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Learning in and learning through art. Mike Fleming 20/04/10. Commissioned chapter for Routledge: International Handbook of Creative Learning cf ‘Creativity, Culture and Education’. AIMS. To explore the broad conceptual distinction between learning in and learning through the arts

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Presentation Transcript
slide2

Commissioned chapter for Routledge: International Handbook of Creative Learning

  • cf ‘Creativity, Culture and Education’
slide3
AIMS
  • To explore the broad conceptual distinction between learning in and learningthrough the arts
  • To provide perspectives on the teaching of the arts as well as tools for evaluating practice
slide4

Not empirical research but theoretical paper seeking conceptual clarification

  • ‘Research Into Practice’
at its simplest
At its simplest
  • Learning in : learning within the discipline, learning that pertains to the particular art form
  • Learning through: looks beyond the art form itself to outcomes that are extrinsic
slide6

Learning in within the specialist art subjects

  • Learning through when arts employed across the curriculum to further creative learning
  • Distinction is more far-reaching
  • Embodies fundamental differences based on theoretical perspectives and historical traditions
slide7

Categories not straightforward and easily distinguished – there is overlap

  • Need to explore the complexity of the categories
  • Do these theoretical constructs have a useful purpose?
learning in
Learning In
  • Intrinsic rather than extrinsic benefits
  • Associated with traditionalist aesthetics, 18th century conception that sought to disassociate art from utilitarian purposes
  • Strongest expression in the 19th century with art for art’s sake movement
  • Has also informed more contemporary writing on the place of the arts in education
aesthetic
‘Aesthetic’
  • Term ‘aesthetic’ a ‘recent arrival in the history of human thought’
  • Coined by Baumgarten in the mid-eighteenth century and refined through the theorising of Kant
  • Key element relevant to learning in - focus on the disinterested appreciation of form as defining criterion for responding to art
lyas example on disinterested
Lyas example on ‘disinterested’
  • Person comes out from a play smiling because
    • he or she invested in it
    • another because daughter wrote it
    • another because seen there by boss
  • One who comes out smiling because she simply enjoyed the play represents a more disinterested approach
bell more extreme formulation of intrinsic view
Bell: more extreme formulation of ‘intrinsic view’

‘…to appreciate a work of art we need bring with us nothing from life, no knowledge of its ideas and affairs, no familiarity with its emotions. Art transports us from the world of man’s activity to a world of aesthetic exaltation. For a moment we are shut off from human interests; our anticipations and memories are arrested; we are lifted above the stream of life.’

slide13

Applied to literature – teaching focuses on formal features such as rhyme, rhythm and structure more than thematic content or moral message

  • Reflects the type of new criticism associated with Leavis
learning in1
Learning In
  • Learning in with its association with traditional aesthetics more at home with separatist concept- high art or fine art
  • Part of search for clear definition of art – formalism
learning in2
Learning In
  • Intrinsic or separatist view still dominant?
  • Explains particular attitude to art still widespread
learning in3
Learning in

Dewey in Arts and Experience (1934) referred to the ‘museum conception of art’ or ‘compartmental conception of fine art’ that sets art on a remote pedestal.

summary
Summary
  • Learning in eschews functional and utilitarian purposes in favour of a celebration of the intrinsic rewards of engaging with arts
  • Theoretical origins are derived from a search for definitions and universals that belonged to a more mono-cultural and less pluralist outlook on the world
  • Can lead to elitism and separatism
in contrast
In Contrast

Learning through approach

  • more contemporary
  • more inclined to consider the implications for education of the wider socio-cultural context
  • the concept of ‘art’ can easily transmute into the broader notion of ‘culture’
learning through
Learning through
  • Learning through not confined to specific use of the arts to enrich learning experiences in other subjects
  • e.g. drama may be employed to develop understanding of history or to further personal development
  • In both cases more emphasis tends to be placed on experience of the learner rather more than the art product itself.
learning through1
Learning through
  • Can be identified with either child-centred, progressive approaches

OR

  • more contemporary manifestation-use of arts to promote creative learning across the curriculum.
slide21

If the learning in approach is in danger of promoting a separatist, elitist, a-cultural and a-historical view of the arts, it can be argued that learning through represents a more inclusive, democratic and contemporary approach more suited to recognising the place of arts in education.

slide22

art for art’s sake

  • separatist
  • traditional
  • essentialist
  • social and cultural context neglected
  • elitist
  • inclusive
  • embedded
  • purposeful
  • transformational
slide23

art for arts’ sake

  • separatist
  • traditional
  • essentialist
  • social and cultural context neglected
  • elitist
  • loss of identity
  • mechanical
  • instrumental
  • reductive
  • importance of form
  • preservation of quality
  • artistic integrity
  • skills
  • deep concept of entertainment
  • inclusive
  • embedded
  • purposeful
  • transformational
more subtle interpretation of the intrinsic view
More subtle interpretation of the intrinsic view
  • Engagement with art paradoxically stepping out of life’s mainstream in order to engage with life more productively
  • Kantian notion of disinterestedness described as a ‘radical political concept’
eagleton
Eagleton

“‘Disinterestedness’ does not mean being magically absolved from interests, but recognising that some of your interests are doing you no good, or that it is in the interest of doing an effective job to set certain of them apart for the moment. It demands imagination, sympathy and self-discipline. You do not need to rise majestically above the fray to decide that in a specific situation, somebody else’s interests should be promoted over yours.”

value of arts
Value of arts
  • Often contrasted with ‘mere’ entertainment
  • However we may miss something important...
how are these insights helpful to arts in education practice
How are these insights helpful to arts in education practice?
  • dangers of losing sight of the importance of form and quality
  • ‘creativity’ or the phrase ‘creative learning’ can easily become a blanket term that is spread unthinkingly over any form of practice to legitimise it
  • importance of a concept of quality established through dialogue and shared judgement
having one s cake and eating it
‘Having one’s cake and eating it?’

What the concepts of learning in and learning through offer is a valuable reminder of the need for balance when employing the arts to support creative learning and a tool for making judgements in this context.