The Spaces of Aesthetic Education Author(s): Maxine Greene Source: Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 20, No.

4, 20th Anniversary Issue (Winter, 1986), pp. 56-62 Published by: University of Illinois Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3332600 Accessed: 02/11/2010 17:51
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"1 Such presence. as arts educators. so that they embody common powerful themes rather than seemingly random cacophony. 4. China. Nelson Goodman. Due to the efforts of committed and prescient agents like the Journal of Aesthetic Education. like Russia. Winter 1986 ?1986 Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois . in community centers) and the nurture of aesthetic literacy. in so doing. No. too. Would it not be appropriate if. more charged spheres. we may have something important to teach a warring society. needs the formality of something approximating a public space. The Spaces of Aesthetic Education Maxine Greene For excellence. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund. we could make our contribution to lessening this strife. and Spencer Foundation. is available to everyone. or the Islamic world. and Frank Keppel for their helpful criticisms of an earlier draft. and enriches the mind as well as the spirit? NOTE 1. Certainly the editor of the Jourrnal of Aesthetic Education and his associates have enlisted for the long haul. by offering positive models of cooperation in an enterprise which costs little. the journal has remained as the most comprehensive and reliable repository of significant thought in the area of aesthetic education. I want to suggest that there may be a connection between the opening of such spaces (in schools. Moreover. in arts institutions. there are also considerable grounds for optimism. Vol. too. including ones very different from ours. If there is much ground for pessimism and disappointment in the cause of arts education. the arts may serve as a kind of binding agent in our troubled and fragmented world. so. wrote Hannah Arendt. Thanks to Stephen Dobbs. 20. "the presence of others is always required. Journal of Aesthetic Education. she thought. Cognizant of but rarely bending to fashion. Perhaps the most important challenge for the coming decades is to combine our voices and resources. where people choose to appear before one another as the best they know how to be. But if warriors have something to teach us. Whatever the risks of international cooperation in other areas-and they are obviously far less than the risks of in arts education seems an unqualifiedly noncooperation-collaboration positive venture and could serve as a model for cooperation in other. The work described in this essay is currently being funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. catholic in interests but scrupulous in editorial judgment.56 Journal of Aesthetic Education these resources and indicating how they can be deployed would be a useful and not a particularly costly way of promoting the causes in which we all believe. Here. then. Even as the arts have always benefitted from the sublimation of some of humanity's baser drives. the cup is at least half full. we may well be able to work out cooperative ventures with other societies. there may be a lesson to be drawn from those who carry out more militant forms of struggle.

New perspectivesopen in experience.and style. an "in-between. and choice. go out to the works in an enlarging the fields over which their imaginationscan play deepen. grasping the shifting perspectives that make its many profiles visible. most likely to achieve distinctiveness they can come together with others in speech and action and embarkon new beginningsfor themselves. or indurated in convention"6 to perform the work of attending. This bringsme back to the need to constitute spaceswhere this may be made to happen. To speak of personsis to have active. not only of the painting. they are most meaningfuland . attentiveness. I think of Jean-Paul Sartre writing about the reader having to be "conscious of disclosing in creating. growingbeingsin mind. informed viewers cannot but be moved beyond habitual ways of seeing. Interferencemust be screened out. most of the relations will escape him.but of the envisagedworld. Informed encounters with works of art are always new beginnings.3 and the metaphorsevoke for me the movement past the boundaries of ordinary seeing and hearingmade more likely for those who are "enlightened. MartinHeideggerwrote about the ways in which works of art open worlds.of creatingby disclosing. Heidegger also spoke of the "undisclosed abundance of the unfamiliarand the extraordinary.At once.of course. when they learn how to let their energies perceptionand a focusing of attention."'7There ought to be norms. I think of John Dewey warningagainst being too "lazy. diversify. by doing so."and about how. In my experience."4cognitively awake to what is demanded."s thereby suggestingthe limitations. limitations and constrictions that must be recognizedand transcendedif personsare to learnto learn. there should and be a deliberately cultivated consciousness of craft. When individuals are released to be personally present to paintings or poems or sonatas.new possibilitiesof seeing.aesthetically informed. idle. if the reader"is inattentive. in other words. to disclose something beyond the ordinary. not the "human resources" so often referred to in the calls for educational reform. hearing. uncover what is there. watching contours jut forth against the pictorial plane.feeling are revealed. tired. of constituting an interest that is common to all of them. the kinds of situationswhere aesthetic education can take place. imaginativeness."8 I am describing.Greene:Spaces of Aesthetic Education 57 For one thing. centers (as R. only persons can constitute such spaces.and expand. standard. Noticing the strokesof color modellingthe mountainin a Cizanne painting. Theremay be a new understanding. stupid. Such norms are made explicit mainly when persons are present to one another."2 It is to have in mind when beings with a sense of agency. Of course the encounter must be personal and preferablywordless. when-in their pluralityand difference-they agreeon a way of being together. the viewers (or the readers. open clearingsin the midst of things. As their imaginations work to order what is perceived and.the constrictions of the everyday world. S. for example. They should be spaces in which particularatmospheres are created: atmospheresthat foster active exploringratherthan passivity.decision. governingand infusing the space at hand-norms of thoughtfulness. that allow for the unpredictable the unforeseen.visionsbecome possible that were neversuspectedbefore. Peters has said) "of valuation.or the listeners) must achieve a rapt absorptionif they are to notice what is there to be noticed. or thoughtless.

