Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Subjectivization of Beauty

Gadamer tells the tale of how in the eighteenth century beauty both in nature and in art became a subject of scrutiny. To judge and reduce the essential being of artistic beauty to its substance, qualities, attributes, or how we relate to it as a community. We are not looking at art objectively as a something perceived and named as separate outside of the culture we live in. It is a shared understanding. He states that the validity of an aesthetic judgement cannot be derived and proved from a universal principle (p. 37). Yet we are talking about absorbing a particular way of understanding within the universal. Goodness where’s the fun in that? The real joy of experiencing art for me is being able to approach it with my own individual backpack of lived experience. A common sense yes, but very, very personal at the same time. The most powerful encounters with art for me have been both pure emotional and intellectual. Something pretty that has attracted my attention and something that makes me think. I do not think of these as to different kinds of art I just think of them as two different relationships with beauty. I recall sitting quietly in awe with a Leonardo da vinci painting in the National Gallery of London. I only had three days in London so I went everyday just to spend time with it. It was indeed beautiful but the complexity of its historical importance on us a civilization was also in my thinking.
Gadamer is revealing to me this account because we live in the world build of the wisdom of the past. I do not think it is really is helpful to think of beauty and art as either subjective or objective. I think that viewing the world with this paradoxical lens is limiting but we need to take from the past this historical knowledge and add layers of our own understanding to be wise in our own time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

An emerging question:

There are many well-researched and recognized barriers for technology integration in any given classroom today. Recently there has been an effort to diminish some of these barriers. Given my comfort and experience with technology as a teacher and learning leader I have a particular perspective and interest in this. So my foundational and ongoing emergent research question that guides this interest is,
What may be learned and then understood when teachers in technology rich classrooms are brought together within a hermeneutic dialogue to converse about how and why they use inquiry and integrate technology to support curriculum, learning and teaching in their classrooms?

A collection of other questions:
• What can we learn from classroom teachers as they integrate technology in the emergent 21st century classroom today?
• What stories can be shared and is there a potential for transformation learning?
• What is happening in a technology rich classroom environment that focuses on a playful notion of Inquiry and need based learning?
• What happens when we think of technology less like a tool and more of a place for exploration?
• What is it that these teachers feel they need in order to meet the diverse needs of their students today?
• How and where do they find the support they need to bring to their students this new technology?
• What frustrations do they have?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Shift from the Renaissance through the Age of Enlightenment into a Modern world

I gather that during the Renaissance my life would be centred around pleasing God and following a path that I had no choice to follow. I am pleased that I find myself capable and encouraged to think about these things given, that I am a woman and during this time on Earth I would not. (Kant has and interesting view of how women think.) I am to understand that the Renaissance provided the seeds that the modern world has been reseed with. It was in this period that humankind was promoted to the centre of the universe. It took much longer however for the notion of self-governing autonomy to take root. During this time the scientific method was developing but without any concept of pursuit of knowledge. The authority of the church lost some of its bite but the idea of the authority of reason had not yet replaced it.
Fast forward to about 1650 when reason and the ability to think would begin to find its voice in the world in the age of Enlightenment. Imagine a time when humans felt they had no freedom to think or act independently. The ability to think logically began to be thought of as a basis for knowledge. Today given that so few of us take the time to vote I think we have taken for granted this delicious notion to be able to critically think. I mean it’s a gift really when you look at this historically.
I began this investigation because Gadamer keeps talking about Kant as if he was a super hero and I did not have a clue why. Now I begin to see why. While I have major issues with the way so many people are caught up in paradoxical understanding of the world they live it, I do believe this scientific vision was necessary in order to gain freedom from dogma and disrupt the churches control on how we thought of knowledge and how we went about getting more and passing it around to others. But it is the 21st century -people lets move on. The world is wonderfully complex why pretend it is simple? I am convinced we need to get knowledge out of our heads and connect it to where and how we live in the world, the more connections the better. I am very grateful for those that gave to us the idea of freedom to independently thinking inside and outside our heads but the biggest set back in actually getting people to critically think with enlightenment is this peculiar objective view of a wrong and right way of living in the world. Teachers would best support their students learning if they recognized this and stopped preparing their students to live in a wrong/right world and started to prepare them to actually think critically and participate in a nebulous world.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Gadamer’s take on Judgement

So I guess I am a humanist. I mean I do believe in the unseen. I come from a Christian tradition but what I carry with me is a deep belief in the dignity and worth of all people and that we as people are autonomous. We need to be able to judge what is right and wrong without fear from that unseen. I am concerned with a common good and living well with the rest of humanity. I gather that good sense and common understanding must have some connection to the universal. Together we come to agreement in order to live well. Whether subjective or objective we bring with us a view, a place to stand from in order to judge. Gadamer tells me that the word “judgement” was introduced in the eighteenth century (p. 27 yes I am only on page 27). It was considered to be a basic intellectual virtue or a way to behave. Judgement can be seen as ability; in this case it requires a principle to guide its application. Can we teach judgement? Is it a skill that we practice? I am not sure.
I am wondering how Sensus communis or this sense in community impacts the research that I wish to be involved in. I believe it imperative that if I want to learn something new I be able to unfasten myself from subjective judgement and allow myself to take up the perspective others may have. Yet I think that is not the simplest of tasks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009