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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 Seven: Philosograms as Aesthetic Maps of Philosophical Inquiry (Natalie M. Fletcher)


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Philosograms as Aesthetic Maps of Philosophical Inquiry


Can a diagram model designed to map our aesthetic experience of artwork be moulded to also capture a series of philosophical encounters? So far, this book has been exploring the aesthetigram both in concept and application, as a way of acquiring “permanent records of otherwise ephemeral experiences of meaning-making” (Frois & White, 2013, p. 109). Yet exposures to art share this ephemeral quality with community-based philosophical inquiry, especially as they both bring forth a range of phenomenological dimensions that deeply affect our experience but are often overlooked and thus rendered extinct in terms of meaning-making potential. In this chapter, we explore the ways in which the aesthetigram model can be adapted to represent the phenomenological experiences of engaging in collaborative philosophical inquiry, notably with children—what we are calling philosograms.1 How can we learn about children’s phenomenological experiences of thinking together through a philosophical version of an aesthetic map? We begin with an overview of the research study that resulted in philosograms within the context of the Philosophy for Children (P4C) pedagogical model, then consider one child’s philosogram experiment, and end by surveying some of the challenges and opportunities inherent in this aesthetigram adaptation. Our approach is exploratory since our research findings on philosograms are in their preliminary stages: we have no empirical claims to make as of yet. Still, we deem it important to share the...

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