Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Beauty, Seen Clearly, Has The Answer To Racism

Come hear famous songs, ballads, Broadway hits, and more on Sunday, February 12 at 2:30pm. This is a gala cultural and ethical event! The Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company is presenting a repeat performance by popular demand of THE GREAT FIGHT OF EGO vs. TRUTH - Songs about Love, Justice, & Everybody's Feelings!


*UPDATE: BECAUSE OF LAST WEEKEND'S BLIZZARD THIS MATINEE WILL TAKE PLACE ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19 AT 2:30 PM*

We (I'm proud to be one of the singers taking part) will show how every good song has in its technique the ethics that every person and every nation needs --the oneness of opposites such as freedom and justice, sameness and difference, pride and humility. And this is literally the answer to every injustice of man, from racism to homelessness. See for yourself: 2:30 pm, Sunday February 12, 141 Greene Street in SoHo, New York. I recommend that you call for reservations ahead of time -- 212 777 4490.

To read the flyer, click on the link above.
More about Aesthetic Realism:
Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. I have seen and marveled at her unfailing desire to understand every person and every situation. FOr instance, look at the class in which she discussed a newspaper article about what is known as ADHD
(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She said, "The question is whether this trouble of a child—trouble keeping his attention on a thing, which may be joined by a desire to race around—comes from a way of seeing the whole world. Is there a fight about the world in this child? Whether you're seventy-nine or a boy of four, you have an attitude to the whole world." There was such respect for the mind of a child, as Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips describe in their account of the class. Read more here.
Ellen Reiss has also been commenting on, through the principles of Aesthetic Realism, the upsurge of racism in these years. To see more about this, read the article by Alice Bernstein. Also, in Racism Can End Ellen Reiss writes about about how a way of seeing the world affects a person's way of seeing someone whose culture or ethnic background is different from one's own. What could be more important for people to understand in today's world?
Some of my favourite links are the following: Read Ellen Reiss's critical observations about the poetry of Robert Burns (one of my favourite poets). She shows how relevant what Burns was writing about 200 years ago is to what is going on today. His poetry has the terrifically just way of seeing people that is needed by government leaders and every one of us.
Aesthetic Realism explains that in order to really respect any person, whether someone of another culture or your own husband or wife, is to see that person as representing nothing less than the world itself. How can we see a person that way? Look at Eli Siegel's Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Ask yourself, does this person have opposites? Do they have every one of these fifteen pairs? (And more besides?) Is he/she trying to make sense of how they have these opposites?
Injustice can be based on race, but it can also be based simply on seeing another person's way of meeting the world as different from one's own, and therefore less valuable. And about this, a person can be monumentally wrong. A classic instance of this in literary history is taken up by Ellen Reiss in relation to the great poet John Keats. She also shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.
One of my favourite links is to columnist and civil rights advocate Alice Bernstein. Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis. To see what Aesthetic Realism is--and what it is not--see the website devoted to accuracy, honesty, justice--the plain truth!: Countering the Lies.

The Aesthetic Realism Online Library has poems, lectures, reviews, essays, and selections from other major works by Eli Siegel. There are also articles in the press and media about the founder of Aesthetic Realism.
Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology is the website of celebrated cultural anthropologist and novelist Arnold Perey, PhD.
At Aesthetic Realism Resources there are articles on many subjects that concern people today such as love, self-expression, current events, economics, the arts, racism and much, much more.
The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is the international periodical read by everyone who wants to understand what is going on in America today. Edited by Ellen Reiss, The Right Of serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and shows how they comment on current events such as the unprecedented growth of personal debt as well as our own questions and hopes as individuals.
See photographs with moving commentary and technical insight at Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel
Important writings on economics, history, the questions of women, art, literature and more can be seen at Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life
The website of Aesthetic Realism Consultant Miriam Mondlin is here: Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-Expression
For teachers especially, we suggest you get to know the work of noted educators Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison. They are two of the finest teachers we've ever known.
To find out what is true about the kind, intellectually-rigorous philosophy that is Aesthetic Realism go to this website which sets the record straight and has, for the public record, the assessment of dozens of noted critics, poets, cultural icons, social scientists, civil rights leaders, artists, teachers, and more, and more: Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies
Find our more about Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism.
See the website of myself and Ann Richards: Aesthetic Realism & Our Lives

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Here is a letter I wrote which was published yesterday -- Veterans Day -- in the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, New York:


Combating racism

"I applaud the community of Kingston for resisting attempts to stir up racism there ("Fanning the flames," Oct. 29). As a high school teacher myself, I want parents, teachers, superintendents, community leaders and anyone involved with young people to know that the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method combats racism, encouraging students to respect each other as well as people they've never met, and this happens as they learn the facts about science, English, mathematics and social studies. Eli Siegel, founder of Aesthetic Realism, explained that racism doesn't begin with how we see another person; it begins with how we see the world itself. A young person (or an older person) who sees the world as an enemy is not likely to be kindly disposed to a person who looks different and represents that world. That is why it is crucial for teachers to do all we can to present the world, through each subject, as truly likable, showing them that there is indeed sense, order, beauty, in reality."

