The Aesthetic Education Program provides more than 4,000 K-12 students and 200 classrooms teachers with a rich investigation of high-quality works of art through discovery-based preparatory and viewing experiences. A philosophically-based program, Aesthetic Education is grounded in the voices of philosophers such as Maxine Greene, Howard Gardener, and John Dewey.
The Aesthetic Education (AE) Program functions within a collaborative partnership between EFA Teaching Artists and Aesthetic Education-trained classroom teachers. Working together, classroom teachers and Teaching Artist develop and implement inquiry-based, experiential units of study around specific works of art that students view. These units are designed to highlight the possible relationships between an artist’s choices and the viewer’s aesthetic response. Through participatory activities and reflections, students further develop their capacities for observation, analysis, questioning, and meaning making allowing them to deeply engage with and experience works of art while making connections to their personal lived experiences, the outside world, and beyond.
Units of Study
Schools select two works of art from the EFA Rep as primary units of study – one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester. Of these two primary units of study, EFA recommends selecting one performing work of art and one visual work of art. In addition, schools have the option of selecting a third bonus work of art in either semester in any discipline at no additional cost.
EFA assigns a professional Teaching Artist within the selected discipline to work with schools for each unit of study. A primary unit of study consists of a total of eight collaboratively planned lessons plus admission for students to view the selected work of art. Four of the lessons are facilitated by the classroom teacher and four of the lessons are facilitated by the Teaching Artist. Six of the lessons are designed to prepare students to see the work of art and two of the lessons are designed as post-viewing reflective experiences.
Schools have the option of selecting a third bonus work of art with the understanding that the classroom teachers will design and facilitate their own Aesthetic Education unit of study. To assist classroom teachers, EFA provides one visit with a Teaching Artist for the bonus work of art. The Teaching Artist visit may be used as a planning session or to facilitate one lesson.
To assist in the development of the units of study, EFA provides educational materials and invitations to participate in Large Group Brainstorming Sessions for each work of art on the EFA Rep.
This activity is supported by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.