My interest in art and education, how they occur together, and specifically, how an object of art educates, led me to pursue how my particular art form, fiction, could “show” what this means. Studying theory has sparked my desire to enter into the process of artistic creation with a heightened awareness of the ideas and issues in arts education. Writing fiction is a personal passion and I am drawn by the ancient educational activity of storytelling, how it shapes emotional responses and uses sensuous language for a more holistic learning experience. I strongly believe that art enables us to learn in ways not available through other means. This dissertation is comprised of three sections, a Prologue; a novel, A Story for my Teacher; and an Epilogue; that endeavour to bring together theory, practice, the world of the novel and the artistic process in art making to defend the value of learning through literature. The Prologue discusses my objectives, limitations, problems and purposes in writing the dissertation in this manner and gives an overview of why in education reading and writing novels is a worthwhile mode of learning. The novel explores parallel lives of an at-risk youth who develops a moral sense through the influence of a teacher, and the new teacher herself who struggles to adapt to the students, teachers and parents’ expectations in a rural school. The philosophical argument in the Epilogue attempts to defend why learning through literature is one of the best ways to fulfill what ought to be the most important educational goal, learning what it is to be human. The ideas of philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Murdoch and Nussbaum are examined, especially in terms of how the arts can stimulate thought, emotion, moral deliberation, artistic judgment and appreciation. My intention in this dissertation is to show that art is not a diversion or side issue; it is one of the most educational of all human activities and a place in which the nature of morality can be seen and felt.
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