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This book is about many things. It is about ways of thinking about curriculum, about educational evaluation and research, about arts education, and about teaching, teacher education, and school reform. What makes this book unique is that the ways of thinking about these issues are influenced by aesthetic and artistic paradigms. Remarkably, the ways of thinking about these separate areas of educational specialization are inspired by the works and life of a single person, Professor Elliot Eisner (1933- ).
No one has been a greater champion of the broad utility of artistic and aesthetic paradigms for educational thought and practice than Elliot Eisner. Eisner's educational importance and influence is a result of his profound understanding of the implications of the aesthetic approach; his visionary, challenging, and appropriate application of this approach in a number of areas; and his rare ability to communicate his ideas with clarity and eloquence.
When we began to contact authors who would help us understand Eisner's ideas and contributions to education, some of them said, "Ahh, you are writing a festschrift," a celebration of Elliot's life. Indeed, to some degree we are, but in addition to that we have asked each of the authors to begin with Eisner's ideas—not end there—and to consider the implications and possible extensions of his ideas to the next generation.
The book begins with a chapter that introduces Elliot Eisner's basic ideas and their origins in his experience. The body of the book is composed of four sections that address Eisner's impact on curriculum; arts education; research and evaluation; and school reform, teaching, and teachereducation. The fifth section offers reflections on Eisner by Howard Gardner and Maxine Greene. The book ends with an epilogue that provides observations culled from the various chapters. An essential Eisner reading list, selected from his hundreds of works, is also provided. CURRICULUM
William Schubert writes of philosophical sensibilities and imagination, qualities that Elliot Eisner not only embodies but that he brings out in others. Schubert's autobiographically flavored work reveals how his own trajectory in the curriculum field has been fueled and fostered by Eisner's. In melding theory and autobiography, Schubert argues that "lives" matter. While Eisner is renowned for the power of his works, these works are best understood in the context of his life—as a mentor, a gatekeeper of sorts to the profession, a colleague, and a tireless worker for educational issues that matter most.
Daniel Tanner's chapter recovers John Dewey's observation that four types of impulses animate children. Tanner believes these impulses or functions ought to be lifelong in all of us and that schools could do more to develop them interdependently. The "lenses of art," writes Tanner, "can help curricularists to develop a more holistic conception, vision, and realization of the curriculum field." An arts-mediated perspective would help educators to properly emphasize emergent-generative processes rather than established-convergent ones.
Kieran Egan reminds us that keeping an end in view in the difficult and complex profession of education is no easy task. Eisner, says Egan, has been a keeper of the vision and a critic of the means that have lost sight of their ends. Egan persuades us that the current standards and testing movement is a means that fails to convey us to desirable educational ends, a muddled strategy that is as miseducational as employing the arts in the curriculum for no-narts ends. Egan's chapter explores multiple instances of damagingly deficient means-ends thought and practice. In an educational environment that deludedly works at cross purposes to its best and ultimate ends, Egan argues that we desperately need Elliot Eisner and others with a similar ability to discern the consequences of educational ideas and actions.
James Henderson cites Eisner as a source for many of Henderson's forays into transformative curriculum leadership. In particular—building on Eisner's ideas of criticism, connoisseurship, an expanded notion of literacy, and his general criticism of reductionism—Henderson takes Eisner's ideas into democratic ideals that move away from the Tyler rationale. Eisner has not written specifically about the role of democracy in education, but Henderson finds Eisner to be a good starting place for that kind of thinking. ARTS EDUCATION
Janice Ross reflects on the implications of Eisner's ideas for dance education in particular and arts education in general. To achieve these ends, she explores the biographical origin and development of key Eisner ideas about cognition and education, tracing them over time from his work as a youngster at Vogue Wright Studios, his initiation into the New Bauhaus at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Art Institute of Chicago, his work as a teacher of art to inner-city children, and his intense commitment to the academic life, rooted at the University of Chicago and reaching fullflower at Stanford.
Elizabeth Vallance looks at Eisner's concepts of aesthetic modes of knowing and educational criticism in two different contexts: in art museums, and in the preservice education of elementary classroom teachers. She finds that Eisner's ideas provide a helpful form of assessment for museums and provide to elementary school teachers a consciousness-shifting perspective on what is educationally significant.
John Steers provides an overview of arts education in the United Kingdom and then makes connections between Eisner and the state of the arts in the UK. Once again, the theme of "works and life" comes to the fore. Eisner's influence is not only through his work on the Kettering Project, Discipline-Based Art Education, and his views on art, cognition, and mind, but also through the model he has provided to British arts educators through his life of scholarship, advocacy, service, and mentoring.
Bennett Reimer examines Eisner's ideas for music education by focusing on three categories that Eisner has influenced: the role of the arts in human consciousness, the transfer from arts learnings to non-arts learnings, and the role of Eisner's ideas in the policy arena. Reimer also takes issue with Eisner's critique of standards. RESEARCH AND EVALUATION
Tom Barone suggests that Eisner has been intellectually courageous on many fronts, but perhaps his most courageous efforts have been in the area of educational research. Barone takes readers through a history of artsbased educational research and then informs us of the progress and setbacks still occurring. Barone ends his piece by suggesting two kinds of efforts one might take to advance this new research genre.
