What do you see?

So philosophy was something I’d never touched on in any great detail. It had always scared me a little, with the open ended answers and taxing questions of such great depth. Friday’s lecture was a smorgasbord of interesting tales and insightful theories. I decided to look a bit more into Maxine Greene, see how her philosophical approach to education could improve me as a future educator. Firstly I’d like to highlight that I think philosophical conversation should be encouraged with all age groups. Children have such fresh and mesmerising views on the world that it would be a shame to not tap into that. I thought a group chat about a piece of art would be a starting point and then let them interpret the piece with their own media. Anyway, I digress.

As adults we sympathise greatly with the figure of childhood. Children bring back the memories of our own childhood and we have the need to keep them safe (on the whole). As a child, at home I was free to indulge myself in any one of my interests, whether that was drawing on the garage walls, painting giant butterflies on old cardboard boxes or making towers out of video tapes. Then in the classroom I had to learn subjects that would make me all grown up. My education was a mish mash of home and the classroom and although I know it was necessary for me to learn the subjects we were taught I can’t help but question there relevance or importance. Are basics enough? Then a child’s own thinking should take over? “Growth is not something done to them it is something they do” (John Dewey, Democracy and Education, p41) This quote from John Baldacchino lecture sat with me. As teachers we must facilitate this growth so whatever the children has an urge to do… do we help them do that? Maxine Greene said “Place children in speech and free writing situations in which they can find out what they think and why” (Greene, Releasing the Imagination p. 54). I agree that children’s thoughts should flow and be reared into knowledge by us as educators. I don’t know, however, if the current system and set up of classrooms allows such self study in primary schools.

Greene believed in aesthetic education, namely aesthetic encounters. So the arts and exposure to aesthetic encounters from all fields of art were opportunities to learn and grow. In Greene’s, Variations of a Blue Guitar she states “to be ready to see new dimensions, new facets of the other, to recognize the possibility of some fresh perception or understanding” So when art is truly seen and thought is taken to engage productively you will gain from that experience. I hope as a teacher I will be able to introduce children to art and the joy of being able to analyse and dig deep into the unseen facets of a piece. Exposure to the arts can only broaden an individuals perception of the world and we are working toward a more multi-cultural society. Within the Curriculum for Excellence we encourage children to apply critical thinking in new contexts and be aware of our place in the world, I can see the important gravitas that aesthetic encounters can have on these capabilities.

3 thoughts on “What do you see?

  1. Carrie McLennan

    It’s great to see that, having been previously a bit scared, as you state, to engage with philosophy, this input has really enabled you to reflect and consider your future teaching practice.

  2. Derek Robertson

    I really like what you say here. Art, other than the cinema, music and books to some extent, never really played a great part in my upbringing at home. At school, I was led to believe that art was about who was the best drawer or who did the best cover for their project booklet (I won one year with a picture of a thrush in flight!!! Was dead pleased!) What you say is however something much deeper than that and it is something that I think can help a teacher become a great teacher: a true appreciation of the aesthetic experience and how beautiful things are and what it means to be alive. The arts can certainly offer teachers a brilliant platform on which they can explore learning with their children.

  3. Anna Robb

    Really enjoyed reading this post – highlights the importance of teaching the arts for their own sake and their ability to develop skills which can be applied to other areas of learning, though I agree that putting these philosophical theories into practice in a UK classroom presents a range of challenges – this would be worth exploring in more detail!


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