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Curriculum as Spaces

Aesthetics, Community, and the Politics of Place


David M. Callejo Pérez, Donna Adair Breault and William White

This book has won the «O.L. Davis, Jr. Outstanding Book Award» 2015 from the American Association for Teaching and Curriculum (AATC)

Curriculum as Spaces: Aesthetics, Community, and the Politics of Place can be viewed as a holistic approach to education, conservation, and community development that uses place as an integrating context for learning. It argues that curriculum and place is a much deeper subject, with roots in aesthetics, community, and politics that go beyond the individual and profoundly address the formation of our current belief system.
Despite the unique efforts described in this book to address the curriculum of space, major issues persist in our educational system. First, the rigor of curriculum studies is not usually applied to this complex field that encompasses philosophy, aesthetics, geography, social theory, and history. Second, the conflict caused by studying the place without contextualizing it within the larger social milieu ignores the nuances of our intimately global social network. Third, current responses ignore the uncritical assessment of underrepresented groups within the theoretical landscape. With these problems in mind, Curriculum as Spaces introduces foundational principles that ask us to imagine the full realization of curriculum spaces and show us how to examine the philosophical and cultural roots of these most essential principles.
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Chapter 2. The Aesthetic Moment in Education


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The expression of personal and communal practices and perspectives, through art, has never been far from either human, or even their ancestors’ experiences. While the earliest known art produced by humans, a necklace of shell beads found in Israel, dates to about 100,000 years ago, the discovery of the Berekhat Ram figurine, also found in Israel, seems to date from between 200,000–470,000 years ago, perhaps predating the time of the Neanderthals. Yet, even this art seems young when compared to the Acheulean hand axes that were created 1.8 million years ago. Whether hand axes rise to the level of art might be debatable. What is certain, however, is that archaeologists have found elements of symmetry and composition that add nothing to the effectiveness of the hand axe except a sense of beauty (Kohn & Mithen, 1999; Nowell & Chang, 2009). Art, then, has been around for a long time!

Prehistoric art, however, did not just happen. While there are many interpretations of meaning, archaeologists have speculated that the tiny figurines, often depicting women with exaggerated reproductive features and collectively called Venuses, are easily portable icons of security or fertility (White, 2008). Cave paintings, for their part, are perhaps more consistent with rituals associated with a form of Shamanism that arose during the Upper Paleolithic age (Clottes & Lewis-Williams, 1998). Indeed, the ways in which ← 17 | 18 → animals were painted on cave...

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