Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Aesthetic Dimensions in Romanian Primary School Curriculum

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

Aesthetic Dimensions in Romanian Primary School Curriculum

Article excerpt

1. Aesthetics in elementary education: a briefing of international trends

In a report on aesthetic education in school curricula around the world, Amadio, Truong & Tschurenev (2006) provide a short history of aesthetic education movements from the middle of the nineteenth century in Western countries to the beginning of the twenty-first century and conclude with several reflections on its widespread across school national systems, especially in elementary education. In their view, aesthetic education found its place within school curriculum, but it is certainly better represented in early education than in higher grades and embraces more comprehensive aims than in the past. More exactly, aesthetic literacy or "learning in, about or through the arts" Amadio, Truong & Tschurenev (2006, p. 3) became the major aim for aesthetic education in the school. This rather general and generous aim is translated into definite choices in educational policy and practices, as reflected in several analyses conducted in the place and the role of aesthetic education within national school curricula (e.g., Taggart, Whitby & Sharp, 2004). In their report, Amadio, Truong & Tschurenev (2006) also review several studies which emphasize the role of arts education in general and music education in particular on improving overall academic achievement, enhancing individual learning capacity, and improving emotional and social functioning.

Although a large majority of international studies which announce an emphasis on aesthetic education reduce their investigations in arts education due to different reasons, recent research-based work tend to value more what should be in our view the role of aesthetic education and experience in children's life, and focus on aesthetic elements as reflected in curricular areas rarely connected with arts and aesthetics. Thus, Jakobson & Wilkman (2008) analyzed records of children's talks and children-teachers interactions during sciences lessons in elementary school and showed that aesthetic judgments closely follow moments of anticipation or fulfillment; based on these results they suggest more nuanced connections between aesthetics and learning than discussed in the literature and, moreover, promote aesthetics as part of learning experiences beyond arts. Using a different perspective, Girod Twyman & Wojcikiewicz (2010) developed an experimental intervention based on teaching and learning from transformative, aesthetic experience as defined by Dewey and their results suggest that this type of approach would determine students to perceive differently the world. Going even further, Yang (2013) proposes didactic approaches to promote learning from the aesthetics of nature, which is as much as valuable as aesthetic dimensions of arts. Moon et al. (2013) address the usage of aesthetic experience favored by arts education in developing students' awareness of democratic values such as diversity, freedom or responsibility.

Aesthetic education is infused into school curricula in quite different manners: as disciplines or school-subjects (i.e., arts education, visual cultural studies, music education etc.) or integrated into larger curricular approaches in order to promote interdisciplinary connections. In an international study covering arts education in nineteen countries, Taggart, Whitby & Sharp (2004) concluded that only a half of the analyzed national curricula include integrated curricular structures addressing this educational dimensions, while the rest favored distinct subject-matters with music education occupying large parts of instructional time and efforts devoted to aesthetic and arts education. This manner of ensuring aesthetic education is often criticized, as the scope and indepth meaning of aesthetic education goes beyond the boundaries of arts education, regardless the number of school subjects dedicated to the field. As suggested before in the present contribution, aesthetic experiences are significant parts of children's life, as they have the tendency to express high motivation and attachment in artistic forms. …

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