paint and canvas. and whatever insights they can gather appear to inform their apprehension of enacted plays. How could it have taken the Duke of Illyria and Olivia so long to realize that Cesario was really Viola. yes. used as perspectives or . and even to dimensions of art history. to introduce teachers (and.''9 each art form lends itself to similar exploration. paper. as we have found at New York's Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education10o and in the related institutes throughout the country. depending on level of development and context and grade. or Moliere's The Miser. to learn how to distribute one's weight as Paul Taylor dancers do. To move with a Paul Taylor dancer. In the several institutes. or to find out something about composers' choices and how these find expression in the unfolding of musical materials: such undertakings may make clear the potentialities of musical "making" or the intentional structuring of sound. to relate speech to gesture. For all the distinctiveness of each "language. The point of "doing" criticism with respect to specific paintings or plays or poems or works of music is to point towards and highlight certain aspects of those works people seem not to have noticed in the process of attending. The teachers who attend these institutes and work with professional artists in seminars learn what it signifies to set scenes. which presumes to be a work of music after the models of Mahler and Bach? Various modes of criticism. and not a manservant or a friend? How does Jasper Johns's rendering of the American flag differ from a mere representation of that flag? In what sense is the Guernica "composed"? What are the Buddha bells and the saw doing in George Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children. the presumption is made that their significance for learners is determined by the kinds of questions evoked in the course of experiencing the several arts. bewilderment is expressed in a seminar or workshop after a performance or an exhibition or a reading experience. eventually. so that the teachers can understand that the more they have come to know. the expressions of the face. And this may lead to a mode of attending different and more fulfilling than the reverie or the free-associational thinking that listening to music so often involves. to feel the effort-shape of outflung arms can enhance one's noticing of what happens when Taylor's "Epitaph" is performed upon a stage. And we hope. enough time and care will be taken to allow something similar to happen to children and young people. to improvise. or Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. that when artists and selected performances appear (at their request) in the public schools. They find themselves able to grasp the concept of an illusioned world when they watch enactments of The Glass Menagerie. as well as to concepts of style when they are relevant. clay. certain students) to concepts derived from philosophical aesthetics. verbal language itself) feeds into encounters with actual works of art. of course. say. or to be helped to discover the ways in which the elements of sound can be ordered to make a composition. the nuances of speech. or The Cherry Orchard. a woman. and aesthetics.58 Journal of Aesthetic Education most productive when engagement with the raw materials of art forms (the body in motion. we always arrange for at least two performances. to interpret dramatic scripts. Where criticism is concerned. Efforts are made. the medium of sound. within the fabric of aesthetic education. Often. the more they are able to hear and to see. To work with a musician in exploring the pitch and color of the sounds made by simple instruments. They become surprisingly sensitive to the details of the acting craft: the uses of the body.

