escher, fireworks 1933

M.C. Escher Fireworks, 1933

Chapter II

Literature Review: Weaving a Web

John Dewey understood that the education of individuals affected the structure and capabilities of society. He encouraged educators to create learning environments that would support the development of personal responsibility in students. The essence of democratic education, from a conversational, interpersonal perspective, is the promotion of egalitarian relationships while facing social and intellectual challenges. As an instructional technologist, I have every reason to use the same democratic processes to educate teachers that I expect teachers to use to educate their students.

Everything we are as a civilization is people in relationship. This seems to me to be Dewey’s great contribution to educational theory, his contention that education is the living moment in which learners meet with teachers to create not only knowledge of civilization but civilization itself.

From my point of view, the primary benefit of using technology in education is the greater connectivity we can offer students and teachers - both through real-time connections and by making available high quality knowledge systems and learning packages. My main objection to the way technology is generally presented to educators is that the emphasis is on the manipulation of hardware and software but rarely on the potential for connectivity that technology affords. Except to discuss with dismay the need to protect systems from people and people from dangerous information, instructional technology research literature rarely examines the philosophical or cultural implications of information technology products or procedures.

This study will examine some cultural patterns during an action research initiative whose primary goal was the integration of technology into the curriculum. The literature review for this study covers the following, each in its own section: 1) action research; 2) technology in schools; 3) art in schools: theory; 4) art in schools: practice; 5) adult education: self-determination; 6) conversational reality; and, 7) justice, responsibility, and care.

Action Research: Historical Antecedents, Principles, and Methodology

Action research and the ethical system underlying participatory democracy developed from theories of social justice described and promoted by enlightenment scholars as early as the 17th century. Benedict Spinoza can be considered the first enlightenment scholar although, in the realm of educational discourse and historical analysis, Immanuel Kant is generally credited with originating the philosophy of the ethical society.

Spinoza (1677/1883) wrote and lived for his vision of religious freedom. Seventeenth century Europe was immersed in religious warfare. Spinoza asserted that God and nature were one and that religions can and should co-exist. Spinoza was the first European philosopher to assert a schema for a peaceful, diverse, and pluralist society.

Kant is credited with the origin of an intellectual, empirical, logical, and epistemologically oriented argument for the fundamental validity of ethical behavior in society. The task Kant set himself was to explain how some people could feel a moral imperative to ethical, interpersonal relations when logic led to the unmistakable conclusion that acting exclusively in one’s self-interest was the way to the good life. Kant’s critique of reason (1781/1965) was that it could lead us only to the conclusion that selfishness was the greatest good. And yet many of us feel the drive to work cooperatively and for the good of the group. Kant asserted that this desire to work for the good of others was an intelligence that used a different sort of logic than the reasoning used in support of utilitarianism.

In the 20th century, Europe was once again immersed in what might have seemed to be an interminable state of warfare. The two world wars inspired many intellectuals to challenge cherished rationalist perspectives in the hopes of, if not ending war entirely then at least examining the precursors and effects of war in order to prevent humanity from descending into a hell of mutually-inflicted violence, pain and misery.

Hannah Arendt (1963, 1977, 1978), Ernst Cassirer (1955a, 1955c, 1956), Kurt Lewin (1936, 1939, 1948, 1951) and Lev Vygotsky (1934/1962, 1925/1971) posed particular challenges that are relevant to this study. Arendt, Cassirer, and Lewin (all profound thinkers) were concerned with explaining the origins and the effects of the social and psychological damage perpetrated on society through the use of such technologies as gas chambers and atomic bombs. Lewin, Cassirer, Arendt, and Vygotsky wrote about the potentials and perils of manipulating social groups and individuals through language. Each made significant contributions to our understanding of the symbolic power of inter- and intra-personal meaning-making.

Arendt and Vygotsky: Thinking, Action, and Relationship

The ideas of Hannah Arendt (1954, 1964) made an indelible impression on me as a young adult. The application of her theories has been fundamental to my work as an educator and community organizer. I adopted the concept from On Revolution (1963) that lasting social change emerges out of practical applications not solely from inspiration, guidelines, or law. I have experimented with the concept from The Life of the Mind: Thinking (1978) that thinking is an act inherently ethical when it is inherently non-utilitarian.

