Aesthetic Education - Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1970, p. 21

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Aesthetic Education - Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1970, p. 21

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The Aesthetic Dimension of Education in the Abstract Disciplines KENNETH R. CONKL1N There are two senses in which education can be said to have an aesthetic dimension: the processes of teaching, learning, and knowing may have aesthetic aspects as may the subject matter itself. The present article seeks to show that all education has an aesthetic dimension in both senses and that, indeed, the aesthetic dimension is so essential that no education is possible without it. It is fairly obvious that teaching and learning have aesthetic aspects, although the aesthetic aspect of knowing is quite interesting and highly controversial. These topics are discussed in section one. Section two explores the aesthetic aspect of subject matter — especially subject matter composed of abstract concepts. Section three discusses concomitant learnings as aesthetic by-products of content and method. Finally, section four relates these ideas to certain problems in curriculum development, teaching methods, school administration, and teacher education. 1. THE AESTHETICS OF TEACHING, LEARNING, AND KNOWING Regardless of the subject matter involved, teaching is a performance. Teachers, of course, should not be judged according to the standards applied to actors, opera singers, ballet dancers, or artists; yet, it is clear that teachers do convey moods, use their voices, gesture and move about, and make drawings on the blackboard and, therefore, aesthetic criticisms are possible. There may well be disagreement concerning the KENNETH R. CONKLIN received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of education from the University of Illinois, Urbana, and taught at Oakland University in Michigan before accepting a position at Emory University. He has published in several educational journals, including Educational Theory, The Educational Forum, and The Record (Teachers College).