"What country. . perception is a task. The point. The same may be said about the consideration of aesthetic concepts in aesthetic education. even for a time. moving inside them through acts of imagination. classroom teachers. arts institution staffs (at least within the institutes). I choose an orientation focused on situation and on interpretation. attending to the same "experienced content. persons find themselves communicating with one another. It may be recalled that Viola. but there are occasions when it expands and becomes increasingly many-faceted. "The aesthetic object . achieving them (against their own personal histories) as meaningful. Like Mikel Dufrenne. that is. "unreal" character of Illyria and the ways in which the language brings into being an "as if" universe. The aesthetic object is the work of art perceived as a work of art. And that gives the measure of the difference. . that is. Acknowledging the range of aesthetic theories and their integral relation to general philosophical world views. Indeed. to understand it. . the "in-between. friends.' 1 Then Isenberg went on to point out that the meaning of particular critics is filled in or completed "by the act of perception." may shift and alter. It is to increase the likelihood of people actively engaging with works of art. as more is understood. for instance. for various individuals. and in part to enable participants to reflect upon the particular interpretations they have made or the verdicts they have (often gratuitously) given. individuals may find that they are taking a wholly representational or mimetic view of drama. in part to share perceptions with those who are newcomers to the domains of art. may be introduced-in part to multiply the ways of seeing or hearing. it is not conclusively to explain. is this?" She is told it is Illyria. For Dufrenne." The object of attention. again." as Arnold Isenberg said. . asks. By means of dialogue carried on among teaching artists. and she asks.12 I conceive the script and even the enactment of Twelfth Night or the painted canvas that Cezanne entitled The Cardplayers as a work of art. this may become another argument for the spaces described above. something intentionally created by a person we think of as an artist. and leads to the discrimination of certain details. Each critical approach gives rise to certain "directions for perceiving. alternative modes of seeing are made accessible. the work of art which gets the perception it solicits and deserves and which is fulfilled in the spectator's docile consciousness." 3 A view of this sort neither sacrifices the work to consciousness nor eliminates consciousness in a consideration of . perceived as aesthetic. "And what should I do in Illyria?" Those questions. is the object aesthetically perceived." Participating in the same way of perceiving. landing on the beach with the sailors. To perceive aesthetically is to perceive faithfully. that language may stimulate a conversation that makes evident the fact that there are indeed many ways of perceiving what happens on the stage. is not to prescribe. When other persons (concentrating for the moment on Twelfth Night) emphasize the illusioned. but. in a certain sense. and many ways of achieving the play in experience. . it is true. which is performed not to judge the truth of [a] description. This is why it is so important to pursue critical activity with works of art at hand and within situations that are in some degree exploratory. certain grouping of those details into patterns. whether those concepts are to be made accessible primarily to clarify the language of the ongoing conversation or to illuminate dimensions of the encounters being lived.Greene:Spaces of Aesthetic Education 59 lenses.

and critical and aesthetic inquiries are all needed if we are to make more likely the informed awareness and discriminating appreciation we associate with aesthetic literacy. along with those having to do with distancing. We have to appeal to people's capacities for "choice and valuation. must remain open. however. too. it may help convince them (and help them to convince others) that art-making and aesthetic experiencing cannot be treated as merely frivolous."'•s He. merely "affective. as I have avoided defining "art. they may become part of what happens in junior high school and high school classrooms for the same reasons. I have also been suggesting that such activity ought to occur in the open. as Dewey said. adventurous character of art. The focal issue of beauty can be raised. and I have avoided a definition of it." merely decorative. its ever-present changes and novel creations. In certain formulations. but it strikes me as particularly important to move teachers to the clarity and reflectiveness aesthetic talk may make possible." Nor does it exclude the lived context of the person engaging with the work: the surrounding sociocultural framework. they are warranted as an aspect of aesthetic education. Such questions as those having to do with the relation between the work and ordinary "reality" can be examined. I believe there can be no true definition of art. as can the difference between aesthetic experiences with the privileged objects called works of art and aesthetic experiences with objects and phenomena appearing in the natural world: sunsets." Like Morris Weitz. that "the very expansive. engagements with medium. then. In the space of aesthetic education. where they can come together in speech and action. the wings of birds. with definition." what relation (if any) exists between the observer or the listener and the artist who brought the work into the world. the backgrounds in biography. makes it logically impossible to ensure any set of defining properties. The space of aesthetic education. treetops. even as the spaces of education generally must remain open." I have been suggesting that continuing authentic encounters with works of art. where persons can appear before one another." to their imaginative capacities. skylines. I have not. children's hands. merely "frills. We can no more institute an aesthetic experience in another person than we can "learn" another human being. affirmed that the use of aesthetic theories is to provoke attentiveness to features of works of art that might otherwise be unheard or unseen. an obstructive term. with imagination. proffered an explanation of what actually gives rise to an aesthetic experience. At the very least. I trust we can do this in situations where students . the kind of reflectiveness that enriches and makes more meaningful the moments of attentiveness with which we are fundamentally concerned.60 Journal of Aesthetic Education the "work itself. Does beauty have to do with a painting or a poem being fully realized? Is beauty. the ideological factors that need to be brought into the open now and then and understood. notice can be taken of what it means "to perceive faithfully. may be provoked in response to experiences with works of art. If they stimulate reflectiveness. what expressive elements exist in the work and how they are to be recognized and understood. or is it "the response to that which to reflection is the consummated movement of matter integrated through its inner relations into a single qualitative whole"?14 Or is it more illuminating to speak of significance rather than beauty? Such questions. to their ability to take initiatives and attend actively.

