Saturday, October 25, 2014

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Aesthetic Realism Explains the Cause of Youth Violence!

It is heart-breaking that yet again there is a horrible and deadly shooting in one of our nation's schools.  How is it that the same young man, a freshman on the football team who was popular enough to be voted "Prince" of the Homecoming only recently, could soon after take the life of a schoolmate and injure others in a hail of bullets?  The philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, founded by the philosopher Eli Siegel, explains the cause of this and other recent instances of violence that we have been bombarded with in the news.  Read this important letter by Aesthetic Realism Consultant Jeffrey Carduner that appeared in the press after a previous deadly event.  He gives the cause of  violence and what people need to know so that it can end!   Read the letter here!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method--Bullying Can End!

In light of  recent violent events in and around schools throughout the country, I want to highlight again a tremendously important article by my colleague, Aesthetic Realism Associate and Middle School Math teacher, Zvia Ratz.  While the article deals mainly with bullying and how the desire to bully people changed in her students through the mathematics lessons she taught, it is certainly pertinent to recent violence, such as the horrific stabbing death of a young lady who turned down a prom invitation by a young man.

 Ms. Ratz gives the central cause of all violence--contempt for the world--which Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism defined as:  "the addition to self through the lessening of something else."  And she provides the kind, desperately needed solution--honest like the world, real respect for it, which includes how we see and treat other people.  As students see, in this instance, how algebraic equations stand for ethics, they change.  Ms. Ratz writes about the effect on her students of this lesson on equations and others she taught throughout the term:

 "Through this and other lessons—for example, on the least common multiple, and the greatest common factor—my students were seeing ethics in mathematics: that there is an insistent relation of sameness and difference going on all the time. This made for a large change in how they saw people different from themselves. Mocking and cursing lessened. They began to work with and help one another. And they learned!

To learn more about the relation of education and ethics in mathematics, read the entire article by clicking here:

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method !

For nearly 40 years, the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method has enabled young people--from kindergarten through college level, to succeed in their studies.  The basis for this success is found in these principles by the founder of Aesthetic Realism, Eli Seigel.  1) "The purpose of education is to like the wold through knowing it."  and 2) "The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites."  In the first principle is the deepest and widest reason we want to learn anything at all, including more formally in a classroom setting: to know the world better and to like it more.  This meets students at their center and their minds flourish as they learn to see meaning in the world through mathematics, history, grammar and more.  And the basis of liking the world through the subject is the opposites.  Students learn that liking the world can be a joyous and critical procedure as one sees the structure of the world within the subject.  For example, the way sameness and difference are in the structure of every amino acid; the way sameness and change are beautifully one in the water cycle and the way separation and junction are present in the two sides of the heart--though completely separate, they beat in synchrony.  Wonderful!   

I invite you to visit the Aesthetic Realism Foundation's website which to learn more about this great teaching method and how it is implemented. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Purpose of Education as Explained by Aesthetic Realism

I am pleased to post "The Purpose of Education," an introduction Eli Siegel, the founder of Aesthetic Realism wrote for the first public seminar given by All For Education in 1973.  Aesthetic Realism Consultants, Barbara Allen and Dr. Arnold Perey are two of the pioneers that led the way in teaching teachers how to use the Aesthetic Realism Method at that time.  I, Rosemary Plumstead, am proud to have joined them in this great work in 1975.  We continue today as we travel together doing Staff Development workshops at conferences throughout the country and teach a bi-weekly workshop for educators of all levels and subjects with our colleague Patricia Martone, also an Aesthetic Realism Consultant and authority on the teaching of reading and ELL students in the New York City public schools. 

In its simplicity and straightforwardness, this introduction by Mr. Siegel, so relevant today, is what educators and administrators around the globe need to know--what really is the purpose of education!  It isn't the high stakes testing that is now rampant in schools.  It isn't to be the brightest and the best--a goal that drives education in various cultures.  It isn't just to get a job--though surely every person deserves the dignity of work and wants to make a living and be expressed.   So, what is the purpose of education?  Read on.

The Purpose of Education by Eli Siegel

While it has been hinted or intimated often that the purpose of education is to come to a relation with the world which makes the world itself acceptable and oneself likewise a source of pride, it hasn't been clearly said that all education--whether geometry or agriculture, arithmetic, poetry, or computing--is for the purpose of liking the world.
Aesthetic Realism, in keeping with much that has been written of mind, says that mind does two things: it knows; and also likes and dislikes.  The first of these possibilities is called the cognitive.  All knowledge is some aspect of the cognitive.  The second is called the affective; and all pleasure and pain, preference or dislike, hope and fear belong to the affective.