Christopher Balchin
Co-author, "Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism"
Yankee Lake


More about Aesthetic Realism:
Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. I have seen and marveled at her unfailing desire to understand every person and every situation. For instance, look at the class in which she discussed a newspaper article about what is known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She said, "The question is whether this trouble of a child—trouble keeping his attention on a thing, which may be joined by a desire to race around—comes from a way of seeing the whole world. Is there a fight about the world in this child? Whether you're seventy-nine or a boy of four, you have an attitude to the whole world." There was such respect for the mind of a child, as Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips describe in their account of the class. Read more here.

Ellen Reiss has also been commenting, using the principles of Aesthetic Realism, on the upsurge of racism in these years. To see more about this, read the article by Alice Bernstein. Also, in Racism Can End Ellen Reiss writes about about how a way of seeing the world affects a person's way of seeing someone whose culture or ethnic background is different from one's own. What could be more important for people to understand in today's world?

Some of my favourite links are the following:
Read Ellen Reiss's critical observations about the poetry of Robert Burns (one of my favourite poets). She shows how relevant what Burns was writing about 200 years ago is to what is going on today. His poetry has the terrifically just way of seeing people that is needed by government leaders and every one of us.
Aesthetic Realism explains that in order to really respect any person, whether someone of another culture or your own husband or wife, is to see that person as representing nothing less than the world itself. How can we see a person that way? Look at Eli Siegel's Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Ask yourself, does this person have opposites? Do they have every one of these fifteen pairs? (And more besides?) Is he/she trying to make sense of how they have these opposites?

Injustice can be based on race, but it can also be based simply on seeing another person's way of meeting the world as different from one's own, and therefore less valuable. And about this, a person can be monumentally wrong. A classic instance of this in literary history is taken up by Ellen Reiss in relation to the great poet John Keats. She also shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.

One of my favourite links is to columnist and civil rights advocate Alice Bernstein. (See her article above) Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis. To see what Aesthetic Realism is--and what it is not--see the website devoted to accuracy, honesty, justice--the plain truth!: Countering the Lies.

The Aesthetic Realism Online Library has poems, lectures, reviews, essays, and selections from other major works by Eli Siegel. There are also articles in the press and media about the founder of Aesthetic Realism.

Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology is the website of celebrated cultural anthropologist and novelist Arnold Perey, PhD.

At Aesthetic Realism Resources there are articles on many subjects that concern people today such as love, self-expression, current events, economics, the arts, racism and much, much more.

The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is the international periodical read by everyone who wants to understand what is going on in America today. Edited by Ellen Reiss, The Right Of serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and shows how they comment on current events such as the unprecedented growth of personal debt as well as our own questions and hopes as individuals.

See photographs with moving commentary and technical insight at Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel

Important writings on economics, history, the questions of women, art, literature and more can be seen at Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life.

The website of Aesthetic Realism Consultant Miriam Mondlin is here: Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-ExpressionFor teachers especially, we suggest you get to know the work of noted educators Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison. They are two of the finest teachers we've ever known.

To find out what is true about the kind, intellectually-rigorous philosophy that is Aesthetic Realism go to this website which sets the record straight and has, for the public record, the assessment of dozens of noted critics, poets, cultural icons, social scientists, civil rights leaders, artists, teachers, and more, and more: Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies

Find out more about Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism.

Click here to see other important links

See the website of myself and Ann Richards: Aesthetic Realism & Our Lives

Thursday, September 22, 2005

An Invitation to have the time of your life

This musical event will be a thrilling, educational time that will include criticism--through comments and song-- of the contempt that is at the root of both the racism and economic injustice that is hurting life all over the world:

The Great Fight of Ego vs. Truth-- Songs About Love, Justice, & Everybody's Feelings!
Don't miss it!

