised aesthetics as a study on sense-perception, leading to a modern day definition of aesthetics that looks to initiating conversation on the roll of aesthetics within educational experience. Kant’s Critique of Judgement (1970) furthered and established Baumgarten’s work, creating a pivot through which modern aesthetics could engage. Kant claims that whereas the ordinary and scientific understanding fits instances of things, events, perceptions to pre-existing rules, concepts, schemata or categories, in aesthetic judgment we (in some sense) frame a rule, concept or category to fit the (unique) instance presented by the work of art before us. We do this in an act of imagination, or of what Kant calls ‘reflective judgement’. Aesthetics therefore not only becomes a tool for reflection but a potential tool through which the methodology of aesthetic contemplation can unfold with recognition of the phenomenological uniqueness of lived experience. It also opens the floor for the role of imagination within knowledge acquisition and how critical engagement is essential.
To question with philosophical intent and critique also generate’s controversy. Controversy, imbedded within the continuity of philosophical thought is of interest as another possible arena of how tension facilitates productive engagement and progress. Kant, for example created controversy through the manner in which he opened up the dialogue of interpretation within aesthetics. Controversy also stirred through works such as On the Aesthetic Education of Man, by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) who was questioned for his lack of scientific understanding. Hegel, also considered a force within contemporary aesthetic literature was critiqued, for a style of writing, considered inaccessible in a manner that muddied the intent of aesthetic themes.
Today, philosophical discussions are often questioned for their lack of purpose and direction within academic discussions. However, what Schiller did afford was a moral component, a link to the antiquitous and the Greek definition of aesthetics as a questioning and building of values that shape world views. Schiller, also regarded as lyrical and poetic within his writing style, set a tone of aesthetic exploration that not only explored themes but was presented within an aesthetic guise, merging theory and practice. Hegel, although somewhat ambiguous, provided a template whereby a demand was placed on the viewer toward interpretation. To recognise the work of Schiller and his narrative style is to open toward a style of questioning within academic work that imbues the poetic. Hegel’s interpretive prose once again returns to the Platonic idea of onus on interpretation of the reader and opens a platform for more creative engagement with ideas. Possibly philosophical ideas and aesthetics, although critiqued for their purpose within educational discussions also provide an opportunity that has the potential to unearth new connections, interpretations and possibilities drawing on language to explore metaphors and ideas that shape future thinking.
To understand philosophy from a brief basis of Plato, is to recognize that the cornerstone of philosophical thought continues to pervade, but the neo nature and revisiting of our historical views demands we appreciate views as interpretations. For example, Plotinus, reinforced by Ficino through the Renaissance Neoplatonic Humanist tradition, therefore, over Plato and Aristotle, had a more profound influence on generations of artists, philosophers and critics today. Although he never developed a philosophy of art, within the realms of metaphysics, he gives poetic completeness and lyric grandeur to the doctrines of beauty and became a grounded understanding for Christian philosophy, the writings of Augustine, and renaissance humanism draw and their conceptions of beauty. Recognising that self-identity evolves from self-reflective thought, Plotinus, a reference point for platonic interpretation through modern aesthetic theory, the Cambridge School and nineteenth century romantic idealism shaped philosophical views on beauty and of note, reframed the Platonic questions from the state toward the self, setting a future tone of introspection within the aesthetic field. Today to talk about aesthetics is to quickly align with the self, often ostracising conversations within policy and frameworks that seek to remove the self as central and instead focus on collective outcomes. To recognise the original intent of aesthetics as a facilitation of the state good is to accept the self as only one viewpoint of engagement. The potential to explore the interpretations through which we accept knowledge, is to recognize the bias through which our culture, experience and history affects the information we include or exclude. Within school structures the tendency to resist change is built within these interpretations. To actively engage in research through a more marginal lens, for example feminism provides a possible opportunity to challenge the entrenched viewpoints toward a new clarity, one that values the fluid strength of aesthetic education.
