Elliot Eisner

It was a wonderful opportunity today to hear Elliot Eisner in person…to shake his hand and to share brief words of mutual support and validation.  He lacks charisma as a public speaker, but the content of his lecture was rich.

"As you can tell I am not thrilled with the array of values and assumptions that drive our pursuit of improved schools. I am not sure we can tinker towards Utopia and get there. Nor do I believe we can mount a revolution. What we can do is to generate other visions of education, other values to guide its realization, other assumptions on which a more generous conception of the practice of schooling can be built. That is, although I do not think revolution is an option, ideas that inspire new visions, values, and especially new practices are. It is one such vision, one that cuts across the grain, that I wish to explore with you today.

The contours of this new vision were influenced by the ideas of Sir Herbert Read, an English art historian, poet, and pacifist working during the middle of the last century.  He argued and I concur that the aim of education ought to be conceived of as the preparation of artists. By the term artist neither he nor I mean necessarily painters and dancers, poets and playwrights. We mean individuals who have developed the ideas, the sensibilities, the skills, and the imagination to create work that is well proportioned, skilfully executed, and imaginative, regardless of the domain in which an individual works. The highest accolade we can confer upon someone is to say that he or she is an artist whether as a carpenter or a surgeon, a cook or an engineer, a physicist or a teacher. The fine arts have no monopoly on the artistic.

I further want to argue that the distinctive forms of thinking needed to create artistically crafted work are relevant not only to what students do, they are relevant to virtually all aspects of what we do, from the design of curricula, to the practice of teaching, to the features of the environment in which students and teachers live. "


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2 thoughts on “Elliot Eisner

  1. I have come to a frightening conclusion.
    I am the decisive element in the classroom.
    It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
    It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
    As a teacher, I posses tremendous power to make
    a child\’s life miserable or joyous.
    I can be a tool of torture or an instument of inspiration.
    I can humiliate, or humor, hurt or heal.
    In all situations, it is my response that decides whether
    a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated,
    and a child humanized or dehumanized.
    Dr. Haim G. Ginott
    As a mother of an elementary school child, I believe these words to be true…I have seen it for myself.
    Teachers are unique gifts put on this earth, and what they say and feel make a huge impact on our children now and in the future.I have become the person that I am because of all the influential people in my life…a great deal of them Teachers.Thank You to all teachers…I don\’t think we say it often enough.

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