Aesthetic development through sociocultural learning
Heid, Karen Ann
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This study investigates how aesthetic development (Eisner, 2002; Efland, 2003;Siegesmund, 2000; Dewey, 1938) and sociocultural experience (Bingham, 1995; Kasten, 1993; Vygotsky, 1934/1978; Rogoff, Turkanis, & Bartlet, 2001; Caldwell, 2003) promote cognitive development in the multiage elementary art classroom. Imbedded in this discussion is the significance of care (Noddings, 1995) in relationships and the curriculum. At the crux of this inquiry is the following question: are state mandated standards in art are the best way to benchmark our expectations for students' learning? This study describes, analyzes, and evaluates a classroom devoted to teaching elementary children about aesthetic experience, aesthetic development and care through sociocultural learning. This is a teacher research study of an art classroom in Northeast Georgia. The students in this study consisted of eleven third graders and eleven kindergarteners. Within the multiage classroom, three buddy pairs were featured. Two of these buddy pairs were evidence of successful multiage learning. The third pair underscored some of the pitfalls. Narrative research (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000) methods illuminate the stories of the children within this study. How these stories can claim to be educational research is more fully illuminated by Barone & Eisner's (1997) theory of arts-based research. The findings in this study suggests aesthetic development through sociocultural learning leads to accelerated learning as compared to what is mandated in state standards. When in the presence of care, learning to attend to relationships with others moves from an intrapersonal aesthetic experience to interpersonal sociocultural learning. How we place emphasis on understanding emotions, feelings, and senses in the art classroom is educationally significant. In the elementary art classroom children can learn to use their feelings and senses in conjunction with others to develop aesthetically. Index Words: Sociocultural learning, aesthetics, aesthetic experience, aesthetic development, care, zone of proximal development, more capable peers, standards, intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, cognition.