Possibly the spiritual nature of aesthetics, within this research, could align more with the connection to nature. Shaftesbury, although relatively unknown, provided a chord of connection between Greek Aesthetics and modern day thinking through the link of nature. Shaftesbury (?-?) rejected mechanistic materialism and through the interpretation of nature, present a way for, in particular, beauty, to be asserted as an independent value. He claims, “Nature is beautiful in itself, and man – all men – can appreciate nature through a special sensitivity of aesthetic judgement….the creative power of nature is mirrored in the creative power of the poetic mind: recaptured in the beauty of artistic creation.” To discuss nature is to recognize the affect that nature influences our human experience. “Art differs from nature in that its works are instances of freely created beauty, but pleasure taken in the beauty of a work of art may not be so very different, subjectively, from pleasure taken in grasping the laws of nature.” To look to nature is to appreciate the natural science of embodied aesthetics and philosophy as a bridge between Greek antiquity and modern aesthetics. As Schopenhauer also expressed, “The abundance of natural beauty which invites contemplation, and even presses itself upon us.” (A&B, p. 466). To connect with nature is to create a willingness to explore the dualism of mind and body, its internal rhythms and the rhythms of nature as co-existing and respondent to each other.
“Art, like nature, is a composite of symbols wrought by the imagination to which Shaftesbury gives the name ‘emblematic’ symbol and which he distinguishes from conventional signs on the one hand and iconic signs (imitative signs) on the other. (p. 458, Hofstadter & Kuhns, 1976) Symbolism, also playing an important role within appreciating modern day aesthetics. Semiotics – coined by C.S Pierce (1839-1914). (Pateman, 1991, p. 157), is the study of symbols, practiced in Greek philosophy was used by the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, a of social psychology and general psychology. Language is the central example of a system of signs, used by convention. A grammar of a language will first of all comprise a syntax, that is, rules for permissible (grammatical) combinations of word forms. – method for determining the meanings of any combination of forms. For example, there cannot be a syntax of painting, since painters do not use discrete forms, equivalent to word forms: and it is contested whether there is a semantics for much classical instrumental music. Sassure distinguishes between a language (une langue) and speech (parole). (Pateman, 1991). A novel, a painting, and advertisement, a musical composition, a dance are not themselves like languages…language like systems, instances of parole (Pateman, 1991). This questions how semiotics can inform the data collection within the following research.
Although viewpoint provides a lens through which ideas are explored it does not discredit the work of others pertaining to different viewpoints. To draw to light a philosophical lineage is to also accept the individual difference that shapes views. For example, Schopenhauer, although accepting the work of Kant does not accept the distinction between noumena and phenomena. To draw in such distinctions is to recognize aesthetics as a phenomenon of the brain. Ultimately this research seeks to find common ground on which to rest multi-layered pasts and transdisciplinary ideas, seeks to find the commonalities that could potentially shape educational futures. Plato, Ficino and Plotinus, for example all speak of love, where love becomes a desire for the fruition of beauty. To speak of love is to appreciate that without love, there is no will. Heiddeger speaks of will as…... Neitszche speaks of will as…looking to love as a basis for discussion provides new pathways toward knowledge exploration. To access philosophical ideas through transdisciplinary means is to align with discussions of inclusion rather than exclusion, creating a bridge where discussions can create new networks that breed new ideas. Within this literature review there is a willingness to engage more wholly with philosophical ideals that challenge Descartes form of perception is simply the intellect, cogito ergo sum and followed by Berkley, that everything is an idea. Although modern philosophy is a starting point, modern aesthetics places perception through the lens of the individual and unique.
Aesthetic, or the science of art, has not therefore the task of defining art once for all and deducing from this conception its various doctrines, as to cover the whole field of aesthetic science. For its problems are concerned with the relations between art and the other mental forms, and therefore imply both difference and identity. Many have demanded of imagined or desired a self-contained aesthetics, devoid of any general philosophical implications
Regardless of the rich tessitura of aesthetic understanding, around dinner table discussions, aesthetics is attributed to beauty. Concrete and practical, these attempts are exemplified in ‘classical’ rules for composition whether in painting, music or prose. To hold true to these restrictive rules is to place objects of art within categories either as pleasing – beautiful as pertaining to the rules or displeasing – a wilful and ignorant violation of the rules (Pateman, 1991). However, we know, to follow the rules cannot guarantee beauty. We also know that beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, a shifting sands of experience, knowledge and circumstance. Rather than pertaining to this simplistic view, this review searches for more rich definitions of beauty. As Shopenhauer expressed, “While I may not agree with you on what is beautiful, I will find in beauty, as do you, the perfection which all else in consciousness lacks. Beauty is “cathartic to the mind” lifting us for a moment above the tug of desire and the boredom of gratification which are the usual conditions of life.” (A&B, p. 466). Recognising the continuum on which the notion of beauty potentially sits, we also look to instances of study that seek to provide a role model example of opportunities to practically and philosophically engage, finding truth in what is beauty. Beauty, through the definition of aesthetics becomes a tool that attracts our senses, permits engagement, gives a model of patterning through which a kaleidoscope of meanings become available. Beauty becomes a sensory tool of wanting, which connects an individual outside of themselves, “Living aesthetically is an active participation in the world through one’s senses, the outcome of such engagement being unknowable beforehand…I would place the act of discovering personal meaning as basic to aesthetic living. (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). Beauty is a catalyst for inquiry and a search for meaning. Blumenfeld-Jones continues “A search for meaning is not a solipsistic act. It is a search for experience connection with others in our world as well as with our physical and social environment. This connectedness carries with it an experience of wholeness.”
