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Mapping Holistic Learning

An Introductory Guide to Aesthetigrams

Boyd White and Amélie Lemieux

Mapping Holistic Learning: An Introductory Guide to Aesthetigrams introduces the concept of aesthetigrams. These are participant-produced visual maps of aesthetic engagement. The map-making strategy was originally developed by one of the authors, Boyd White, to assist him in understanding what his university-level students were experiencing as they interacted with artworks. Such interactions are, after all, private, individualistic, and fleeting. How can a teacher foster student/teacher dialogue that might lead to enhanced engagement, much less do research, without a concrete record of such engagement? Aesthetigrams provide that record.

Recently, the strategy has been adapted to other fields of study—the teaching of literature, and philosophy for children, as well as the writing of poetry. Boyd White and Amélie Lemieux are persuaded that the strategy could be expanded into other disciplines. For example, might it not be useful for a teacher to know what a student is feeling and thinking as she struggles with a mathematical concept?

Mapping Holistic Learning is divided into three sections. Chapter 1 addresses the theoretical framework that underpins the authors’ research. The second section, Chapters 2 to 5, provides examples of aesthetigram usage within the formal education environment, in art and literature classrooms. The third section, Chapters 6 and 7, introduces two recent experiments in informal settings—one in an adult poetry workshop, the other in a philosophy-for-children workshop. It is not necessary to follow the book in chronological order. Readers are invited to attend to the chapters that most closely address their individual interests.


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Chapter One: Epistemological and Ontological Stances (Amélie Lemieux and Boyd White)


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Epistemological and Ontological Stances


In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of phenomenological principles as they have developed since the beginning of the twentieth century. Then we discuss our rationale for the application of some of those principles to explore personal accounts of meaning-making, particularly in relation to the reading of literary artworks.1 Optimally, we hope to foster aesthetic experiences achieved through the reading of literature.


Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) is generally considered to be the father of 20th century phenomenology. It was his position that human certainties are only achieved through individual experiences of the world, and that these experiences originate, take form, and materialize in and through one’s consciousness. Phenomenology, therefore, is the study of human consciousness. Put another way, phenomenology is the scientific study of the essential structures of experience—experience that “points essentially to referents beyond itself” (Spiegelberg, 1975, p. 248). Those referents can take many forms—cultural norms, personal beliefs, memories, et cetera—layers of influences upon any given experience. That is, phenomenology is not bound by empirical facts. Rather, it is concerned with fundamental relationships between an experiencing subject (a person) and objects of that experience—with how objects are experienced, rather than why. Husserl’s rationale was that the perspective useful to the natural sciences, what he called the “natural standpoint,” is not applicable to ← 3 | 4 → the...

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