I am reading this as part of a course I am taking and I’ve come across some interesting revelations in reading it, pondering it and discussing it with my teacher.
Experiences – they occur all the time, in fact, according to John Dewey life is a string of continuous experiences. He does however differentiate between two types of experiences: esthetic and anesthetic. An anesthetic experience is what our lives are mostly made of – the norms of our life: day to day duties that do not have a significant beginning or end. We are not so much concerned with these experiences in our lives. They are things such as waking up, commuting to work, doing the dishes, going for a walk. We seem to drift from one thing to the next.
An esthetic experience, however, is very different. It is a “wholehearted action” that “moves by its own urge to fulfillment.” (p46) There is an initiation and an end, after which you know you have just had an experience worthy of being label esthetic. It is this “esthetic quality that rounds out an experience into completeness and unity (and causes us to be) emotional.” (p48)
It is necessary to also apply these learnings to education and in particular my classroom. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bring to light the fact that our lives are but an abundance of experiences to our students/children? By explaining and discussing this with them, they can start to recognize and share when they have an esthetic experience and further understand what it means to become emotional (in a more complex manner) and work towards artfulness.