If people are rich in the cognitive--know things in the world and the world itself quite opulently--and don't like the world, it would seems that the knowing has not come to full avail.  Suppose a person knows everything in any curriculum with fulness and subtlety and at the same time says, "All these subjects still have not made me think better of the world.  I've studied engineering, and I'm not sold on the world.  I've studied chemistry, and as far as I'm concerned, chemistry doesn't make me like the world at all better...I've studied history, and I think the world in terms of its past is as much a mess as the present it."

We have to ask, then: What should be the relation of pleasure and pain, or the affective, to the cognitive, which has to do with knowing and not knowing?  Aesthetic Realism says that where anything is known and whether one likes it or not is looked on as unimportant, there is a great disruption in education.  This disruption, of cognitive fulness yet affective inadequacy or failure, has made for a great deal of mental weakness in the world.

There are two things, then, in education.  One is to know the world as well as possible.  The other is to ask consciously whether the knowledge of the world can make for the like of the world.  If it cannot, the world is a mistake.,  If it has to be that the more you know the world, the more you think it is against you or you don't have the valid right to care for it, then knowledge itself is part of a cosmological disruption and a mental disruption.  Aesthetic Realism says that knowledge and feeling are the same thing; and that true knowledge of the world makes for a true like of it.

The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method workshop takes place from 12:30-2:00 pm on alternating Saturdays at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational institution in New York City, New York. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aesthetic Realism: The Teaching Method Children Deserve

I'm happy to announce the recent publication of an article by middle school math teacher Zvia Ratz in the international periodical, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known.  Ms. Ratz, originally from Israel, uses the Aesthetic Realism method as the basis of her math lessons and tells in this article of the tremendous success she had teaching Transformation Geometry to middle level students.  She describes it as, "...the study of how a shape can change position on a coordinate plane while preserving its original shape and size."  Through seeing how the opposites of sameness and change are made one in Transformational Geometry, students saw a surprising structure in an often confusing subject and learned how to make better sense of the way these very same opposites can be better related in their own lives. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Through the Aesthetic Realism Method, Education Can Really Succeed!

In this issue of the international journal, The Right of Aesthetic Realism To Be Known, Chairman of Education, Ellen Reiss, gives in her commentary the principles by Eli Siegel which form the basis of the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method. With exactitude and great passion, she also writes about the economic justice every child deserves--that "the land of America, which means her wealth, should be owned by all of America’s children—all of America’s people." And she asks this urgent, kind question we should all think deeply about: "Should that earth, to which every child is born just as unknowingly, belong much more to some few children and hardly at all to millions of others?" You will be greatly stirred and educated by this commentary.

Also in this issue of TRO, New York City elementary school teacher, Lauren Philipps, tells of the success of the Aesthetic Realism Method in her 2nd grade science classes. Ms. Philipps teaches on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, one of the most economically devastated areas of New York. She chronicles how her students were able to learn successfully and become kinder persons through science lessons she gave on geology and the study of soil. To read the imporant article, click here:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Classes at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation

A new semester of classes is now beginning at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, a not-for-profit educational institution in Soho, in New York City. Based on the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism, which was founded in 1941 by the great American poet and educator Eli Siegel, classes in poetry, acting, voice, the drama, education, "Learning to Like the World," (for young people ages 5-12), anthropology, marriage and more. A new class on the film, "If it Moves It Can Move You; Opposites in the Cinema," will be taught by award-winning filmmaker Ken Kimmelman.

This education enables persons of any age to learn about the relation of art and life in these deep and lively classes based on this principle by Mr. Siegel: "The world, art, and self, explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites." For further information about the schedule of classes and tuition, visit the Foundation's website at:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Opposition to Bullying: The Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method

In the most recent issue of the international journl, The Right of Aesthetic Realism to Be Known, my colleague Zvia Ratz, formerly of Israel, tells of how, through her use of the Aesthetic Realism method, her students learned math with great success and also learned, through the subject, how to end bullying.

All across this country, there are state governments and local school systems that are scrambling to pass strong legislation to try to oppose bullying. New Jersey, my home state, just passed the strongest legislation in this country. You cannot mandate that one person respect another. A law cannot create in an individuals mind and heart, a way of seeing that truly respects and is just to another person. However, I saw for more than 30 years, in some of the toughest areas of New York City, that through the Aesthetic Realism method young people can learn AND become kinder, more truly aware of what other people deserve. The changes in my students, how their minds blossomed and their ethics came forth always moved me and made me proud to be able to stand in front of a classroom and call myself an educator. Read Zvia Ratz's paper and learn how this terrible and sometimes deadly cruelty among young people can finally end.