Learning to Respect

This letter has just been published in the UK.
Learning to Respect
The brutal, horrific bombings in London caused the killing and injuring of so many innocent people.
Now there is increased fear in people all over England, and even in New York City, where I now live and work
I know I have felt it. Adding to the pain of this awful situation is the increase in prejudice towards and even attacks against people who look Middle Eastern or South-East Asian.
As Britain is in turmoil, and police and government leaders question what security measure to take and community leaders discuss how to bring together those of different backgrounds, it is crucial to know what the real enemy is. Yes, clearly it is people who would perpetrate such heinous acts, as those of July 7, and those who incite and fund them. But a question is, what could drive someone to do such a thing?
The philosopher Eli Siegel, founder of the education Aesthetic Realism, got to grips with evil where it begins in the thoughts of every person when he wrote: "As soon as you have contempt, as soon as you don't want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person." (www.aestheticrealism.org)
My contempt had me look down on people whose skin colour was different from mine. I regret this very much, and I am thankful that through studying Aesthetic Realism I'm seeing what true kindness is and where I didn't have it.
Every person, I have learned, is in a constant debate about whether to have respect for the world or contempt, the building up of oneself through the lessening of the world. Contempt must be defeated, Siegel said, if people are to be kind. Any person who could plan or carry out a bombing attack leading to the death and maiming of others has to see them as two-dimensional, without real feelings like his own. But this callousness doesn't appear suddenly; it goes on quietly in a person's inner thoughts. A Londoner can think a person from Somerset is not too bright just because of his or her accent. A Northerner can see a Southerner as a snob as soon as he opens his mouth. Someone attending Oxford, as I did, can look down on anyone who isn't. This ugly way of seeing, in an ordinary citizen or a prime minister, can lead to the worst horrors in history and today if it is not opposed.
What is urgently needed, in order to provide real security, is the study by everyone, from schoolchildren all the way up to government leaders, of what it means to see that another person has thoughts and depths as real, as deep as your own. This is the greatest countering of cruelty that can be.
Aesthetic Realism provides a practical, effective method for beginning to do this: "Write a 500-word soliloquy of that person; write as that person might speak to himself; try to describe his thoughts, hopes, fears." The Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, Ellen Reiss, suggested this be done by those on opposite sides of a conflict, such as Israelis and Palestinians.
In the predominantly Hispanic school I taught in several years ago, the Asian pupils were being forced to run a gauntlet of kicks and punches on their way into school after lunch. After I had the older pupils -- the ones I taught at that time -- write 500 words, imagining they were recent immigrants like the Asian students, the bullying stopped immediately.
Having written such soliloquies myself I know firsthand that it always makes you kinder. You see another person has depths, feelings that without fully knowing it, you had robbed them of.
I am sure that if community and government leaders arranged for these to be written -- and wrote soliloquies themselves -- there would be an immediate, widespread, increase in real understanding and kindness. Even if the most hardened, bitter persons did not change, the overwhelming majority of people would simply care more about other members of the public, whatever their background, colour, race, or religion --and this would be the greatest help of all to security.
* * * * *
Recommended Links:

Monday, August 22, 2005

Letter to the Asian News

Published in the UK


Aesthetic Realism Way Forward

It was shocking to read about the racist attack on Mohammed Hussain in his Peel Lane convenience store (Asian News, May 31).Recently a young man of Sri Lankan origin died from the injuries he had suffered in a racist attack by two young white men in my home town, Ashford, Kent.

As a white person myself, I deplore these acts, as well as the daily racist attitudes and comments that people have to endure.

It is urgent for everyone to know what Eli Siegel, founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, explained. He saw that there is a constant debate in the mind of every person between the desire to have respect for the world, see meaning in it--and the desire for contempt.“As soon as you have contempt, he wrote, “as soon as you don’t want to see another person as having the fullness that you have, you can rob that person, hurt that person, kill that person.”

No matter how considerate we judge ourselves, if we don’t see another person as having the depth of feeling, the reality we have, we are unkind and worse. Racist attitudes, let alone attacks, simply would not occur if people saw each other as having the same depth of feeling as themselves.

I know this from my own life. Growing up, I hated cruelty when I saw it, but I didn't see that the way I robbed other people of meaning made me cruel myself. When a young man from the Indian subcontinent started at the 99 per cent-white school I attended, I made fun of him and didn’t see him as having feelings like my own.

In the international journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, Class Chairman Ellen Reiss said: “What needs to replace (racism) is not the feeling that the difference of another person is somehow tolerable. What is necessary is the seeing and feeling that the relation of sameness and difference between ourselves and that other person is beautiful."

I know if I changed, anyone can!

Christopher Balchin, Grand Street , New York,

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

I have just seen that Lois Mason, Aesthetic Realism consultant and history teacher and one of the teachers of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method workshop, has a website. Her success as a New York City teacher is phenomenal. I have learned so much from her. I am so glad that educators all over the world can now see for themselves what she shows -- how relevant history and geography really are to young people (and not-so-young people!) Here is the link to "Lois Mason, Aesthetic Realism Consultant and Social Studies Teacher".

Scroll down for news about the May 12 education seminar, "The Answer to the Fury and Failure in America's Schools: The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method."

Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company

The Aesthetic Realism Theatre Company presents lectures by Eli Siegel on works by Shakespeare, Moliere, Ibsen, Strindberg and others that include dramatic excerpts from the plays, acted with a depth and subtlety that is rare. Every time I'm fortunate enough to be in the audience I come away feeling satisfied and stirred and ALWAYS with a new sense of respect for people of all races.

The next production (Sunday, April 10) is a comedy, Sheridan's "School for Scandal." It is remarkable both in the understanding of the playwrite, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and also because it is uproarious and moving. With its polished and rapier-like 18th-century style, it explains something that is affecting people all over America right now -- the way politicians and the ordinary man or woman in the street can be so careless with truth, and have such a THIRST for gossip. Here is the flyer to

As you can see if you followed the link, Sheridan will be accompanied by Handel, in Barbara Allen and Edward Green's "What Can Chamber Music Tell Us About Social Life?-- Handel's Flute Sonata in G Major" If you have ever wondered why music can bring tears to your eyes, come on Sunday and find out the answer!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method seminar

The next education seminar at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation will take place on Thursday evening, May 12 at 6:30 pm. I strongly recommend it for every teacher, parent, and anyone who works with young people or cares about what happens to them. Here's the announcement:
The Answer to the Fury & Failure in America's Schools -- The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method !

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method Ends Prejudice!

This is a paper I was honoured to give at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation in New York City in an education seminar, which I've also spoken about at the New York Technical School and at the National Union of Teachers in London, (England). There are so many problems in schools, here in the US, in the UK, and elsewhere involving racism, bullying and this teaching method can really change them.
I have changed the names of the students since this is a public posting.
--Christopher Balchin


THE AESTHETIC REALISM TEACHING METHOD ENDS PREJUDICE

It is a shameful and totally unnecessary fact that prejudice is rampant in America today including, tragically, in schools, the very places where it could and should be understood and ended.

The students at the middle school in Brooklyn where I taught science several years ago, most of whom are Hispanic and African-American, are seen with prejudice as they walk the streets and ride the subway. Our unjust economy hurts their lives immeasurably. What these young boys and girls and their parents meet is described by Ellen Reiss, the Class Chairman of Aesthetic Realism, in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known #1187:

As millions of people are jobless, or working long hours and getting paid much too little, as they worry about being able to feed their families and pay their rent, there is within people a terrific anger. That is why prejudice in America is, in many ways, more intense and overt than once: having contempt for someone different from you; feeling you're Somebody because you're better than someone else; has a person feel he has gotten swift sureness and put in its place a world he can't make sense of and sees as an enemy.

This describes what I have seen increasingly—students are angrier than ever, more likely to flare up suddenly, and there is more racism. Cuts in funding for education combined with ill will on the part of school administrators means that even basic supplies such as paper, pencils, and photocopies are not available, and students who desperately need reading and maths are left without subject teachers for four months. Some teachers make fun of students and lump together students who they see as "troublemakers" in a way that is prejudiced. Students are justifiably angry at the way they are seen and treated—yet, unfortunately, too often they use the injustices they meet to have wholesale contempt for everything, including each other and learning itself.

Yet, I am so proud to say: I have seen the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method change prejudice in students, just as Aesthetic Realism has criticised and changed prejudice in teachers, including me. Not long ago there was an ugly "game" of bullying of students from Guyana, who are in the minority, by other students. The Guyanese were seen as different, and they were forced to run a gauntlet of kicks and punches every day on the way in from the playground after lunch. It was contempt, which seemed to give the bullies that "swift sureness" in a world they couldn't make sense of and saw as an enemy.

I was furious, and I wanted to it to end. I told all my students about a time I beat up Jonathan Scott, who, coming from a poor neighbourhood, was seen as different by my friends and me. Right after the fight I was so ashamed, I locked myself in the bathroom and cried. I told my students what I had learned from Aesthetic Realism about the cause of meanness in myself—it was contempt—and that I learned that if we see another person as having feelings as real as our own, we cannot be cruel. I told them about an Aesthetic Realism assignment I had done and asked them to do it: Write a monologue about what a person recently arrived from another country feels. They did it, and they became kinder to each other. The bullying stopped.

I. Symbiosis Shows the World Makes Sense
I am grateful to use as my basis for teaching science this principle by Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism: "The world, art, and self explain each other; each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." And I have seen the same opposites that fight in prejudice--sameness and difference—are one in the structure of reality itself, and every lesson can show this.

Our first unit was on Ecology. As we began the year, I saw prejudice in my students in the form of mocking each other’s skin tone, suspicious looks, and making fun of new ideas. I knew it would be good for them, because of the way they were against each other and the world, to learn through the Aesthetic Realism Method about symbiosis. It is defined in Webster's New World Dictionary as "the intimate living together of two kinds of organisms, especially where such association is of mutual advantage." In symbiosis the organisms are often strikingly different, but they actually help each other.

