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Document Type

Article in Response to Controversy

Abstract

We are concerned with possibility, with opening windows on alternative realities, with moving through doorways into spaces some of us have never seen before. We are interested in releasing diverse persons from confinement to the actual, particularly confinement to the world of techniques and skill training, to fixed categories and measurable competencies. We are interested in breakthroughs and new beginnings, in the kind of wide-awakeness that allows for wonder and unease and questioning and the pursuit of what is not yet (Greene, 2001, p. 44).

Supporting Maxine Greene’s call “to awaken” our perceptions through art, we, as English teacher educators, enjoy interdisciplinary approaches, which include connecting painting, music, film, and vintage radio programs to literature. A guiding purpose in our instruction is to promote aesthetic engagement for English and language arts teachers and students. When teachers, themselves, use their imaginations, they can better facilitate students’ imaginative explorations during interactions with literature and art (Greene, 1993). Within a classroom community, aesthetic engagement fosters dialogue, where there is an integration of perspectives and an opening of minds (Dewey, 1934; Rosenblatt, 1978). Strongly advocating the pivotal role art and aesthetic engagement should have in the school curriculum to develop dialogic communities, Maxine Greene (2000) believes students should have repeated and varied encounters with art. Our discussion of aesthetic engagement offers classroom strategies and theoretical foundations for the efficacy of multimodal approaches to understanding and creating texts in the language arts (Albers, 2006). In schools, where learning is increasingly quantitatively measured according to the mastery of discrete, often de-contextualized skills and students evaluate their own worth according to standardized test scores, aesthetic engagement in the classroom awakens in students the value of their own thoughts and inquiry.

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