Arendt’s description of thinking (1978) was similar to Vygotsky’s (1934/1962) assertion that higher levels of thinking took place only once thought was capable of handling both the analysis and the synthesis of concepts. Other activities often thought of as thinking. for instance generalization and classification, belonged to earlier stages of cognition and were pre-requisites to conceptual thought but were not as flexible, nor as capable of leading to creative, social action.

Arendt asserted that thought was the mind following its own pursuits, free from the necessity of solving practical problems. According to Arendt, once the mind has had time to think thereafter, when called upon to solve particular problems, the mind quickly extrapolates relevant concepts and applies them to the problem at hand. Arendt stated that this type of free thinking (thinking free from utilititarian application) was inherently ethical and stood in contrast to thinking that was simply a form of rule-following. In Life of the Mind: Thinking (1978), Arendt asserted that free thinking itself could be a safeguard against unethical acts.

Arendt coined the term "the banality of evil" in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem (1977) to describe the supremely ordinary logic Eichmann used to justify his duties as a Nazi. He had been told what to do and he did it, that was his job. Perfectly simple: Follow orders. Arendt’s contention was that thinking created complexity, what we might call relativity, and this complexity made it impossible to take part in the simplistic banalities of evil.

Cassirer: Symbol Systems

Cassirer (1955a, 1955b, 1955c, 1955d) is considered, as is Arendt, a neo-Kantian. Beginning his intellectual pursuits examining the history of science, he soon found his perspective that symbol systems underlay all historical understanding. He is credited with originating the philosophy of symbolic forms. Developed from Kant’s description of the formal organization of mental constructs, Cassirer’s assertion was that meaning rests on a foundation of symbols. Cassirer's description of the active role symbolic systems play in cognition and in the historical development of epistemologies is salient to this study. Symbol systems provide the elements from which the mind constructs operant schemata upon which conversations rely in order to structure, communicate, and re-structure meaning.

Often the symbolic basis of someone’s orientation is related to, or even determined by, the pedagogy and epistemology that they have been taught and in turn, teach. Often there is an affinity between how people like to organize their minds and the subject area that they choose for their concentration.

In the midst of the sturm und drang of social communication for organizational change, sorting out where people are coming from can be aided not only by understanding their operant schemata but by interpreting the symbolic bases of their mental representations. In order to analyze specific conversations with a view to organizational change, my attempt in this study was to decipher some elements of the symbol systems used by the participants.

When participants hold personal narratives that are thwarting their full participation in a change effort, these narratives are often revealed to a change agent in conversations. When a participant’s schemata derive from symbolic representations inimical to the proposed change, it will be more challenging for a change agent to effect change solely through conversation. Symbols are more fundamental, less likely to be available to the conscious mind and therefore more difficult to affect than schemata or narratives (Gersie & King, 1990; Gersie, 1997; Gilligan, 1982, 1990). Nevertheless, in making decisions as to the probable effectiveness of initiatives and activities, an awareness of participants' general experience, narrative style, and favored symbolic referents can be helpful.

Lewin: Social Organization

Kurt Lewin is known as the founder of action research. Lewin (1935, 1936, 1948, 1951) like Arendt and Cassirer, was a refugee from Nazi Germany who came to live, work, and teach in the United States. And, along with Arendt and Cassirer, he is considered a neo-Kantian.

Lewin introduced the idea that researchers have the potential to influence the events that they are studying and that they have a moral obligation to attempt to effect beneficial change by sharing knowledge that could contribute to an improvement in the lives or circumstances of participants (Argyris, 1952). Lewin’s perspective was that individuals experienced their lifeworld as filled with forces acting on them. The aim of an action researcher is to try and understand the complexity of forces acting on individuals in order to facilitate social realities beneficial to both the group and the individuals involved in the change effort. Lewin did not use the terms social ecology (Shotter, 1993b) or systems thinking (Mink, 1979, 1998), but his methodology requires a similar examination of intersecting, overlapping, and inter-relating systems.