We looked at instances of symbiosis. Reading a page from the book Animal Behaviour, edited by Patricia Daniels and Karin Kinney, (and I wish you could see the wonderful illustrations in the book!) we learned about the relation between two very different beings:

Certain types of ants and aphids enjoy a relationship known as symbiosis, in which different species help each other to survive. Aphids—tiny, slow-moving insects that live on plants—feed on nectar, which they suck out of plant stems with their long, pointed mouths…(and) it is turned into a sugary substance called honeydew…Honeydew is a favourite food of dairying ants.

We learned that the ant, which likes this liquid, cannot obtain it by itself. But nature has so made these two beings, that when the any strokes the aphid's abdomen it gives off honeydew, which the ant “then drinks from the aphid’s cornicle.” Our text continued: “Ants will also attack any insect (like the ladybird) that tries to eat the aphids, even if the invader is much larger than they are…Scientists are not sure when or how this remarkable relationship began, but the discovery of fossilised ants and aphids together shows that the two types of insects have been helping each other for at least 30 million years.”

"How do both creatures benefit?" I asked the class. "The ants get honey, which they need," said Luis Betances. "And the ants drive off the ladybirds, so they protect the aphids!" said Jorge Osorio. I asked the class, "What would happen if an ant looked at an aphid and thought, in the way that a person who is prejudiced can think, "You look different--who needs you?" "It would starve," said Charles Miranda. But Juan Santiago, a young man who can use his keenness to mock, commented scornfully "No it wouldn't! It has plenty of other things to eat!" I asked a question I was once asked in an Aesthetic Realism consultation: "What's going to make us stronger--to use your mind to look down on things, to feel superior; or to know the world?"

Everyone saw that the ants and aphids are different but they add to and need each other. And I asked: Does this show that what is different from us can add to us, make us more who we are?” There was excitement in the class as they wanted to give examples of how needing the world made them more themselves, such as needing the sun, oxygen, friends, food, music, and more.

II. Symbiosis Seen Newly
The question can be asked: why all these years has the study of symbiosis not made students less prejudiced? The reason is that without the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method people haven’t seen: 1) that symbiosis is about the tremendous opposites of Sameness and Difference which are tormenting people on the streets of New York, and 2) it shows that these opposites don’t have to fight; you don’t have to be against what is different from you, because in reality, sameness and difference are thrillingly friendly.

I asked the class if they knew what a hermit crab was, and several did. It is a crab that finds an abandoned shell of suitable size to live in. "Why do you think it has this sea-anemone that looks like a hat on its shell?" I asked the class. They thought it was probably for protection-- maybe for camouflage, or maybe the sea anemone would get eaten instead of the hermit crab if an enemy attacked them. The class learned that the truth is even more amazing. The crab lives in a shell for protection, which is good enough to thwart some predators. However, the fearsome octopus has jaws that are strong enough to crush the crab, shell and all. So what this ingenious crab does is to take a living sea-anemone and place it on its shell, because the sea-anemone with all its luscious beauty has stinging tentacles that will repel the octopus. "How does it know to do that?" asked Rachel Torres, amazed.

We learned that the sea anemone gets something out of this relationship, too. It has more mobility, is able to travel about the waters with the crab and have access to foods it otherwise could not obtain. The whole class had a sense of wonder, and I am so grateful that through this lesson the students had more respect for living things, including each other, and for the force in reality towards kindness. Through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method they saw mind working, real intelligence, in other living things and liked it. Symbiosis is a relation of sameness and difference that shows the world itself has a beautiful structure. Here is reality itself giving the lie to the contempt in a person which exploits weaknesses and differences for superiority and says instead: I need something you have and you need something I have and we are stronger and happier together!

One student asked "What happens when the crab needs a bigger shell?" The class was moved to hear this answer:

When a hermit crab outgrows its shell, it moves to a new one. If it has anemones on its shell, the crab also takes them along. A person trying to pry an anemone off a hermit crab's shell would have a tough time. Sea anemones hold on to their supports with powerful suction disks at their bases. Any attempt to move a sea anemone by force causes the anemone to contract into a tight mound that cannot be moved. But when the crab tries, it gently massages the anemone with its claws until the anemone relaxes, grows limp, and loosens its grip. Then the crab plucks the anemone off its shell and carries it in its claws to their new home...The crab is not harmed by the poison in the anemone's tentacles...If the anemone was put on upside down, it rights itself, moves to a good position, and then sticks firmly in place.

Doesn't this show a beautiful and surprising fittingness between different things in reality?

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method is at once the most tender, loving, and the most powerful means of changing schools, including as to prejudice, because Eli Siegel understood the human self and the structure of the world.

