I choose my path
How do we see clearly through our own fog.
The world is clearing - what about us?
While Plato insists that tragedy feeds the passions and misleads the seeker after truth, Aristotle believed tragedy to repair the deficiencies in nature, and that tragic drama in particular is justifiable because of the moral contribution it makes. To recognize the continuum of art and the emotions it evokes is to consider the continuum on which aesthetic engagement sits. If aesthetic engagement is a state of awareness where one is awake to engagement the notion of beauty begins to be seen as a willingness and openness to engagement.
The etymology reveals the contiguity between sensation and feeling, of sensory experience and sensibility (Pateman, 1991).‘To keep in touch’ is both to keep in contact and to remain close in feeling. To touch an object is to have a perceptual experience; to be touched by an event is to be emotionally moved by it. To have a tactile experience is to have a sensation in the fingertips; to show tact is to exhibit an awareness of the feelings of others. The very word ‘feel’ embodies the conjunction; one can feel both feelings and objects, and one can do both simultaneously. Aesthetic involves both the perceptual and the affective. The education of aesthetic intelligence is therefore concerned with the development of sensation and feeling into what is commonly called sensibility. (Pateman, 1991). The Ideology of the Aesthetic, Terry Eagleton claims, the word merges into the idea of bodily experience as such. (Pateman, 1991)
To cater for the whole person within learning is not new. Recognised within the mission statements of UNESCO, International Baccalaureate, Reggio Emilo, Steiner, Montessori, Preshill appreciates the learning that happens from the North, South, East and West of our lives. Within education leading figures for example, Eisner and Bloom have recognised the aesthetic nature in which ultimate learning achieves. Broader afield, to list a few appreciates the scientific mindset of for example, Einstein and Bohm who appreciated the collectiveness of how we learn.
One of the essential traits of the artist is that he is born an experimenter. Otherwise an artist repeats himself and becomes aesthetically dead. Only because the artist operates experimentally does he open new fields of experience and disclose new aspects and qualities in familiar scenes and objects. (A&B, p. 629)
Originally, the “artist of genius usurps the leadership of the philosopher.” A genius, once regarded as a spirit who came into being with a human, planting seeds of artistic thought that the human would deliver through physical and practical means, the human became regarded as a genius compli. Once again placing the artist within the center of discussions, the resulting modern exploration into aesthetics and creativity defaulting often toward the artist, the self, rather than the self within the whole. What if wholeness became the opportunity through which the self was explored, rather than the other?
Blumenfeld Jones highlights that knowing an individuals ‘story’ is important, “therefore, I want to introduce myself to you, the reader, and I do so in what I hope is in an embodied manner, true to my life in dance and my sense that the body does matter. Just as when I stand on the earth, what I know of my surroundings is limited to the boundary of the horizon line within which I stand and beyond which I cannot see, so is there a mental horizon, what I term the “horizon of understanding” an accumulation of “knowledge” and experience that is always limited” (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). He continues, (p. 4). …..i initially declared to David Purpel, my chair, that I wasn’t going to be one of those students who wrote autobiographically…I was going to write a “straight” dissertation. I didn’t want to produce a touch-feely work, but rather something more robust, more rigorous.” What is my own story? How does it shape and influence my views?
For a teacher to feel that they must choose to live for themselves or the inner gravitation (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004) of living a life for others is to recognise that the dispositions of an educator requires that motivation goes beyond the personal, beyond the self. To recognise the self within the endeavour of public and social aid becomes a motivating tool toward the pursuit of excellence within the demands of society. To draw this into discussions is to appreciate the dualism which the self encounters experience.