With Lewin as its philosophical father, action research has maintained a socio-political agenda of increasing social harmony and disabusing authoritarianism (Dadds, 1995; McNiff, 1993). However, action research does not necessarily share critical pedagogy’s purposes of empowerment through the illumination of economic and political oppression. The critical pedagogists' perspective was that radical intellectual conversation could free the minds of oppressed people so that they might come to view their situation as oppression and then take action to ameliorate the situation. Lewin's action research perspective was that careful listening to participants' reports regarding their situation could lead a researcher, through careful analysis of the forces acting in the environment on individuals and groups, to recommend or initiate structural changes in the organization of the social system.

Although there are aspects to the theoretical stance of critical pedagogy, particularly evident in the work of Freire (1973, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1998) and Apple (1979, 1982) that have been illuminating and inspirational for me, because of its essentially polarized and politicized methodology, critical pedagogy was not a suitable philosophical framework for the kind of action research I wished to pursue (Ellsworth, 1989). I do not interpret action research as revolutionary in an aggressive sense. I interpret action research as a call to participate as an engaged individual with the supra-personal agenda of contributing to inclusive, peaceful, democratic processes.

Action research involves a cyclical process of active participation and self-reflection. When an action researcher works in an environment, it is for the purpose of social change. However, an action researcher is not the same as a labor organizer. An action researcher, working with Lewinian constructs, attempts to clarify and ameliorate social inequities through participation in, and analysis of, the social/professional praxis taking place in a specific environment.

Recent Developments: Group Interaction and Knowledge Creation

Oscar Mink's work (1970, 1979, 1993a, 1993b, 1993c, 1994, 1998, 2000) provided inspiration and guidance for this action research study. Mink’s theory of open systems, his work in organizational change, the learning organization and knowledge management reinforced for me my experience that personal development works synergistically in groups.

Mink has written that change in organizations relied upon a change agent’s ability to identify and support individuals in that organization. The support must manifest in the form of an attitude of acceptance towards individuals as people and simultaneously, in concrete, pragmatic efforts to accomplish group-identified goals. Group synergy emerges, according to Mink, when people are able to support each other within the context of the larger organization. For individuals to become self-organizing in this manner, they must feel accepted and they must not be too severely thwarted by circumstances. As far as I know, completely removing the barriers thwarting individual and group emergence is an impossibility. Nevertheless, in my experience, acceptance of and respect for people can remove many barriers to change.

Gordon Lippitt (1978, 1982) has collaborated with both Mink and Lewin. One of Lippitt’s most original contributions was the T-group model. T-groups were training groups, small groups in an organization who, working with the change agents, went through a change process and then facilitated change throughout the organization. T-groups actively participated in creating the change model. Through conversation and shared experiences, T-groups co-created solutions with the change agent. According to Lippitt, once T-group members have understood the change process and made significant meaning together, the rest of the organization will inevitably be changed.

In his article, Action Research and Social Movement: a Challenge for Policy Research (1993), Stephen Kemmis described action research as a form of social action creating new social practices by initiating discussion and shared experiences. According to Kemmis, the aim of action research is to help people to understand themselves as agents of social change by supporting activities in which they can experience their agency.

The theories discussed in this section all support the idea that people have within themselves the ability to co-create new patterns and options. The historical thrust of the philosophy and practice of action research has been towards individual autonomy in a context of social responsibility (Carson & Sumara, 1997).

Technology in Schools

This section on technology in schools will first review the organization and educative potential of the World Wide Web, and then discuss several recent research studies in the area of technology in schools. This section ends with a reiteration of the inherent connection between art and technology.

Connectivity and Collaboration

The World Wide Web (WWW) was invented by Tim Berners-Lee (1999) who then relinquished his right to patent the software engineering. Berners-Lee gave the WWW to the world so that no one could ever own it, so that everyone would have the right to work with it. Perhaps the reader will enjoy thinking of the WWW as an international park, preserved in order to be accessible to everyone equally, as a citizen of the world. Berners-Lee wrote that he hoped that the WWW user would do more than passively receive information, or merely advertise and sell merchandise (utilitarian usage). Berners-Lee intended the WWW to be held in common, a medium for boundaryless collaboration, knowledge building, and lifelong learning (humnitarian usage).

