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Aesthetics in the Classroom
May 26, 2008
When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.
-Alexander Den Heijer

Writing in Beginnings Workshops Book #5 - Curriculum: Art, Music, Movement, Drama, Bernard Spodek talks about approaching art as a discipline in early childhood programs by addressing four components: (1) art production; (2) art history; (3) art criticism; and (4) aesthetics. In elaborating on "aesthetics" in the classroom, Spodek observes...

"There are many ways in which we can make children more sensitive to the beauty that surrounds them and help them understand the aesthetic elements in their culture. This requires that we surround the children with things that are beautiful and make the school setting more aesthetically pleasing.

"An example of this can be found in traditional Japanese homes and inns which contain a tokonoma. This is an alcove that is devoted to the display of something beautiful — a scroll, a flower arrangement, or a ceramic piece, for example. The display adds beauty to the surroundings. You often see such a beauty area in Japanese kindergartens as well.

"You could establish your own tokonoma, or beauty display area, in your room, just as you might have a science or nature display area. An art reproduction or a vase of flowers could be tastefully displayed in this area. You could change the display regularly. Each time a new display is put up, it would help to discuss the display with the children: Why do we consider it beautiful? What do the children like about it?

You could also display the children's artwork in special ways. A few pictures — possibly simply framed — could be displayed carefully on a special section of a wall, or the children's clay work could be displayed in your own tokonoma. A piece of cloth draped over a box or large block makes an attractive pedestal for children's clay work."

Beginnings Workshop Book #5 is part of Exchange's Curriculum Tool Kit which brings you Exchange's popular curriculum resources at highly discounted price tag. The Curriculum Tool Kit includes:
  • Beginnings Workshop Book #5 — Curriculum: Art, Music, Movement, Drama
  • Beginnings Workshop Book #4 — Curriculum: Brain Research, Math, Science
  • Hearing Everyone's Voice: Educating Young Children for Peace and Democratic Community
  • Connecting: Friendship in the Lives of Young Children
  • The Wonder of It: Exploring How the World Works
  • Out of the Box Training Kit: Recognizing the Essentials of Developmentally Appropriate Curriculum


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Comments (2)

Displaying All 2 Comments
kay gabbard · May 27, 2008
Malibu, Ca, United States

I am a little out of my element here perhaps. I relly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I am pretty sure that our Science Room childeren consider their Science Room a beautiful place and full of beautiful things.....most all of which they either brought into the classroom to share or found in our yard or made themselves or with others. I believe it is beautiful to them because they claim complete ownership of their space....every day they are at school. They tell us when they need an area to display their things and they display not to create beauty but because they want to keep them and share them and play with them or work on them again tomorrow. Am I just naive

terry kelly · May 26, 2008
Aurora, On, Canada

This is a wonderful idea. However, I would love to see the aesthetics of preschool rooms be covered more in-depth. Other than in Reggio-Emilia or Montessori based centres, many of the centres I visit through my work are an affront to my senses. There is just too much stuff on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, etc. The colours too often all primary and harsh. There is too much plastic and not enough natural materials and plants. If I don't have a headache going in, I have one going out! Imagine a child with undiagnosed Learning Disabilities!
That's all!

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