AESTHETIC EDUCATION FOR CHILDREN: PUBLIC/IN-BETWEEN SPACE, HAPPINESS AND IDENTITY

Open Access
Author:
Lee, Min Jung
Graduate Program:
Art Education
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
April 25, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Christine M Thompson, Dissertation Advisor
  • Christine M Thompson, Committee Chair
  • Yvonne Madelaine Gaudelius, Committee Member
  • Charles Richard Garoian, Committee Member
  • Jacqueline J A Reid Walsh, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • Aesthetic Education
  • Public/In-between Space
  • Happiness
  • Identity
  • Consciousness
  • Sensory Perception
  • Hermeneutic Phenomenology
Abstract:
The purpose of this study is to investigate the essential structure and nature of aesthetic education as a public/in-between space for children to accomplish happiness and reveal their identity. The term aesthetic refers to the ways in which we perceive the world through sensory perception as well as the ways in which we attend fully to the particulars of our experiences. Aesthetic education, then, enables students to perceive the world through their sensory perception and to be fully conscious of the world in which they are immersed. The public/in-between space created by aesthetic education allow people to express their own voices, negotiate with others by interacting with them in intersubjective relationships, become conscious, think more deeply, and develop critical perspectives. As political beings who perform certain actions and speak in certain ways, we human beings need a space where we can reveal ourselves and interact with others. By doing so, human beings can recognize who they are in their relationships with others and achieve happiness in terms of political meaning. Happiness relates to political human characteristics in the public space—namely, how we humans can live with others who are different (e.g., with different opinions and perspectives) harmoniously in a community through speech and action. Thus aesthetic education can be achieved in the public/in-between space, where others’ uniqueness and differences are revealed through interactions involving speech and action. This study investigated how students interact with teachers and other students in aesthetic education in both the public/in-between space. A hermeneutic phenomenological case study was conducted in Ms. Valenza’s art class of the Kingsley Montessori School, Boston, where aesthetic education occurs in the classroom. Data gathered from observations and interviews with students and the teacher was analyzed (Chapter 4). The context of the class overall was based on the observations; interviews with students and the teacher were analyzed according to significant statements, formulated meanings, and cluster themes. After establishing cluster themes from the formulated meanings, a description of cluster themes was presented. Based on this analysis, the findings and discussion were provided (Chapter 5). I discussed the themes more deeply in light of the literature review, my prior experiences, and research that expands the horizon of and provides insights into aesthetic education. Aesthetic education as public/in-between space provides a way to enable multiple people to live in harmony within the community by speaking and acting as political beings and without sacrificing their differences. This study reveals important aspects of aesthetic education by investigating how students interact with teachers and with other students in aesthetic education in both the public/in-between space. By doing so, this study emphasizes the value of aesthetic education for children in art education as a means to help students make their lives meaningful by living as subjects who think critically in a democratic society and visual culture.