I want every teacher to hear the questions asked in an Aesthetic Realism education workshop taught by consultants All For Education, questions I have learned from: “Am I prejudiced? If so, what about? What am I giving false value to? Where am I making more or less of something to serve myself?”

As the days and weeks went by, I saw big changes in my students. There was less meanness and more kindness, much less anger and much more of a desire to know. Manuel Rivera, a boy with a sweet face, used to fly off the handle at the slightest provocation. He hardly spoke except to mutter under his breath to people around him, whom he seemed to see as enemies. He would come late to class, and got into a fight every day. He started to come on time, became so much happier and he made friends in his class. They played football in the playground, shared their pens and helped each other study for tests. Manuel no longer had the world summed up as an enemy, and he gave it another chance.

Eli Siegel and Aesthetic Realism have educated me in what it means to like the world, and I am so happy for the effect this is having on my students and myself, and for the understanding that can and will make prejudice a thing of the past.


Here are some important resources about the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, the understanding--and fighting--of prejudice, about Aesthetic Realism consultations, how Aesthetic Realism sees beauty, and more:

Devorah Tarrow & Jeffrey Carduner, Aesthetic Realism Consultants


Good Will, the Only Solution, by Rose Levy

Bennett Cooperman & Meryl Nietsch-Cooperman

Aesthetic Realism Is Education -- links

music & our lives -- blog of Michael Palmer, Aesthetic Realism Associate and writer

Teaching The Miracle Worker by Ann Richards

The Criterion for Confidence, a seminar paper by Dr. Jaime Torres that explains the subject of confidence--and how to have it!

Article on using the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method to teach students in special education. Published in La Vida News, The Black Voice, by Jeffrey Williams. Includes thrilling discussion of the ethics and aesthetics of softball and baseball.

It is in Contempt that the Roots of Racism Lie--an article by Captain Allan Michael published in the Miami Times

Read what about what happens in Aesthetic Realism classes, from people who actually attend them and know firsthand--rather than falsehoods by someone who pretends to know.

See reviews of books by Eli Siegel.

Here are some other websites I strongly recommend:

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

Since 1982 I have been a teacher in New York City, one of the most ethnically-diverse places on earth. In the past twenty-three years I've seen first-hand that the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method brings out greater kindness between young people, elicits their desire to be fair to each other, including those of different ethnic backgrounds, rather than mean--and this happens through study of the subject itself.
That is what happens, I'm grateful to say, in the classes I teach, one of which I'll describe soon. First, I'm including some links about this teaching method, including articles about it in the news.

Links:
The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method: Students Learn, Prejudice Is Defeated!, by elementary school teacher Lori Colavito

Prejudice Changes to Respect: The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, by junior high school teacher Barbara McClung

The Success of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method: Students Learn, Prejudice Is Defeated! by elementary school teacher and Aesthetic Realism consultant Patricia Martone

The Philippine Post has an important article by science teacher Rosemary Plumstead on the blood and how teaching this subject countered racism and encouraged respect for the world in her students.

Educational Method Is Poetic, a lecture by Eli Siegel that is a must-read for educators of all levels, is published in the journal The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known


Important websites against racism:
1. Aesthetic Realism; Or, Why I Love Teaching Art, by Donita Ellison
2. Alan Shapiro, Aesthetic Realism Associate, Jazz Pianist, Music Educator
3. Articles About Art and Life, as Explained by Aesthetic Realism, the weblog of Aesthetic Realism consultant Miriam Mondlin


AND this is the link to the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method Workshop--the new semester began this past Saturday, January 22 at 12:30 pm. It takes place every other Saturday so the next class will be on February 5. You should call ahead to request to audit. I thoroughly recommend it both for new teachers and for veterans; what you learn will have you see big, new things about the subject you teach and have you better able to meet the hopes of students in 2005, including by really exciting their interest in the subject, be it math, English, history, science, physical education, or anything else.


The next public seminar on this method will take place in May. See the Chronicle of Higher Education.



My article will follow shortly.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Aesthetic Realism and "The Heart Knows Better"

Ken Kimmelman, Aesthetic Realism consultant and noted filmmaker, won an Emmy for his anti-prejudice film, The Heart Knows Better. Based on a statement by the founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Siegel, it is an invaluable resource for every person hoping to improve relations between different ethnic groups. Mr. Kimmelman is also one of the speakers this coming Friday in "Artists Talk on Art" at the School of Visual Arts. (New York City)


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Aesthetic Realism; or, Is a Person an Aesthetic Situation?

On her website, Aesthetic Realism consultant and actress Anne Fielding reproduces the transcript of an interview of Eli Siegel by Lewis Nicholls of the New York Times Book Review.
While the word "race" is not used, it is nonetheless a terrific refutation of racism, because it shows that every person, of whatever colour, age, background, religion, country--has nothing less than the structure of the world in common.

