• March 23rd, 2016

Aesthetics and Reading

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As we encounter in this readings for this week, the educational space is described in its aesthetic potential as one of intricate, relational complexity: between texts, between the virtual and the actual, between readers and texts, between readers and other readers, between teachers and students, between students and potential spaces. In all three readings, this complexity is characterized as an “unfolding,” a space of “tensions,” an “intermediate area of experience,” and “a relationship space where questions of Being can be pondered.”

1)Taking these three authors’ points into consideration, what does it mean to think about education in terms of aesthetics and an “aesthetic way of knowing” (Irwin, 2003, p. 63)?
2)If we “actively create knowledge through sensing, feeling and thinking” (Irwin, p. 64), how do the aesthetic relations we build in education (either in the classroom, or with text, through theory, etc.) depend on a form of knowledge that cannot be taught, but is nonetheless learned?
3)Revisit Irwin’s description of her class on page 75. How might you describe one of your own experiences in the classroom (either as teacher or student, in an actual or a virtual space) in similar terms of aesthetic description, paying attention to the influence of “underpainting,” “lingering in the in-between space,” and “guided by aesthetic sensibility”? Or, as Irwin herself puts it, “What would we notice if we allowed ourselves to stop and attend to the aesthetic qualities in our lives, work, surroundings and relationships?” (p. 74).
4)What does Brushwood Rose’s claim that “We will never entirely know how to do learning and yet it will continue to get done” (p. 107) imply about our ability to intend certain outcomes in educational situations? What are the implications that follow from such a claim?
5)If, as Brushwood Rose argues (though Winnicott and Greene) that “one must play in order to learn” (p. 109), where do such experiences of play happen? Is it even possible to encourage play (which can itself never be fully determined) in the classroom, often structured by a “demand to learn”?
6)Paying attention to the influence of form, Sumara notes how “Choosing this book over that is to choose one complete fabric of relations over another.” This is an important concern that points to the influence that instructors bring to the material they teach. As teachers, we value that which we point to. How does such pointing work as an invitation? How might it also work otherwise, as a way of shutting down conversation?

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