Monday, February 09, 2015

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Aesthetic Realism Explains, "What Education & the Economy Are For."

In this wonderful issue of The Right Of, Ellen Reiss, the Chairman of Education at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation, explains with such kind exactitude what the economy and education are really for.  And history teacher Christopher Balchin tells how, through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method, his students learned about the Constitution of the United States and became more hopeful and kinder individuals.  Meanness and bullying, so prevalent in our schools, stopped in his classroom and his students came to love what they were learning and respect how their minds worked.  As a teacher who used the Aesthetic Realism method for more than 30 years in New York City classrooms, I know the good effect this method can have and I share the pride that Mr. Balchin has in having changed students lives for the better.  Here is the full article for you to read:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Aesthetic Realism and the Relation of Art and Life

For the last 13 years, Donita Ellison, sculptor and Aesthetic Realism Associate and I have been giving presentations to teachers on the relation of Art and Science through the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method.  We have loved talking to art educators throughout the country about this principle by Eli Siegel: "All beauty is a making one of opposites and the making one of opposites is what we are going after in ourselves."  We have related, for example, the beauty to be found in the Color Wheel and the Periodic Table of Elements; the way separation and junction are present in the way a coil pot is made and the structure of the human heart; and how near and far are mightily one in linear perspective and the way are eyes make a one of these same opposites as we look at the world.  This has been a wonderful journey for us, learning from each other about how to see beauty in our respective subjects and relating the opposites in art and science to the opposites every person is yearning to put together in his or her own turbulent life.

I am proud to post this great talk by Dorothy Koppelman, Aesthetic Realism Consultant, painter, teacher of "The Critical Inquiry Class," and authority in the field of art criticism.   Mrs. Koppeleman began her studying of Aesthetic Realism in classes with Eli Siegel in the 1940's and her knowledge of art is deep and vast.  A beautiful instance is: "Light and Dark, Hiding and Showing in Joseph Mallord William Turner, which you can read here:  You're in for a wonderful experience. 

Friday, January 02, 2015

Aesthetic Realism and Learning: A Lecture by Eli Siegel

I love this 1950 lecture by Eli Siegel very much.  What he says about learning is as timely as ever.  He defines learning as: "the getting into oneself of the world, with as much variety, as much order, and as much respect as possible."  According to Aesthetic Realism, which I have studied and used as the basis of my teaching since the early 1970's, every subject stands for the world.  As we learn mathematics, history, science,  or read a book about Lewis and Clark's explorations, we are getting into our minds knowledge about the world different from ourselves.  This is our deepest, most fundamental desire--to like the world through knowing it and it is the purpose of all education!   There is also that in us that would like to think less of the outside world, including people, to trivialize and dismiss the meaning of what is different from ourselves.  The desire to make less of the world is contempt, defined by Eli Siegel as: "the addition to self through the lessening of what is not oneself."  This, I have learned, is the greatest opposition to learning and the cause of our not liking ourselves--not having the feeling about the world that we hope so much to have.

In her important commentary to "Aesthetic Realism and Learning," Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss writes: "In this lecture, Mr. Siegel speaks, greatly, on the relation of knowing and feeling and the kind of feeling people are looking for.  Aesthetic Realism is education in how to know the world and ourselves rightly so we can feel rightly."  I know this to be true with my own grateful life and through the lives of thousands of students I taught in New York City public high schools over 30 years of using the Aesthetic Realism Teaching Method.  You can read the entire lecture here:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Aesthetic Realism Explains the Purpose of Education

In this wonderful 1940's lecture by Eli Siegel titled "Mind and Schools," he explains what learning is, in the deepest sense, and what can go on in a child as he or she goes off to school on any given day.  In her introduction, which I love, Chairman of Education Ellen Reiss shows how Aesthetic Realism meets the hopes of young persons, including as they are in the midst of life's vicissitudes.  I am forever grateful that through my Aesthetic Realism education, I learned how to see the depths of other people, including my student's, more fully and fairly.  Here is the complete introduction and lecture:

Saturday, October 25, 2014

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.