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John Dewey and the Lessons of Art

John Dewey and the Lessons of Art

Philip W. Jackson
Copyright Date: 1998
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    John Dewey and the Lessons of Art
    Book Description:

    What do the arts have to teach us about how to live our lives? How can teachers use art's "lessons" to improve their teaching? This provocative book examines John Dewey's thinking about the arts and explores the practical implications of that thinking for educators. Philip W. Jackson draws onArt as Experience, the philosopher's only book on the subject, and less well-known observations scattered throughout Dewey's writings to consider the nature and power of art and its relation to education. For those unacquainted with Dewey's thought as well as for Dewey specialists, this book provides rich insights into how the arts might inform educational practice.Jackson introduces the basics of Dewey's aesthetic theory and then looks at the ways in which single works of art can profoundly affect the individuals who either make them or come to them as readers, listeners, or spectators. He considers the experiences of many writers-music and art critics, authors of self-help books, poets, and philosophers-to explore the transformative power of the experience of art. In a concluding chapter on the educational relevance of Dewey's views, the author focuses on two instances of flawed educational practice, showing how a more conscientious application of Dewey's view of the arts could have improved the learning experience.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-14770-4
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xviii)

    This book deals with what the arts have to teach us about how to live our lives. It concentrates on a very important but largely overlooked answer to that question, one having less to do with any single art than with the arts in general, and less to do with art objects or performances as isolated entities than with the experiences that they sometimes engender. It also treats the subsidiary question of how teachers of all kinds might make use of art’s “lessons” (understood in experiential terms) to improve their teaching. The answer that it gives to both questions draws...

  5. Chapter 1 Experience and the Arts
    (pp. 1-67)

    John Dewey’sArt as Experience(1934) begins by sidestepping the arts completely, even thoughartstands as the first word in the title. The book opens instead with an extended commentary on experience, its traits and preconditions. There is an important reason for this order of things. For Dewey, ordinary experience is historically prior to its evolved variants. All of the more specialized forms of experiencing, such as those that we encounter in the arts or the sciences or religion, made their appearance secondarily. These more highly evolved forms of interaction derived from experiences in everyday life. They could never...

  6. Chapter 2 The Spirituality of Art-Centered Experiences
    (pp. 68-120)

    In Chapter 1, I laid out the bare bones of Dewey’s ideas about what the arts contribute to human affairs; in Chapters 3 and 4 we will look at what it might mean to put those ideas into practice. This chapter serves as a bridge. The need for a bridge arises in part from things that Dewey leaves unsaid in his account. For example, though he goes to great lengths in explaining how art-centered experiences may teach us something about how to make more of our experience artlike in quality, he has relatively little to say about other potential lessons...

  7. Chapter 3 Experience as Artifice: Putting Dewey’s Theory to Work
    (pp. 121-164)

    This exploration of Dewey’s theory of experience, to prove worthwhile, should make a difference in one’s life. It should affect in one way or another how one looks at things, which in turn ought to affect what one does and says. Should it fail that test, if all this discussion leaves behind is the fading memory of what has been read, the time spent at the task will have been wasted. That judgment has the backing of many pragmatic thinkers. William James, for one, long ago proclaimed, “The whole function of philosophy ought to be to find out what definite...

  8. Chapter 4 Some Educational Implications of Dewey’s Theory of Experience
    (pp. 165-196)

    I turn, finally, to the question of how Dewey’s theory of experience, particularly his view of the arts, might be put to work in schools and classrooms. Before getting under way, however, I need to repeat the warning made at the start of Chapter 3: My treatment of this important topic must not be read as a full-scale examination of Dewey’s educational thought. Readers seeking a balanced and judicious overview of Dewey’s vast educational ruminations are advised to turn directly to Dewey’s writings. His two early educational treatises,The School and SocietyandThe Child and the Curriculum,written while...

  9. References
    (pp. 197-200)
  10. Index
    (pp. 201-204)