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'Aisthetike' Education : Need for a New Pedagogy for Primary Education

2015-02-24 10:31:19

According to India’s Education For All Mid Decade Assessment, between  2000 and 2005, India increased primary school enrolment overall by 13.7 per cent and by 19.8 per cent for girls, reaching close to universal enrolment in Grade 1. A  major step towards achieving universal primary education as envisioned by the Millenium Development Goals.

“Education for all – Global Monitoring Report 2013-14”, of the United Nations  concluded that India faced a learning crisis equivalent to Sub-Saharan Africa.  Inspite of the 95% success at the primary level there is a chasm in the question of quality. It highlighted that in India 90% of children aged eight could answer grade specific test items correctly.  However, when 14 to 15-year olds were asked a two-stage word problem involving multiplication the percentage dropped to a lowly 33%.  A perceptible decline in learning abilities among Indian children in the secondary levels.

 In order to rectify these disparity in quantitative- qualitative evaluation of the learning outcomes in India,  we need to take into account the vast research being conducted across the world in terms of curriculum development and teaching methodology.  One such innovation is Aesthetic Education.

Maxine Greene, the pioneering American  educational philosopher and activist, defined Aesthetic Education as  "an intentional undertaking designed to nurture appreciative, reflective, cultural, participatory engagements with the arts by enabling learners to notice what is there to be noticed, and to lend works of art their lives in such a way that they can achieve them as variously meaningful."

The idea is derived from the Greek word ‘Aisthetike’ which means perception through the senses. This pedagogy  involves  the inclusion of  arts in all its forms across the curriculum and  foster  a heightened awareness of and appreciation for all that touches our lives. An inductive approach that goes beyond accumulation  of facts and data.

Some of the benefits of such a program include  the partnership of student and teacher sharing insights, ask open-ended questions and express oneself in new ways, self-esteem gained from exploration of a broad range of human relationships  and opportunity to combine mind and emotion, cognition and sensory experience, analysis and intuition toward understanding something as a whole. Such a curriculum is expected to enhance the learning process and open up new areas of learning , rarely made available in the modern schooling system.

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