Culture does not happen out there, it’s the way we see and interact. “It sees a body as instrumental in sensing the gaps, the holes,the fissures, that bleed and blur and fold onto one another”. Autoethnography an embodied, felt sense of knowing becomes a creative craft, an artistic act in itself. We use the body as a tool or an instrument to make sense of culture and our bodies within it. Through writing, autoethnography narrates culture by staging interactions with the self and memory dedicating that how we represent experience is just as important as how we gather it. Several names – autobiographical, ethnography, interpretive biography, performance, autoethnography, and even autoanthropology. This method uses participant observation and interviewing, making truth claims inbuilt within objectivity. The critical departures through structing research involve the researcher, research, research-researcher relationship. Rather than asking who I am, the researcher ask how I am, as distinctively different from narratives and autobiography. The field becomes maps of memory and interaction and the place that our body inhabits. “William Pinar (2001) stated, to encourage “a person’s development through knowledge, learning as a form of self-encounter and encounter with what is other and different” (p. 6). It is documenting a personally reflexive and reflective journey through life.” (Bogotch et al., 2017)
1) curriculum was not defined at the turn of the 20th Century by curriculum theorists, but rather by the superintendency. 2) It was a management issue and a budget category. 3) as the field continued to advance, much of the knowledge did not translate into practice. 4), what is touted today as a major educational reform, standardized tests, accountability, and public information, is actually over a hundred years old in terms of what was happening in the 1920s and 1930s in the U.S. Come on people. Where are you?
How do we shape educational discussions to restructure curriculum that challenges and speaks to the educators shaping their world and the learners in it.
Breaking through passivity is not always easy. There is acknowledgement that even when some teachers do attempt to bring some creativity and agency into the curriculum, students themselves who have been acculturated into passivity can be difficult to engage. Schools, like most bureaucracies, prefer the measurable and the predictable. Education has become commodified, as Greene would say, as a single corporation owns the standardized tests used to assess students and the text books used to prepare students for those tests, as well as the exams used to certify teachers in many states. Traditionally school administrators are preoccupied with the quantifiable, learning experiences full of “adventurousness linked to aesthetic encounters” may be considered “subservice of the ends of schooling”
“Understanding how to reclaim the place of education in society and thus challenging the dominant and global discourses requires an understanding of what learning and education stand for in practice. To paraphrase Biesta and Säfström (2011), educators need to find ways to speak as educators, not through other disciplinary ways of knowing. Rather, educators need to learn how to engage with and challenge dominant discourses in the world.”
We must end the privileging of theory over practice; of university professors over educators in primary, secondary, and adult community schools; of intellectualism over sensibilities and lived realities. (p. 20, Bogotch et al., 2017). For James and Dewey, the solution was to observe (listen and study) experiences by experimenting with alternative practices and then recording results that made significant differences in the learning and lives of both students and teachers. (p. 20, Bogotch et al., 2017)
The role of praxis, or the transformation of an existing reality (p. 121, Greene, 1973). John Dewey, who understood that praxis, the application of educational theory and research to the work of the educator, was the only way that true learning would occur. Key to this conceptualization of learning has to be an understanding of the purpose of public education (Bogotch et al., 2017)
In the busy-ness of living a multiple life, one could ask how one truly has the time of energy to live aesthetically. But I would question how one does not have the time to live aesthetically. Blumenfeld states “We are bombarded by so many details every day, and between answering emails, planning dinner. Where is there time to smell the flowers, or drink in the sea, or drop into a kind of solitude that we re/member who we are, part of the earth and re/member that we are sensual creatures on this planet?” Thomas Merton reminds us that “hurry ruins saints and artists….and they cannot take time to be true to themselves.” Hurry also ruins leaders and teachers, administrators and executives. It is not surprising that today there is a whole movement in “slowness” with website, support groups, and literature arising from the need to slow down. There is a cultivation of looking at time in another way, one that can go from chronos” (p. 27, Richmond & Snowber, 2009). As Blumenfeld-Jones explains to engage with life and living is the “art of interpretation, of making sense, practiced in our daily lives, the fusion of self and world and the pursuant knowledge that emerges from this dance.” (p. 3, (Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004).
The method of currere – the infinitive form of curriculum – promises no quick fixes. On the contrary, this autobiographical method asks us to slow down. To remember even re-enter the past, and to meditatively imagine the future. Then slowly, and in one’s own terms, one analyses one’s experience of the past and fantasies of the future in order to understand more fully, with more complexity and subtlety, one’s submergence in the present. (p. 4) (Bogotch et al., 2017) (Pinar, 2012)
“The factory model of education has been discredited repeatedly over the last decades. Even if the primary purpose of an education was to prepare students for employment (which it is not), the factory model does a disservice to young people preparing for the twenty-first-century economy” (p. 16, Elmore, 2011). To look to educational institutions and their teacher training and the changes that have results questions whether we are in a state of evolution or survival.
