29 SES 05, Arts Education and Creative Strategies for Learning
In this paper we attempt to compare and contrast the role accorded to the arts within dominant conceptions of “creativity” with the possibilities offered by Whitehead’s discussion of “aesthetic education”. Though there are tensions between some of the rhetorics surrounding creativity, a number of them are brought together in what some educationalists refer to as a “creativity movement”. Troman, Jeffrey and Ragi maintain that the origins of this movement derive from (1) progressive philosophies; (2) the influence and realisation of many parts of the new “knowledge industries” whereby “the creativity of the worker is new resource of labour power to be tapped for increased performance and prosperity in the 21st century” and (3) the rise in the part played by the arts in policy, partly legitimated by the forward –looking industrial imperatives (Troman, Jeffrey and Ragi, 2008). Evidence that such a movement exists may be found in Scotland’s recent development of a new curriculum (Education Scotland, 2013) and what has happened there is in keeping with developments in New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and indeed the rest of the UK over the last 10-15 years (Loveless and Williamson, 2013, p. 82).
We give particular attention to the third aspect of the creativity movement identified by Ragi, et al. It seems as though the arts and indeed creativity generally have come to be seen as effective economic resources. This may be good news for arts funding but is it good news for art itself? Since time in memoriam, art has been an object of commerce, but to see it and whatever creative power exists behind it as an economic resource is quite another matter. Perhaps creativity and art are becoming resources rather like the Rhine as discussed by Heidegger in ‘The Question Concerning Technology’. For Heidegger, the hydroelectric plant is not built into the river. Rather, “what the river is now, namely, a water power supplier, derives from the essence of the power station” (Heidegger, 1977, p. 16).
In our paper we try and locate an alternative vision of the possibilities for the role of art and artists for education. To do this we draw on Whitehead’s discussion of “aesthetic education” (Whitehead, 1967, p. 199). For Whitehead, aesthetic education involves the development of a sensibility that exceeds the privileged set of abstractions that tend to constitute our common understanding of what education involves. When Whitehead talks about appreciating art he is talking about it in its most general sense whereby the “habit of art is the habit of enjoying vivid values” (ibid. p. 200). To enjoy such vivid values we must move to the other side of representation away from our actualisations to experience the emergence of virtual becomings (Deleuze, 2004). For example, taking the philosopher’s much loved “goldfinch” as an example, we can decide that what has fallen from the tree is a goldfinch in terms of Austinian criteria, where we keep asking questions about how I know that it is a goldfinch until we reach an agreement that it is or isn’t such a thing. Or, we can realise the limitations of this way of going on by opening ourselves to this goldfinch now as it meets and merges with the currents of the wind, as it seems to leave a trail of red in the sky behind it, as it’s call merges and blends with the rush of the water beneath it. In this paper, we draw on the findings of an empirical research project working with artists and teachers to give a flavour of the possibilities for schooling of an aesthetic education.
Bearn, G. (2000). ‘Pointlessness and the University of Beauty’. In P. Dhillon and P. Standish (Eds) Lyotard: Just Education. London: Routledge. Bearn, G. (2011) ‘Sensual Schooling: On the Aesthetic Education of Grownups’. In N. Saito and P. Standish (Eds) Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups Craft, A. (2005). Creativity in Schools Tensions and Dilemmas. London: Routledge. Craft, A. (2011). Creativity and Education Futures learning in a digital age. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books. Craft A., Jeffrey, B. (2008). Creativity and performativity in teaching and learning: tensions, dilemmas, constraints, accommodations and synthesis. British Educational Research Journal, 34(5), pp. 576 – 584. Education Scotland. (2013). The curriculum in Scotland. Retrieved from http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/thecurriculum/ Deleuze, G. (2004). Difference and Repetition. Continuum: London Heidegger, M. (1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York, Harper and Row. Loveless, A. and Williamson, B. (2013). Learning Identities in a Digital Age. London: Routledge. Lather, P. (2007) Getting Lost: Feminist Efforts Towards a double(d) Science, Albany: State University of New York Press. Latour, B. (2013) An Inquiry into Modes of Existence: An Anthropology of the Moderns, Cambridge Massachusetts and London: Harvard University Press. Williams, J. (2003) Gilles Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition: A Critical Introduction and Guide. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh. Whitehead, A. N. (1967) The Aims of Education and Other Essays, New York: The Free Press. Whitehead, A.N. (1967) Science and the Modern World: New York: The Free Press
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