Illness and the Concept of Aesthetic Responsiveness In Early Childhood Education

Randa Khattar, Carol Anne Wien

Abstract


What does a concept of “aesthetic responsiveness” offer to our understanding of the dynamics of teaching and learning about or from conflict? And what can it mean to live creatively as a teacher in the midst of suffering? To what extent is it possible to offer a disposition of aesthetic responsiveness in the midst of suffering? What might young children understand and contribute in the midst of such difficulty? We offer these questions within a context of emergent curriculum as an enactment of curriculum inquiry. Emergent curriculum can be thought of as providing opportunities for curriculum inquiries to emerge from the lived experiences of those who embody it. Enacted in the shared relationships among educators’ children, and their families, emergent curriculum can acquire (accrue?) a disposition that we are calling aesthetic responsiveness. In this paper we wonder about the conditions and limits offered up by aesthetic responsiveness in times of trauma. We share what this disposition might offer for the field of curriculum inquiry. First, we wish to show you what we mean, provisionally, by a concept of aesthetic responsiveness as an attitude or disposition to coping with trauma. Secondly, we offer moments in a story of suffering in an early childhood setting that might illuminate our questions. Third, we engage with ecologist Gregory Bateson’s notion of “patterns which connect” (1979), as a disposition of aesthetic responsiveness.

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