Education in the Open: The Somaesthetic Value of Being Outside

  • Christine Doddington University of Cambridge
Keywords: body, aesthetics, experience, outside, somaesthetics, experiential learning

Abstract

Over the last few decades, the formal school curriculum in many countries has become increasingly prescribed and attainment orientated with an insistent pressure to measure progress in the name of “raising standards.” This form of constraint on educational practice has provoked counter trends in a desire to enrich the curriculum. Situating learning activities in the open air have become increasingly popular as a counter to formalised schooling. The UK, for example, has seen legislated outside spaces for early years and a growing interest in Forest Schools. The long tradition of activity centres, outside school visits and field trips—offering a valuable way to augment formal learning—has survived in many school settings. The claims for the benefit of taking learning outside are extensive. They range across claiming value for both individual and societal well-being, improving mental and physical health, as well as a way of sustaining inclusion, social cohesion and democratic practice. This article explores how aesthetics and the body may be seen to feature in outside educational experience. By drawing on the work of Richard Shusterman and his extensive work on somaesthetics, the purpose of the article is to augment or ground claims for the worth of “outside” learning in embodied aesthetic experience and therefore help illuminate what is distinctively educational about moving learning beyond the walls of the school.

 

 

References

Abbs, P. (1989). ‘A is for aesthetic’: Essays on creative and aesthetic education. New York: Falmer.

Alexander, T. M. (1998). The art of life: Dewey’s aesthetics. In Hickman, L. (Ed.), Reading Dewey: Interpretations for a postmodern generation (pp. 1-22). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Bonnett, M. (2009). Schools as places of unselving: An educational pathology? In Dall’Alba, G. (Ed.), Exploring education through phenomenology: Diverse approaches. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Dewey, J. (1988–1991/1949) Knowing and the Known. In J. A. Boydston (Ed.). John Dewey: The Later Works: 1925–1953, Vol. 16 (17 Vols.). Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press.

Dewey, J. (2005/1934). Art as experience. New York: Perigree Books.

Dewey, J. (1997/1938). Experience and education. New York: Touchstone.

Garrison, J. (1998). John Dewey’s philosophy as education. In Hickman, L. (Ed.), Reading Dewey: Interpretations for a postmodern generation (pp. 63-81). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

Granger, D. (2006). John Dewey, Robert Pirsig, and the art of living: Revisioning aesthetic education. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Higgins, P. & Nicol, R. (2002). Outdoor education: Authentic learning in the context of landscapes: Vol. 2. Kinda Education Centre: Sweden.

James, W. (1983). What is an Emotion? In Essays in Psychology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Magnussen, L. I. (2012). Play—the making of deep outdoor experiences. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 12(1), pp. 25-39.

Nichol, R. Higgins, P. Ross, H. & Mannion, G. (2007). Outdoor education in Scotland: A summary of recent research. Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved 30 January, 2014, from: http://www.snh.org.uk/pdfs/publications/education/ocreportwithendnotes.pdf

Richards, K., Carpenter, C. & Harper, N. (Eds.) (2011). Special Issue: Outdoor and Adventure Therapy. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 11(2).

Shusterman, R. (2012). Thinking through the body: Essays in somaesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shusterman, R. (2008). Body consciousness: A philosophy of mindfulness and somaesthetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Shusterman, R. (2004). Somaesthetics and education: Exploring the terrain. In Bresler, L (Ed.), Knowing bodies, moving minds: Towards embodied teaching and learning. London: Kluwer Academic.

Shusterman, R. (2000). Performing live: Aesthetic alternatives for the ends of art. Cornell: Cornell University Press.

Published
2014-01-31
Section
Peer Reviewed Articles