See the tribute by the Hon. Elijah E. Cummings, one of today's leading voices for ethics and justice in the US House of Representatives concerning Eli Siegel's crucial contributions to the understanding and fighting of racism.

Also, I suggest that you visit the website of distinguished anthropologist and Aesthetic Realism consultant Arnold Perey,Ph.D., A New Perspective for Anthropology: The Aesthetic Realism Method. Dr. Perey is breaking important new ground on this subject, including with Gwe, Young Man of New Guinea, his deep, kind novel against racism.

Read an important lecture on the subject of World War I, racism, and the play "The Miracle of Verdun," by Hans Chlumberg at the home page of Aesthetic Realism Associate Lynette Abel.

AND, essayist Ruth Oron, whose important articles about what can end the bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians have been published far and wide, tells of what she has learned from Aesthetic Realism on her website.

You can see my article, which is based on what I have learned from Aesthetic Realism, in the archives of The Tribune, one of India's leading daily newspapers.

More Important Links:

More about Aesthetic Realism:
Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. I have seen and marveled at her unfailing desire to understand every person and every situation. For instance, look at the class in which she discussed a newspaper article about what is known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She said, "The question is whether this trouble of a child—trouble keeping his attention on a thing, which may be joined by a desire to race around—comes from a way of seeing the whole world. Is there a fight about the world in this child? Whether you're seventy-nine or a boy of four, you have an attitude to the whole world." There was such respect for the mind of a child, as Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips describe in their account of the class. Read more here.


Ellen Reiss has also been commenting, using the principles of Aesthetic Realism, on the upsurge of racism in these years. To see more about this, read the article by Alice Bernstein. In Racism Can End Ms.Reiss writes about about how a way of seeing the world affects a person's way of seeing someone whose culture or ethnic background is different from one's own. What could be more important for people to understand in today's world?


Some of my favourite links are the following:
Read Ellen Reiss's critical observations about the poetry of Robert Burns (one of my favourite poets). She shows how relevant what Burns was writing about 200 years ago is to what is going on today. His poetry has the terrifically just way of seeing people that is needed by government leaders and every one of us.


Aesthetic Realism explains that in order to really respect any person, whether someone of another culture or your own husband or wife, is to see that person as representing nothing less than the world itself. How can we see a person that way? Look at Eli Siegel's Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Ask yourself, does this person have opposites? Do they have every one of these fifteen pairs? (And more besides?) Is he/she trying to make sense of how they have these opposites?


Injustice can be based on race, but it can also be based simply on seeing another person's way of meeting the world as different from one's own, and therefore less valuable. And about this, a person can be monumentally wrong. A classic instance of this in literary history is taken up by Ellen Reiss in relation to the great poet John Keats. She also shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.


One of my favourite links is to columnist and civil rights advocate Alice Bernstein. (See her article above) Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis.


To see what Aesthetic Realism is--and what it is not--see the website devoted to accuracy, honesty, justice--the plain truth!: Countering the Lies.


The Aesthetic Realism Online Library has poems, lectures, reviews, essays, and selections from other major works by Eli Siegel. There are also articles in the press and media about the founder of Aesthetic Realism.


Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology is the website of celebrated cultural anthropologist and novelist Arnold Perey, PhD.

At Aesthetic Realism Resources there are articles on many subjects that concern people today such as love, self-expression, current events, economics, the arts, racism and much, much more.


The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is the international periodical read by everyone who wants to understand what is going on in America today. Edited by Ellen Reiss, The Right Of serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and shows how they comment on current events such as the unprecedented growth of personal debt as well as our own questions and hopes as individuals.


See photographs with moving commentary and technical insight at Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel


Important writings on economics, history, the questions of women, art, literature and more can be seen at Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life.


The website of Aesthetic Realism Consultant Miriam Mondlin is here: Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-Expression.


For teachers especially, we suggest you get to know the work of noted educators Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison. They are two of the finest teachers I've ever known.


To find out what is true about the kind, intellectually-rigorous philosophy that is Aesthetic Realism go to this website which sets the record straight and has, for the public record, the assessment of dozens of noted critics, poets, cultural icons, social scientists, civil rights leaders, artists, teachers, and more, and more: Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies


Saturday, January 08, 2005

Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism

I am extremely proud to be one of the co-authors of "Aesthetic Realism and the Answer to Racism." This book, compiled by journalist Alice Bernstein, includes what I see as the definitive work on the subject: "The Equality of Man," by Eli Siegel, first published in 1923. Eli Siegel, the American poet, critic, and educator, was the founder of Aesthetic Realism.

See the tribute by the Hon. Elijah E. Cummings, one of today's leading voices for ethics and justice in the US House of Representatives concerning Eli Siegel's crucial contributions to the understanding and fighting of racism.