Literature & Existentialism (New York: Citadel Press. "Preparing Teachers of Aesthetic Education.Greene:Spaces of Aesthetic Education 61 and teachers both are responsive to the summons of articulated norms. At once. 310. Balch & Company. "Critical Communiction. p. 14. 1965). 54. I want to say that the margin is the place for those feelings and intuitions which daily life doesn't have a place for. 1971). The author has served as "philosoher-in-residence" there since the founding of the Institute. The Languages of Art (Indianapolis: Hackett. John Dewey. 1958).. providing a 5. p. Language.: Northwestern University Press. San Diego. Even in a world most secular. Nashville. 3. pp. Poetry.'7 And indeed it must. 76. HannahArendt. I hope we can do this without an overriding need for explanation. The Lincoln Center Institute has been in existence for eleven years. Arnold Isenberg. 7. Ethics and Education (London: George Allen & Unwin. 130. people can make a space for themselves. always possibilities. Louis: CEMREL. Jean-Paul Sartre. Dewey. because in these spaces we are free. 10. Mikel Dufrenne. p.Poetry. and mostly seems to suppress . p. 9. Heidegger." in Aesthetics and the Theory of Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Like the critic Denis Donoghue.. Art as Experience (New York: Minton.16 We can integrate. S. 1973). Martin Heidegger. p. Ibid.. The HumanCondition(Chicago:Universityof ChicagoPress.." says Wallace Stevens's man with the blue guitar.Thought (New York: Harper& Row. Houston. 1972). which isn't at all the same as saying the arts are a substitute for religion . visions of how things ought to be in the artistic-aesthetic domains. 162-63. 1978). There must always be openings. 49. . The Phenomenology of Aesthetic Experience (Evanston. and fill it with intimations of freedom and presence.Art as Experience. 11. 12. The Human Condition.. 6. 43. Broudy. I want (even in open spaces) to grant the arts their mystery. It's enough that the arts have a special care for those feelings and intuitions which otherwise are crowded out in our works and days. 54. 13. Donoghue wrote: The arts are on the margin.. 1976). 4. Thought. With the arts.. for measurable results. Language. NOTES 1. R. and it doesn't bother me to say that they are marginal . incarnate. Peters. "The blue guitar surprises you. See Harry S. but we must never subsume the arts in our search for aesthetic literacy. p. 1934). Syracuse. the arts can make a space for our intuition of mystery.. 8. Ill. three-week summer programfor teachers from about 140 school districtsin the greater New York and New Jersey area..p. for calculative measures. Tulsa. 2." in Teacher Education for Aesthetic Education: A Progress Report (St. 182. 1973). See Nelson Goodman. Arendt. The Institute has been replicated in cities such as Buffalo.. p. p. lii. We confront the unpredictable.

p. 17. Brownand Company. p. 4."1 What is captivatingfor art educators about Hospers's review of creativityis that he both explodes the expressiontheory of artistic creation and raises questions about other positions that are currently part of the rationale for art education programsin the public schools.62 Journal of Aesthetic Education 15."in CollectedPoems (New York:AlfredA. Knopf. as a movement called discipline-basedart education (DBAE)2 is gaining recognition. (Philadelphia: 1978). Rather. He identified creativityas a clusterof intriguingquestions and proceeded to "providea feeling for the problemand to explode a few theories. Vol. and they might well ask. Hospers'sidentification of the culturallag in questioningthe expressiontheory in aestheticshas a parallelin art education. 16. The Hospers review of creativity is particularlytimely for art education. Winter 1986 of ?1986 Boardof Trusteesof the University Illinois . 1964). 129.however. "The Man with the Blue Guitar. 127. "The Role of Theory in Aesthetics. "Whathas all this to do with artistic creation?" He identified an elementary confusion is between the statement in the expression theory that "art-creation the expression of feeling" and the idea that artists can express their feelLournal of Aesthetic Education. MorrisWeitz. Joseph Margolis Temple UniversityPress. "Whatdoes this have to do with expressingfeelings?" To draw connections to art education. or in art educaHe tion as the justificationfor art in the curriculum. that in most ages artistswould not only not have subscribedto the expression theory. Hospers recalled the familiar accounts of the act of expressiongiven by Dewey. As he pursued the expression theory. Ducasse. The Arts writhout Mystery (Boston: Little. Hospers provided reasons that self-expression will no longer serve either in aesthetics as an adequate theory for creatingart. WallaceStevens. they probablywould not have understood it. p. No. 1983). identified the starting descriptionof poetry as the spontaneplace of the theory as Wordsworth's ous overflow of feelings. DBAEmarks a move away from creative self-expression as the raison d'etre for art education. This descriptionwas swept up into the Romantic aesthetic theory as the expression theory of art. 20. ed. we must eventually examine the way art is approachedin the schools to see which view of artisticcreationis reflected there."reprintedin Philosophy Looks at the Arts.3 The question Hosperscontinuallyraisedwas. He suggested. DwaineGreer In his article that was the 1984 PresidentialAddress to the American Society for Aesthetics. John Hospersidentified creativityas among those philosophical problems that become more intractable the longer one thinks about them. Denis Donoghue. Hospers on Artistic Creativity W. and Coilingwood-the notion that artists begin with an initial excitement that gradu- ally achieves coherence as they feel release and feelings become clearand coherent. 183. Hospers was willing to concede the acceptanceof the theory in aesthetics. artists are more likely to describe their making of art in terms of combining properties of their media.

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