The Aesthetics of Education

| February 11, 2011

I’ve been working a lot lately on the imagery of educational philosophy. Which is to say: what if we took the aesthetics of education not to be a particular sub-discipline, but instead thought of educational thought as essentially an aesthetic problem? What is the “art,” in its expansive sense, of education?

Having taught a few graduate courses framed in this way, to Art Ed students, I became convinced that we need to be able to work more nimbly with the material of educational thinking. To approach it as an aesthetic/design challenge.

This means at least two things to me. First that we need to be able to notice, pull out, and work with what is usually dismissed as the “metaphors” philosophers of education are working with. My work with the talented Art Ed students was largely down this line, playing with different ways to grab hold of philosophical works and see what we are working with.

Second, we need to be able to think of these beyond some sort of “representation” of a philosophy, and see that they are live. In other words, we need to cultivate a comfort and aptitude with working with this material in a generative, problem solving fashion. To that end, I’ve begun to try to work out my own thinking about the aesthetic history of education by sketching out not just its larger imagery, but the more problematic seams, transitions, and black boxes that I take to be the working dimensions at play in any given iteration.

What I’ve discovered, even at the early stages of this exploration, is the power of working these ideas out in space.

Joel Speasmaker on Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit

I will have to leave, for the moment, the larger questions of architecture and practice, and the paradoxical “representational space” so often at work in thinking about education.

But for now, let me point your attention to a nice engagement with Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, by Joel Speasmaker, over at Thinking for a Living.

Here’s the link:

Mind/Spirit or, Philosophy as a Tool for Visual Interpretation « Thinking for a Living.

Hopefully we will see much more of this kind of exploration.