Also, I suggest that you visit the website of distinguished anthropologist and Aesthetic Realism consultant Arnold Perey,Ph.D., A New Perspective for Anthropology: The Aesthetic Realism Method. Dr. Perey is breaking important new ground on this subject, including with Gwe, Young Man of New Guinea, his deep, kind novel against racism.

Read an important lecture on the subject of World War I, racism, and the play "The Miracle of Verdun," by Hans Chlumberg at the home page of Aesthetic Realism Associate Lynette Abel.

AND, essayist Ruth Oron, whose important articles about what can end the bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians have been published far and wide, tells of what she has learned from Aesthetic Realism on her website.

You can see my article, which is based on what I have learned from Aesthetic Realism, in the archives of The Tribune, one of India's leading daily newspapers.

More Important Links:

More about Aesthetic Realism:Ellen Reiss, in addition to teaching the Aesthetic Realism Explanation of Poetry Class, teaches classes attended by Aesthetic Realism consultants and associates, including myself. I have seen and marveled at her unfailing desire to understand every person and every situation. For instance, look at the class in which she discussed a newspaper article about what is known as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). She said, "The question is whether this trouble of a child—trouble keeping his attention on a thing, which may be joined by a desire to race around—comes from a way of seeing the whole world. Is there a fight about the world in this child? Whether you're seventy-nine or a boy of four, you have an attitude to the whole world." There was such respect for the mind of a child, as Barbara McClung and Lauren Phillips describe in their account of the class. Read more here.


Ellen Reiss has also been commenting, using the principles of Aesthetic Realism, on the upsurge of racism in these years. To see more about this, read the article by Alice Bernstein. Also, in Racism Can End Ellen Reiss writes about about how a way of seeing the world affects a person's way of seeing someone whose culture or ethnic background is different from one's own. What could be more important for people to understand in today's world?


Some of my favourite links are the following:Read Ellen Reiss's critical observations about the poetry of Robert Burns (one of my favourite poets). She shows how relevant what Burns was writing about 200 years ago is to what is going on today. His poetry has the terrifically just way of seeing people that is needed by government leaders and every one of us.

Injustice can be based on race, but it can also be based simply on seeing another person's way of meeting the world as different from one's own, and therefore less valuable. And about this, a person can be monumentally wrong. A classic instance of this in literary history is taken up by Ellen Reiss in relation to the great poet John Keats. She also shows the immediate relevance of this mis-seeing to our own lives and time.

Aesthetic Realism explains that in order to really respect any person, whether someone of another culture or your own husband or wife, is to see that person as representing nothing less than the world itself. How can we see a person that way? Look at Eli Siegel's Is Beauty the Making One of Opposites? Ask yourself, does this person have opposites? Do they have every one of these fifteen pairs? (And more besides?) Is he/she trying to make sense of how they have these opposites?


One of my favourite links is to columnist and civil rights advocate Alice Bernstein. (See her article above) Her writing against racism has Aesthetic Realism as its basis.

The Aesthetic Realism Online Library has poems, lectures, reviews, essays, and selections from other major works by Eli Siegel. There are also articles in the press and media about the founder of Aesthetic Realism.


To see what Aesthetic Realism is--and what it is not--see the website devoted to accuracy, honesty, justice--the plain truth!: Countering the Lies.


At Aesthetic Realism Resources there are articles on many subjects that concern people today such as love, self-expression, current events, economics, the arts, racism and much, much more.


Aesthetic Realism: A New Perspective for Anthropology & Sociology is the website of celebrated cultural anthropologist and novelist Arnold Perey, PhD.

The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is the international periodical read by everyone who wants to understand what is going on in America today. Edited by Ellen Reiss, The Right Of serialises lectures by Eli Siegel and shows how they comment on current events such as the unprecedented growth of personal debt as well as our own questions and hopes as individuals.

Important writings on economics, history, the questions of women, art, literature and more can be seen at Lynette Abel: Aesthetic Realism and Life.

See photographs with moving commentary and technical insight at Len Bernstein: Photographic Education Based on the Aesthetic Realism of Eli Siegel

For teachers especially, we suggest you get to know the work of noted educators Rosemary Plumstead and Donita Ellison. They are two of the finest teachers I've ever known.

The website of Aesthetic Realism Consultant Miriam Mondlin is here: Aesthetic Realism Encourages Self-Expression.

To find out what is true about the kind, intellectually-rigorous philosophy that is Aesthetic Realism go to this website which sets the record straight and has, for the public record, the assessment of dozens of noted critics, poets, cultural icons, social scientists, civil rights leaders, artists, teachers, and more, and more: Friends of Aesthetic Realism--Countering the Lies
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