Williams, Rebecca Danielle
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My graduate education was a quest for a deeper understanding of the experiences I shared with my students when I was a high school visual arts teacher. Maxine Greene (1977, 1995) theorized teachers and students could create openings providing space for the development of wide-awakeness through art and aesthetic education. Wide-awakeness is a state of mind and relational practice lived out through actively approaching experience with interested attentiveness and careful consideration. Greene championed that art and aesthetic education have this unique potential because these are relational engagements. Therefore this dissertation is an exploration and investigation of Greene’s writings on the theory of wide-awakeness. The exploration begins by charting the development of the concept of wide-awakeness throughout Greene’s writing and synthesizing and analyzing empirical literature guided or supported by the writings of Greene. Since the analysis identified a lack of research on wide-awakeness within traditional K-12 visual arts courses, an instrumental case study (Stake, 1995), narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Clandinin, 2013) was conducted within a high school visual arts course. The investigation explored the following research puzzles: 1) How did the teacher and students create situations facilitating the development of wide-awakeness in this visual arts course? 2) In what ways did the teacher and students’ participation exhibit wide-awakeness? 3) To what extent did wide-awakeness impact the classroom and the teacher and students? These puzzles were jointly analyzed with the research participants. This collaboration was guided by the establishment of a wide-awake research methodology and pedagogy. After this methodology and pedagogy is explained, the findings are presented as co-constructed narratives. The first narrative holistically explains how the participants facilitated wide-awakeness through the chaotic synergy of the various elements of the course. This is followed by three stories of students’ wide-awake engagement. The final narrative is a reflection upon the impacts of the participants’ enactment of wide-awakeness and how this collaboration impacted me as a teacher and researcher. The retelling of our experiences serves as advocacy for the power of a visual arts education in the lives of individuals and further reveals the need and role of the arts in education.