David Flinders highlights three aspects of Eisner's contributions to scholarship: his conceptions of transactive knowledge, educational criticism, and epistemic seeing. The first idea, writes Flinders, provides the basis for rethinking notions of truth, validity, and objectivity. The second provides a genuine alternative to those who want a perspective on education practice inaccessible to educational science. The third provides a language to talk about mind and perception. Flinders ends his piece with questions for future educational researchers to ponder.
Propelled by an essay written by Barone and Eisner about arts-based inquiry, Philip Jackson takes the reader on an intellectual journey in which he explores ways of talking about teaching and schooling. Jackson expresses some reluctance about referring to all aesthetically crafted, critical narratives about schooling as research, emphasizing the importance of the author's intentions and audience.
Denise Pope offers a glimpse of what it is like to be a student in Elliot Eisner's classes. She writes appreciatively of the trenchant wisdom and practical advice that Eisner generously shares with his students. She also discloses some of Eisner's key sayings about qualitative research and discusses implications of his ideas for preparing future researchers.
D. Jean Clandinin's poetic narrative speaks of Eisner and his work in three ways: as an artist painting with words, as the originator of educational connoisseurship, and as an educational connoisseur himself. She tells of the significance of Eisner's work and life not only for herself but also for others who wish to engage in thoughtful and imaginative inquiry. She points out that those who wish to carry on these ideas must engage policy-makers and researchers as well as teachers. SCHOOL REFORM, TEACHING, AND TEACHER EDUCATION
Sam Intrator's chapter develops Eisner's ideas about aesthetics into an examination of three types of curricula: the aesthetic, anesthetic, and monoaesthetic. This chapter focuses on four features of the aesthetic curriculum, which combine to create for students "an exhilarating intellectual and emotional experience."
Stephen Thornton looks at Eisner's ideas from the vantage point of what a school program would look like if Eisner's school reform project succeeded. Thornton argues that an emphasis on institutional reform has caused important curricular reform issues to suffer from lack of attention. He explores the scope of this problem by examining its impact in his home field of social studies education.
Robert Donmoyer's chapter looks at school reform from an historical perspective. In particular, he focuses on the works of Thorndike and Dewey and then situates Eisner in the Dewey camp. Though the current standards and testing environment may lead one to think that the Dewey/Eisner side has lost the battle for the schools, Donmoyer argues that this vision of education is still vitally important and offers several ideas about what this camp should do if it wants to try and make some headway. REFLECTIONS
Howard Gardner pays tribute to Eisner by writing that he is one of the "few genuine educators" that Gardner knows, exploring, in the process, the fundamental characteristics of a true educator. In doing so, Gardner also compares his own ideas with Eisner's.
Maxine Greene also pays tribute to Eisner in an interview conducted by the authors. Greene points out the similarities and differences between her ideas and Eisner's. In doing so, she also models for readers the ways in which scholars with congruent ideas sustain and push each other.
The extraordinarily deep and diverse powers of the contributors to this volume and the breadth of ground that they claim Eisner's ideas cover and transform are strong testimony to Eisner's remarkable influence over educational thought and practice. Eisner's work remains immediate, vital, and radically challenging. Given the escalating influence that national standards and testing have over teachers' and children's lives, Eisner's eloquently and passionately expressed ideas may achieve their greatest importance in the coming decades. The editors hope that this volume will serve as an ideal vehicle for comprehending the range and importance of Eisner's work, and that it will lead readers to a reexamination of Eisner's seminal writings, enhanced by a new appreciation of their context and significance.
1. Building His Palette of Scholarship: A Biographical Sketch of Elliot Eisner—P. Bruce Uhrmacher and Jonathan Matthews.
PART 1: CURRICULUM.
2. Sensibility and Imagination: Curriculum Contributions of Elliot W. Eisner—William Schubert.
3. The Mind's Eye—Daniel Tanner.
4. The Curriculum as a Mind-Altering Device—Kieran Egan.
5. Standing on Elliot Eisner's Shoulders—James G. Henderson.
PART 2: ARTS EDUCATION.
6. The Importance of Being Artist: Reflections on Elliot Eisner—Janice Ross.
7. Educational Criticism, Museum Education, and Novice Critics—Elizabeth Vallance.
8. Eisner in the United Kingdom—John Steers.
9. Eisner's Thinking from a Music Educator's Perspective—Bennett Reimer.
PART 3: RESEARCH AND EVALUATION.
10. Arts-Based Educational Research and the Professional Heroism of Elliot Eisner—Tom Barone.
11. Multiple Worlds, Multiple Ways of Knowing: Elliot Eisner's Contributions to Educational Research—David Flinders.
12. Depicting What Goes On in the World of Educational Practice: Who Does So? For Whom? And to What End?—Philip W. Jackson.
13. Teaching Qualitative Inquiry: How Elliot Eisner “Makes Sense”—Denise Pope.
14. A Vision of Possibilities—D. Jean Clandinin.
PART 4: SCHOOL REFORM, TEACHING, AND TEACHER EDUCATION.
15. Preserving the Beauty of Learning: The Qualities of an Aesthetic Curriculum—Sam M. Intrator.
16. School Reform and Social Studies Possibilities—Stephen J. Thornton.
17. He Must Not Know That the War Is Over and the Other Side Won, Because He Just Keeps Fighting: Elliot Eisner as Advocate for School Reform—Robert Donmoyer.
PART 5: REFLECTIONS.
18. Elliot Eisner as Educator—Howard Gardner.
19. An Interview with Maxine Greene—Jonathan Matthews and P. Bruce Uhrmacher.