Introduction: From the editor

Introduction: From the editor

Pink, William T

This Winter 2001 issue of Educational Foundations contains five interesting articles. In the first, “The Project Method and the Stubborn Grammar of Schooling: A Milwaukee Story,” David Levine presents historical work focusing on Milwaukee in the 1920s. He argues that the American public high school “has been notoriously resistant to pedagogical innovations which might unleash the learning potential of students.” Noting the power of the modern grammar of schools, which has “fixed … in the minds of many as the definition of what a “‘real’ school should look like,” Levine examines “the perilous road which a particular reform traveled from exemplary models to classrooms in a large, urban school system.”

In the second article, “A Cross-Cultural Approach towards Students with Disabilities,” Guoping Zhao extends the work of McDermott and Varenne by interrogating the “realization that there is a distinction between what is in the students and what the cultural construction for them is.” In particular, Zhao is interested in the negative aspects of such constructions. Using the metaphors of “keyboard” and “fiber,” Zhao notes that her “concern is why such construction happens, and why it happens in this manner… .”She explores a number of issues “mainly focusing on Eastern and Western conceptions of the `disabled.'”

The remaining three articles first saw the light of day as a session at an American Educational Studies Association annual meeting. They have been reworked for the journal. In the first, “Restoring Aesthetic Experiences in the School Curriculum: The Legacy of Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory from Literature as Exploration,” Jeanne M. Connell revisits the work of Louise Rosenblatt. Noting that Rosenblatt argued that “literary experiences might be made the very core of the kind of educational process needed in a democracy,” Connell suggests that her “transactional theory of literary work … remains relevant for contemporary educators.” The article provides a brief look at the contributions made by Rosenblatt, “a detailed examination of three of the key distinguishing features of aesthetic experiences,” and ends by examining “how aesthetic experiences hold potential for broader use in the school curriculum.”

In the second article in the set, “The Pragmatic Eye and the Inquiry into Educational Complexity,” Spencer J. Maxcy revisits Dewey and the pragmatic movement. He notes that “for some writers Dewey is best classified as a social philosopher … others see Dewey as a philosopher of science … and still others take him to be an ethicist or metaphysician … a result is, Dewey seems to have become hydra-headed.” Maxcy explores the thinking of Dewey and concludes that “only when pragmatism is embraced along with its aesthetic vision can the future of educational inquiry become instrumental for knowing in the ways Dewey and Albert Barnes suggested.”

In the last article in this set of three, “Using Aesthetic Education To Promote Democratic Aims,” Barbara Thayer-Bacon uses PUSH by Sapphire (a novel about an illiterate 16-year-old African-American girl named Precious Jones, living in Harlem) to “illustrate how literature, as a form a aesthetics, can be used to help us achieve democratic aims in education.” Thayer-Bacon unpacks the importance of using such literature as a means of teaching, “it is an opportunity to let others’ experiences wake us up from our numbness of everyday life and cause us to attend to the taken-for-granted as well as the never-before-noticed.” Moreover, she argues that “exposure to aesthetic experiences such as PUSH can go a long way to helping us achieve a caring democratic community in our own classrooms.”

As usual, I end with the encouragement that every reader should feel free to rejoind to these and other ideas presented in these pages. Dialogue is a key element to our own and our students’ understanding.

-William T. Pink


Copyright Caddo Gap Press Winter 2001

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