Berners-Lee received his doctorate from Oxford in classification systems. Berners-Lee created the basic elements of the WWW at the Conseil Européenne pour la Recherche Nucleaire (CERN), a High-Energy Particle Physics lab in Geneva, Switzerland. Physicists come to CERN from all over the world to work with the particle accelerators (these extend for miles under the mountains and are invaluable for understanding the behavior of sub-atomic particles). Berners-Lee's challenge was to enable scientists working at CERN to share knowledge when each scientist’s computer was likely to use a different operating system (i.e. different ontologies). Berners-Lee's solution was the development of HTML, hypertext markup language. The development of hypertext and the WWW is a fascinating story but not particularly relevant to this study. However, Berners-Lee's original concept, to facilitate collaboration, his beneficence in insisting that the web remain free and available to anyone and his concept of a world-wide, open and shared mind was an inspiration that delighted my hopes and led me to attempt a technology integration initiative focused on improving the school’s web site. (See Appendix B for my letter to the Campus Leadership Team.)

In his book, Weaving the Web (1999) Berners-Lee stated, "The vision I have of the web is of anything being potentially connected to anything. It is a vision that provides us with new freedom, and allows us to grow faster than we ever could when we were fettered by the hierarchical classification systems into which we bound ourselves" (p. 1). Clearly, the web offers an opportunity to explore collaborative and heterarchal organizations of material, information, and relationships.

Recent Research in Technology Education

This section includes a brief discussion of five articles on technology education. The articles concern technology refusal, technology literacy, conceptual change, creative thinking, and conditions for learning.

Technology refusal. Steven Hodas’ oft-cited article, Technology Refusal and the Organizational Culture of Schools (1993), was critical to the conceptualization of this study. I will examine some of Hodas' points in depth.

Although Hodas challenged a general assumption in instructional technology when he asserted that technology was "never neutral," he did not question whether or not technology (as a system) was pedagogically benign. He pointed out that the integration of technology carried with it a set of practices that would either be in alignment with or contrary to the organization of the school.

Hodas reported that technologists were continuously disappointed in their dream of technology changing the way schools work because they would not take into consideration the fundamental stability of schools' organizational patterns. However, Hodas did not reverse his lens to question whether or not schools were disappointed in their dream of technology helping them with their curricular challenges. Hodas did not unpack, deconstruct or analyze what precisely a technologist’s ideal school might be (Leonard, 1968). Hodas did assert that technicians considered efficiency to be a feature of enlightenment and hoped to make schools enlightened by making them more efficient. Technicians also, according to Hodas, made the assumption that schools were themselves technologies that could be engineered.

Hodas characterized school cultures and organizations as being self-protective, extremely hierarchical, and profoundly conservative. However, my previous experiences introducing television technology into the schools as an artist-in-the-schools had not been that school cultures were self-protective, rather they were centers of intense gossip and constant social, emotional and political manipulation and upheaval. In my experience, school cultures were not homogeneous nor did they function for self-protective interests. In fact, I had often hoped that schools might act more consistently in their own interest; schools so often have taken the brunt of every critical breeze that blows across the political landscape. And, once again, Hodas did not question whether or not technology itself and the cultural organization of technology might be considered self-protective, extremely hierarchical, and profoundly conservative from a curricular perspective.

Schools themselves did not seem to me to be extremely hierarchical. However, I had often noticed that the central bureaucracies that run schools, that handle the funding for schools, had many levels to their hierarchies, resulting in teachers being virtually cut-off from decision-making processes. Workers being far removed from the decision-making affecting their work has been a socio-political factor endemic to western civilization. I had little doubt that hierarchy was a factor in teacher resistance to technology. However, I was not convinced by Hodas’ argument that teachers had thoroughly internalized hierarchical methods and principles. Nor was I convinced that teachers were resisting technology because of technology’s inherent progressivism.

Hodas' assertion that schools were essentially conservative was also problematic: Although I have found that the curriculum is often controlled by socio-political conservatives, I have experienced, both as a student and as a teacher, periods of time when teachers and even entire schools have taken the lead in progressive social and political action and discussion.

