Learning from the Inside Out: Using Art to Deal with Difficult Issues in the Classroom

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National Taiwan Arts Education Center


Discussions of events and issues that cause grief may be seen as too difficult to be discussed openly in the classroom, since they may trigger emotionally charged responses from distressed students. The author of this paper argues that grief work and aesthetic experiences have similar dimensions that may be triggered by engagements with art and art making. The role of imagination in the grief work process is described. Strategies for using art to call forth various tools of imagination to assuage the anxieties of grieving students and awaken empathy among non-grieving students were used during a workshop for pre-service and in-service teachers. The aim of the workshop was that its participants experience how knowing of and within works of art assists a restructuring of one's ability to make meaning of the world. As a result, the workshop participants were able to model, design, and implement experiences in which art was used to bridge to inner and outer spaces of knowing, and refocus the attentions of anxious or grieving students towards learning.



Grief Work, Art Education, Aesthetic Experience, Imagination, Learning Workshop


Manifold, M. C. (2006). Learning from the inside out: Using art to deal with difficult issues in the classroom. The International Journal of Arts Education, 4 (2). 9-25.


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