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Kerlan Alain (2008). « Arts in school as a change model ». In The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning. London : Routledge. 118–127 
Added by: Marie Musset (10 Nov 2011 18:47:23 Europe/Paris)   Last edited by: Marie Musset (13 Nov 2011 20:59:14 Europe/Paris)
Resource type: Book Article
BibTeX citation key: Kerlan2008a
Categories: General
Keywords: enfant et enfance
Creators: Kerlan
Publisher: Routledge (London)
Collection: The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning
Views: 1713/1999
Views index: 16%
Popularity index: 4%
We are expecting more and more from artists as educators. But what are they really doing for education ? What do they bring for child development and education that is so important ? Why and how do they contribute to school learning ? My work will deal with what artists as artists specifically offer to children when they are in school : I mean aesthetic experience. What happens when children are leaving a true aesthetic experience with an artist ?
Added by: Marie Musset  
What is aesthetic experience? The anecdote of a Chinese emperor as reported by Régis Debray in Vie et mort de l’image (Life and Death of Image) is a case in point. It is said that one day a Chinese emperor asked the chief painter of his court to erase the cascade he painted on the wall of the palace because the noise of water kept him awake. A girl who had a passion for Chinese art and culture told me a similar experience once back from China. While she was staying
and studying in Taipei, she had the great opportunity to meet an old painting master who accepted guiding her in her regular visits to the museum. It was each time a wonderful lesson of painting. The master once stopped in front of a roll and shut up. It was up to her then to talk of the work of art. She did her best to explain how she had become familiar with the work of art, the experience she gained, what she saw and felt but to the growing dissatisfaction of her master who was losing patience and stamping his feet. He then pointed to a lyre in the landscape and asked her: “you speak well of what you are seeing but don’t you hear anything?”


It also reminds me of what Maria Montessori, the great Italian pedagogue and founder of the Casa dei Bambini, was practicing in her classroom: the lesson of silence. It consisted first in listening to the loudest close sounds, then paying attention to the more distant and forgotten ones, the murmur of the class next door, trees rustling in the playground, the train rushing past – living nature in the surrounding forest – that is simply learning to listen
and feel and taking children to the clearing, listening, touching, looking, smelling trees, barks, and foliage, birds twittering, and insects buzzing. In a word, what is the point of going to the museum if the painting is not expected and captured as the crystallization of an experience of the world relevant to mine?
John Dewey too pushed for the necessary and salutary desacralization of aesthetic
experience when he invited to find it first in “crude experience”. He illustrated his advice
with examples ostensibly borrowed from “the sights that hold the crowd – the fire-engine
rushing by, the machines excavating enormous holes in the earth; the human-fly climbing
the steeple-side; the men perched high in air on girders, throwing and catching red-hot
bolts”. I remember the answer of a farmer who was interviewed for a TV show on art and
culture: “When I am in my fields ploughing, my attention is sometimes drawn by a stone
and stops me because of its singular shape. Was it made by nature or by man’s hand? It
looks like a heart. I wonder…It’s magnificent, it’s moving…” The moment before, there was
only a stone and now, after a change in behaviour, there is a sort of aesthetic meditation
and emotion – the stone in the way recalls a story common to the whole humanity, an
experience of the world shared since the dawn of time. The account of this “common man”
refers in its own way to John Dewey’s analyses and assumptions as part of his pragmatist
aesthetics: not only aesthetic experience is not limited to the experience of art works, not
only art works have no monopoly on aesthetic experience but it takes root in ordinary
experience. According to Dewey, “even a crude experience, if authentically an experience,
is more fit to give a clue to the intrinsic nature of esthetic experience than is an object
already set apart from any other mode of experience” Dewey J., 1934, p. 9).
Can this anthropological conception of aesthetic experience pave the way for art
instruction as educational basis or as core education or even as change model? I do think
so. Observing children when they are engaged in true aesthetic experience confirms this
conviction on many counts. The experience of artists in residence at nursery schools in
Lyon will illustrate the pedagogical benefit of the play/symbol/celebration trilogy.   Added by: Marie Musset
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