The Lincoln Centre, an institute of study and engagement for educators searches for ways to practically imbue this genuine appreciation of aesthetics through programmes that reach roots to the source of aesthetics through aesthetic encounters. An understanding of aesthetic education within Australia continues to emerge with aesthetics being used only marginally. Of note, is the attention afforded to its potential within the second wave of the national curriculum.
“Aesthetically many activities are worth doing for the sake of engagement in them, and the value of such activity lies in the dynamics of participation…inherent in an aesthetic concern is the realization that outcomes of any tangible sort are unknowable until after the fact….the separation of means from ends inherent in the technical planning…many instances, the means become another sort of ends in themselves.” To discuss aesthetics within education is to recognise the process as guiding data and possibly, data collection. Educational standards, built on outcomes, become a potential obstacle within this field of interest. Even the definition of creativity, considered process driven is derived as “an original product that has value”, shows the outcome built framework through which empirical research is built. In our quest to investigate aesthetics this research looks to living aesthetically in order to quarry data that is productive.
What does this mean? It means to engage imaginatively with a work of art for himself or herself; there can be no ‘secondhand’ experience. For example, before a particular canvas by Cezanne, reading and hearing about the work is, yes, helpful, but to take pleasure in Cenzanne’s painting, one needs to make the categories or concepts already encountered their own, “otherwise there is merely recognition of an instance (scientific or ordinary understanding), not a discovery of a (pleasurable and fresh) way of seeing – no reproduction or reliving of whatever it was that Cezanne was about”. This approaches aesthetics through the Kantian idea that an authentic encounter with a world of art is not mediated through pre-existing rules, categories, the encounter is fresh and ground-breaking and it can result in the creation of a rule, category etc. which is the basis on which the work can subsequently be talked about. This places the sensorial experience before the language, sensed, felt and explored prior to language application. To embrace the learning modality of sensory is to recognise the embodied, neural, emotional, physicalness of our being as humans who learn through experience. Art becomes a force for transformation and a chance to create occasions for new beginnings, extending the limits of perceived reality and imagine new possibilities.
This happens slowly. People are transformed when they “wrench themselves from their submergence in the ordinary and live for a while in the imaginary world” (p. 316, Gulla, 2018). Aesthetic encounters become a stance of questioning and alertness, a recognised willingness (Gulla, 2018) to take the time to look more deeply and to see what is to be seen is to understand what it is to “awaken to the ways in which the arts are grasped by human consciousness (p. 317).” The work of art is not inert, and not passive. The act of critical engagement where the artists voice, transmitted across space and time become mediated by the receivers experience. By taking the time to look and look again and use language and gestures to describe what we observe it opens the view to interpreting the work’s meaning.
Interpretation demands a confidence to engage within a space. To look to interpretation is to question the paramaters (administration, policy, framework) within which interpretation occurs and questions the willingness, motivation that aesthetic interpretation allows.
Aesthetics traditionally directs attention toward the teaching of the arts and the teachers who teach these domains. Within the national curriculum the arts are divided into 5 domains. Within the context of this literature review there is a recognition that aesthetic education reaches to a philosophical and transdisplinary state that transcends the 5 domains and becomes a platform for philosophical engagement within curriculum discussions and educational futures. When educational structures permit engagement and young people are educated in the qualities of attention nurtured through aesthetic education, they may begin to question the surface appearance of their world. (p. 114)
Anaesthetic means ‘a defect of sensations as in paralytic and blasted persons. 1) insensible 2) unfeeling 3) producing insensibility. Certainly, if education is about the cultivation of our humanness it would be about, in part, the cultivation of sensation and our sensitive employment of it as part of our humanness.
