Aesthetic Experiences and the Miracle of Action : On the Radical Possibility of Art in Teaching and Learning
Abstract: This master essay starts with the author having an encounter with two 14-years old boys who claim that they are Nazis. In a school project where the pupils made films about norms in the society they made a film with a clearly racist and homophobic message. As a freelance artist the author was a part of a school development program in aesthetic learning, and the assignment in the actual school was supposed to teach the pupils about norms and how they effect people on an everyday basis. All the films fulfilled this purpose, but the actual film did something more: it revealed the zerotolerance rule in this particular school as a norm that silenced not only these boys, but also any pupil having a different opinion than the teachers. The situation described took place in a classroom in primary school in the area of Stockholm some years ago and even though the film was never shown to anybody that could be offended except the author herself, the author left the school with a feeling of total failure, and two questions craving for answers: Why couldn’t she, nor the teachers, find the time and space to meet the boys, taking their invitation to discuss the zere-tolerance-norm seriously? And what role did the fact that the school had a “zero-tolerance-for-racism rule” play in the cultivation of the boy’s feelings of exclusion and in the way the teachers treated their obvious need for recognition as sane and (soon-to-be) grown up men? Using Hannah Arendt’s ideas of action as the fundament of the investigation, the author poses questions about what space for action there is in the daily work of a teacher today, but also what happens when there is no room for action, when we become the blind administrators of homo faber. The method of the study includes 1) a dialogue seminar with teachers from elementary school, 2) examples and reflections from the author’s own teaching practice at the teacher education and 3) a philosophical investigation focusing on the concepts of aesthetic experience, aesthetic learning, not-knowing and unlearning. In dialogue with Sarah Ahmed, John Dewey, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Jacques Rancière, Cusanus and Jonna Bornemark, she further tries to understand what role the film, as an aesthetic experience, played in the example with the Nazi boys. Is there a radical possibility in art that can create space for action in Arendt’s sense? Further, in dialogue with the poet Wiszlava Szymborska, the clown Nalla Laanela, and two novelists; Rachel Cusk and Albert Camus, she tries to understand the possibilities that lie within aesthetic learning when it comes to re-thinking the role of the teacher aiming for a sustainable approach to teaching and learning in a society where teachers work themselves sick.
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