The Arts and Critical Thinking in American Education

By Ivan Olson; Ralph A. Smith | Go to book overview

Appendix
A Taxonomy for the Aesthetic Transaction

Does the field of Aesthetics need a taxonomy? The answer might depend on the background of the individual being addressed. I remind the reader that the term "taxonomy" traditionally refers to a science or scientific technique for classification, such as we find in the fields of botany, zoology, and agronomy. Benjamin Bloom and colleagues ( 1954 and 1964) presented their benchmark project in an attempt to provide for classification of the goals of our educational systems. Both the cognitive and affective taxonomies have become well ensconced in the study of education, particularly in any reference to I learning and teaching processes within teacher training programs.

This aesthetic taxonomy has much the ame characteristics as those already described. However, it does not relate directly to objectives; it relates purely and pointedly toward identification, naming, and classification of processes and phenomena. I think of this not as the "final word," but rather as a "dynamic start" which could serve as a model, and possibly stimulate further research and study in the area of experimental aesthetics. It represents a dynamic schema, as it is generative and allows for possible change or expansion.

The taxonomy consists of four stages: associative, abstractional, conservational, and absorptive. The stages move in a hierarchical fashion, with three columns representing the initial perception processes advancing or evolving to the state of awareness, the left column representing the sequence of accentuation, the right column representing cognitive attention, and the middle column interactive between the other two in a process that moves from initial perceptual and conceptual actions and becomes the heart of the taxonomy's schema. The third and fourth stages, conservational and absorptive, lead to more metacognitive conditions.

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