Re-imagining learning through art as experience: An aesthetic approach to education for life

Elizabeth M. Grierson
Vol 38, Number 1, p.22
This paper investigates what it may mean to re-imagine learning through aesthetic experience with reference to John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1934). The discussion asks what learning might look like when aesthetic experience takes centre stage in the learning process. It investigates what Dewey meant by art as experience and aesthetic experience. Working with Dewey as a philosopher of reconstruction of experience, the discussion examines responses to poetic writings and communication in learning situations. In seeking to discover what poetic writing (as art) does within the experience of a reader and writer it considers three specific learning situations. Firstly there is an examination of a five-year old child’s experience of shared communication through the story of Horton the Elephant. Secondly there is an account of the responses of an 11-year-old child to poetry in a 1950s classroom setting, and later reconstructions of those experiences by the child as adult. Thirdly, the paper extends to intensive writing with 12 to 13-year-old children. The focus is on the process of learning via acts of expression as aesthetic experiences. Through art as experience the child develops perceptions that recover a coherence and continuity of aesthetic experience in art as in everyday life.