Through aesthetic experience aesthetic perception becomes a logical, reflective or analytical way of thinking that is embodied. It calls forth a sensibility toward one’s surroundings. Directed toward practical uses rather than appearances; learning the arts and aesthetic perception, which are inseparable from imagination and creativity, summons forth a perceptive mode of being and a syncretistic, intuitive and pre-reflective way of thinking. To achieve perception it becomes embodied through action. Aesthetic experience and perception therefore become a tools for language that unites the mind, brain and body. Translation back into the logical mode allows communication to occur.
Aesthetic Literacy become a transformative state where the learner is open to perceiving new ways of being, making new connections and continually asking questions, becoming active as a listener and an actor. The critical engagement leads toward assessment.
Elliot Eisner wrote in Cognition and Curriculum, reconsidered (Eisner, 1994) of the importance of providing learners with different forms of representation through which they may communicate meaning. “Aesthetic education is the cultivation of aesthetic understanding and the imagination through active engagement with the visual and performing arts. By engaging with works of art from diverse genres and cultures, students develop the ability to interpret and make meaning from an increasing variety of modes of expression, and through arts practice are able to communicate through multiple forms of representation.” (Constantino, 2015). In America, when it was recognised that students cultural sensitivity was lacking, fine art prints were distributed to schools for the cultural edification of students (Efland, as quoted by Contantino, 2015) “American art educators of that period were anxious to connect art study with the acquisition of American virtues, especially for the children of immigrants.” “There is documented discrepancy in the availability of aesthetic education for different socioeconomic and racial/ethnic groups” (Constantino, 2015).
Aesthetic Education is a practice that elicits experience and perception through allowing a space of ‘becoming’ and to understand that there is always more to be seen or heard. It is a suppleness and responsiveness to new vistas and new forms (p. 317, Gulla, 2018) which pays attention with delayed judgement to the appearance of things. As a Mode of Literacy, Aesthetic Education becomes a “distinctive mode of literacy, an achieved capacity to break with ordinary ways of seeing and hearing” (p. 319, Gulla, 2018).
Greene continued throughout her life to advocate for meaningful and adventurous encounters with the arts as a centrepiece of public education. In 2013, just a few months before her death at the age of 96, she met with a class of English Education graduate students from Lehman College, the Bronx campus of the city university of New York, in her Fifth Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park on a rainy October evening. “The most important aspect of learning is the child’s own experience,” she said. “A child is a person, a valuable person and each one offers their own horizons” (informal communication). This belief in valuing the lived experience of children hearkens back to her urging that we “enable students to release response energies in the face of actual works of art” (p. 320).
The non-aesthetic view, according to Greene falsifies “the nature of the arts and their role in the human career” (p. 318) To teach under the influence of Maxine Greene is to be committed to helping students understand how and why to attend deeply to their world. It is to nurture one’s creativity and imagination in the face of “domesticating forces” and to be “resistant to socialization and control” (p. 319). As a powerful voice in teacher education, her work remains fresh and necessary, and educators continue to be introduced to her writings. “Maxine’s philosophy isn’t something that would end with her. It’s something she would give to other people and it would grow in its directions in them” (Abraham, 2016)
Along with Erik Erickson (1963) Dewey recognised that everyone, from the humblest amongst us to the most accomplished professional, whether in science or the arts, was at one time an infant, a child, and an adolescent who learned and developed before she/he became an adult. The Deweyan invisible hand in education is growth and development. Dewey Life goes on in an environment; not merely in it but because of it, through interaction with it. “No creature lives merely under its skin. Life consists of phases in what the organism falls out of step with the march of surrounding things- then recovers unison with it – either through effort or a happy chance.” (A&B, p. 587)
Dewey recognized that since the artist cares in a peculiar way for the phase of experience in which union is achieved, he does not shun moments of resistance and tension. He rather cultivates them, not for their own sake but because of their potentialities, bringing to living consciousness an experience that is the scientific man interested in problems, in situations wherein tension between the matter of observation and of thought is marked. Of course he cares for their resolution. But he does not rest in it; he passes on to another problem using an attained solution only as a stepping stone from which to set on foot further inquires. (p. 588)
Other related words to aesthetic education include – synaesthetic (feeling with) and kinaesthetic (movement feeling) record and depend upon the same matrix: of sense, of feeling, and of sensibility. To begin to recognise the related concepts associated with Aesthetic Education is to appreciate the embodied aspect to this field, that to encounter, engage and interpret a dualism between mind and body, although tacit, subjective and subtle becomes incapable of gaining fruition without embodiment.