To look toward the concept of Aesthetic Education is to look toward broadening our engagement with educational dialogue. Aesthetic experience becomes “a particular way of being in the world that brings enhancements to all we do.” (p. 18, Blumenfeld-Jones, 2004). Aesthetic education discussions shifts categories away from current curriculum headings (maths, science, art) toward conceptual ideas such as beauty, judgement, taste, imagination, aesthetic field, aesthetic intelligence, highlighting the contribution to a child’s education made by the arts (Pateman, 1991). Recognising also the etymology, study of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history, allows us to appreciate how the practice of our language form intimate relationships with access to “self-expression” and “self-discovery”.
Grasping a work of art requires curiosity, patience, and a willingness to challenge oneself to extend one’s perceptions beyond the comfortable and familiar. It demands that a depth of meaning and reflection is appreciated within a unique set of personal experiences. “Lending a work of art your life.” As Greene explains, “In some fashion, as one attends, one lends the work one’s life. Or one brings it into the world through a sometimes mysterious interpretive act in a space between oneself and the stage or the wall or the text (p. 128, Greene, 2001).
Aesthetic encounters, experience, awareness and education therefore are connected to primary experience. “One’s own attempts at making art for it is in this activity that understanding becomes consciously embodied, central to aesthetic experience.” To engage aesthetically there is also recognition one should also encounter other art works as further exploration of one’s own productions to enrich the process of meaning making as an aesthetic experience.
To look toward broader conceptual ideas that underpin our frameworks provides new scope for addressing the question of “Why do we teach” (?). “Not only is it necessary to decide among the multiple artistic offerings in every field; it becomes more and more important to decide the significance of the arts and aesthetic experiences in one’s personal life. This experience ought to heighten perceptiveness and sensitivity, as it intensifies self-consciousness with respect to the arts. Authorities (scholars, critics, museum curators) are no longer in position to legislate standards for individual taste and appreciation. Nevertheless the nostalgia remains.” (p. 291, Greene, 1973)
A non-heirachial access to the arts, suggesting that the elitism built into Western fine arts continues to permeate a structure which categorises art as appropriate or inappropriate. What is taste and the distinction, begins to infiltrate this dialogue, drawing on the philosophical constructs of ? and ?. Within this review the work of the Lincoln Centre and Maxine Greene ,as allowing a structure within Aesthetic Education to be explored.
Questions help to frame the inquiry with statements and answers providing more questions. “We’re in it for the kids,” Elmore suggests, is inaccurate (2011). To look toward research that ask honest questions is to open up informative dialogue that becomes a platform for curiosity, why do we do what we do? Acceptance of subtler languages (Shelley) provides an access point that enables us to give a more particular and personal shape to ideas through, for example, paint, or poetry, and in so doing create meaning that is embodied. We continue to benefit from theory in education, however. Our reading and interpretations in every domain are more nuanced, socially relevant, and reflexive. How do we cater for the humanness within our curriculum frameworks that shape educational futures?
To recognize the brain within aesthetics is to appreciate the role of neuroscience, science and embodied cognition within aesthetic education exploration.
Immoderate bias in almost only teaching a systemic, logical deductive way of thinking – considered serious and beneficial for learning the basic school subjects – founded on ‘truth’ and facts (LOOK UP), in preference to preverbal, pre-reflective intuiton, feelings, emotions and self-expression – deemed subjective, non-conformist, unpredictable and capricious
Greene (2001) asserts that ‘ours is a culture that discourages the use of imagination…(Balfour) technical culture tends to focus on “objectivity and neutrality”, on impersonal ways of looking upon the world. Bogotch et. al., (2017) argue that the way forward within U.S contexts is a return to what the progressive U. S philosophers of public education emphasized – the public good. (Bogotch et. al., 2017)
How are you clouded by the knowledge you seek?
Who are you today, who are you tomorrow?
The method of currere – the infinitive form of curriculum – promises no quick fixes. (p. 20, Bogotch et. al., 2017)….the reconciliation we seek is about reconstructing how we know what we know and how researchers and practitioners can come together over meanings of theory and practice, and enter into a meaningful praxis that will restore research and learning to a transformational experiment.