Saturday, September 20, 2008

Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

This week's issue of The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known is about education. The understanding of children and of the subject of education here is new, kind, very hopeful, and true. It is completely anti-prejudice.
In it, editor Ellen Reiss writes:
"Aesthetic Realism explains that the purpose of education is “to like the world through knowing it.” And the fundamental interference with learning, the thing that has a child not want to learn, or be unable to, is a dislike of the world which has gone deep in that child. Eli Siegel has described the world as all “that begins where our finger tips end.”

I see this as true about every child I've ever taught; and as true about myself of once. As a child I had difficulty with chemistry, advanced mathematics; and I even had trouble remembering facts about history on a test I had "aced" just the previous day. My accuity did not go deep because with all my brightness and high scores on tests, I had a dislike of the world as such.

There is so much more in this journal. It is light years ahead of anything I learned in teachers' college. It should be the basis of every class for teachers. For instance, Ms. Reiss writes:
"Take a boy of 8, whom we can call Marcus. In his short life he has come to feel that what's-not-himself will likely hurt him, is something he should be suspicious of and hide from or try to fool. Then Marcus is in a classroom, and every subject presented to him is an aspect of that outside world. Arithmetic is that world taking the form of numbers. History, plainly, is about the world—the world as past. Letters and books were created by strangers—they're ambassadors of that wide external reality.
"Though Marcus hasn't made the decision consciously, he has made it deep within: he doesn't want the representatives of a disliked, distrusted universe to get inside him, lodge within his mind. Therefore he has a “learning difficulty.”

One more quotation from the commentary:
". . . persons who speak about improving education in America but aren't interested in having every child own justly the wealth of America, are hypocrites."

As a teacher for over twenty-five years -- of which most of that has been teaching in the inner-city, I saw "Thank you, Ellen Reiss. This is the education America needs."