In such diverse fields as pragmatism, poststructuralism, and socioculturalism, and in the writing of scholars as divergent as John Dewey and Michel Foucualt, the notion of aesthetics principles applied to education have been explored. Aesthetics, generally defined is the process of sensory perception or the appreciation of beauty, form and function. Given that education is (if nothing else) a process of sensory perception and application, it seems reasonable to assume that principles governing aesthetics could be used within classrooms for varying purposes.

This is a new discussion forum that seeks to address the question of how aesthetics (infographics, images, graphics, design, art, for example) contribute to educational processes, within classrooms specifically and pedagogy more generally.

Cherryholmes writes, "Aesthetic values are unstable because they are dispersed and deferred. We continually interpret and criticize them. In education, control is desired sometimes, understanding sometimes, and emancipation from oppressive social relations at yet other times. But, disaster is courted if one fixates upon a single and rigidly defined set of consequences and aesthetic values. The world surely changes whether our visions of beauty change or not. Pragmatist researchers, administrators and teachers are artists and critics as they craft and subsequently criticize outcomes. Indeed pragmatism is a term of art where artistic conceptions and experiments remain moving targets. If one is interested in consequences, how could it be otherwise? (1999, p. 32)." 

As a way to generate some dialogue, I am beginning this thread with a question, in hopes that others contribute and we can begin to theorize and understand how these visual modalities can effect classroom learning. 

Question: can art or design (aesthetics) factor into education? If so, how? 

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Cherryholmes, C.H. (1999). Reading Pragmatism. (pp. 10-83). New York: teachers     College Press. 

Tags: Dewey, Foucault, aesthetics, art, design, education, pedagogy, perception, philosophy, visual modalities

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In a highly regarded RSA speech in 2008, popularized by a 2010 animated Internet meme, Sir Ken Robinson proposed a vision of the changing paradigms within education in the 21st century. In it, he spoke at length about problematic issues pervasive in the field; in one particularly lucid moment he observes an insidious dichotomy at work. He proposes that there exists a polar divide between education as an aesthetic experience and as an anesthetic experience. “An aesthetic experience is when you senses are operating at their peak. When you are present in the current moment. And anesthetic (experience) is where you shut your senses off, and deaden yourself to what is happening…We are getting our children through education by anesthetizing them” (2008).

We should not be putting our studetns to sleep. We should be waking them up!

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