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Jessica A. Heybach

The intersection of aesthetics and education offers space to understand how the study of perception, sensuous experience, beauty, and art provide the potential for learning and human emancipation. These domains have been persistently understood as necessary to cultivate democratic societies by shaping citizens’ moral, ethical, and political sensibilities. Aesthetics is often considered a dangerous and paradoxical concept for educators because it offers the means for both political transformation as well as political manipulation through disruptive, engrossing, all-consuming aesthetic experiences. In short, aesthetic experiences are powerful experiences that make one think, interpret, and feel beyond the certainty of facts and the mundane parts of existence. Aesthetics offers humans the means to heighten our awareness of self and other. Thus, the study of aesthetics in education suggests there is a latent potential that exists in learning beyond simply acquiring objective information to logically discern reality. Defining aesthetics, a complicated task given the nature of aesthetics across disciplines, is achieved by taking the reader through three perennial debates within aesthetics that have education import: the trouble with human passions, the reign of beauty, and aesthetic thought beyond beauty. In addition, the influence of aesthetics and imagination on experience and education as articulated most notably by Maxine Greene and John Dewey offers the obvious entry point for educators seeking to understand aesthetics. Looking beyond the philosophical literature on aesthetics and education, new directions in aesthetics and education as seen in the growing literature traced through the study of cognition, behavior, biology, and neuroscience offers educators potentially new sites of aesthetics inquiry. However, the overwhelming trajectory of the study of aesthetics and education allows educators to move beyond the hyper-scientific study of education and alternatively consider how felt experiences—aesthetic experiences—often brought about when fully engaged with others and one’s environment, are sites of powerful learning opportunities with moral, ethical, and civic consequences.


Stephen Billett

The concepts of lifelong learning and lifelong education are related to but different from each other. A corrective is required, as public and governmental discourses often mention lifelong learning when referring to lifelong education and these distinct concepts are frequently conflated. It is important, therefore, to make clear delineations between them as they are not consonant, but distinct and interdependent. Lifelong learning is advanced as being a personal fact, that is, learning and development that arises from and is secured by individuals through their experiencing in diverse ways and through activities and interactions in distinct settings (e.g., workplaces, community, and educational) across their lives. Lifelong education is an institutional fact, that is, its goals, concepts, and experiences arise from and are projected by the social world. In schooled societies, experiences in educational institutions and programs are privileged and sometimes seen as encompassing all the worthwhile learning that can occur. However, what shapes and directs that learning is premised upon individuals’ readiness (i.e., what they already know, can do, and value) and their mediation of what they experience. Also, what constitutes lifelong education needs extending beyond the provision of taught courses offered through educational institutions to include educative experiences far more broadly. That is, it should include the educative experiences afforded by the communities and work practices in which adults participate and should engage in the activities and interactions through which they learn. These include experiences in which adults engage interpersonally and those that are more distant and indirect, such as through engaging with text, social media, and other sources of information. So, both concepts are important, as is the interdependence between them. However, without clarity about their distinctiveness and elaboration of these two concepts, they may well remain misunderstood and limited in their explanatory power and their interdependencies not fully elaborated. Identifying these can enhance the utility in guiding the provisions of educative experiences required to support effective learning. Given the range of circumstances and means through which learning and development occurs across adults’ working lives, accounting for the range of educative experiences and how they can support and sustain that learning is important.