Hodas characterized teachers as less intelligent than technologists and therefore less innovative. He used the criteria of how much teachers read as how intelligent they were. I seriously doubt that we possess a reliable statistic on teacher reading habits. Hodas also asserted that teachers were: a) comfortable with the premises of conservative educational bureaucracy; b) without other career options; and c) those who felt a "call" to be teachers, soon lost that idealistic stance and gave into a reluctant drudgery lasting until their retirement. The teachers I have known have not necessarily been thrilled with their roles nor entirely content with their situations, but most of them have been dedicated, intelligent, caring, hard working, self-sacrificing, and progressive in the sense of believing that the future is worth working towards. Many of my teachers, from as early as the first grade, have changed my life profoundly and for the better. Many teachers I have worked with have taught me to see deeper into the world and into people. Many of my teachers challenged me to open my mind and my heart by modeling an openness of mind and heart.

Hodas’ view of the "culture of technology" and the "culture of refusal" was illuminating and did correspond to my experiences with corporate and academic instructional technology. Hodas reported that computers were developed from a factory model of industry. Further, he asserted that the basic purpose of educational technology has been to facilitate the transfer of skills and information.

"The culture of refusal," in Hodas’ view, was a "struggle over the soul of the school…[a struggle between] self interest and self definition." Was the primary symbolic dichotomy determining the course of technology innovation a struggle between two forms of selfishness? Had our educational Atlas finally shrugged altruism in favor of materialism and labeling? Perhaps. Perhaps not entirely. I thought, by engaging altruistically, I could facilitate a technology integration initiative that would support the soul of a school — a soul that I perceived as altruistically struggling to actualize its potential to make complex, democratic, educative meaning.

Technology literacy. Cajas (2000) called for a clear definition of technology literacy in order that technology advocates could more easily argue for technology's place in the curriculum as a unique subject. Cajas was concerned that technology pass from a craft to a science; and he proposed that the way to effect this change was through a definition that would encourage an academic orientation considerably different to that of technology as a tool (the definition most commonly held at present).

Cajas called for research that would "help clarify" technology literacy. I did not agree with Cajas that technology deserves a unique place in an already overcrowded curriculum. And I did not feel that a definition was the critical element in technology’s evolution into an academic discipline. My view is that technologists must address the value systems and social purposes that have contributed and could conceivably contribute to the development of the field (i.e. theoretically cogent analyses of the history of techne and the variety of philosophies incorporated into technological forms) before technology can be considered an epistemology or deserve a place alongside other academic disciplines. In the meantime, I agreed with Cajas that more research was needed to define technology literacy and I hoped that my study would contribute to the ongoing conversation concerning this definition.

Conceptual change. Georghiades’ study (2000) was in conceptual change learning (CCL). CCL focused on the cognitive step science and math students must take in order to comprehend concepts that do not easily or immediately correspond to a common view of a phenomenon. In the CCL field, the challenge was to facilitate comprehension of non-intuitive conceptualizations.

As far as I know, CCL has never been allied with art education. This is astonishing to me since traditionally one of art’s primary purposes and cultural values has been to alter standard conceptualizations. Surely CCL is an area ripe for a merging of science and art, goals and pedagogies. I hoped that this study would support this kind of merger.

Creative thinking. Pithers and Sodden (2000) observed that definitions of critical thinking often left out and even purposely excluded creative and imaginative thinking. These researchers contended that education ought to concern itself with the development of wisdom. Wisdom, in their view, would be a merging of critical and creative thinking. I note that there was no mention in their article of Project Zero (Nelson Goddman's Project Zero, a Harvard-based initiative designed specifically to study the relationship between creative and critical thinking, is discussed in Art in Schools: Theory, later in this chapter). Technology curricula usually do not cover developments in art education. This was more incentive for me to research technology from an arts perspective. Readers exposed to literature concerning both art and technology education might discover an interest in pursuing an effective, affective, ethical integration of modes of critical and creative thinking.

Conditions for learning. Hansen’s study (2000) focused on action research and technology. Hansen’s main point was that action research was the ideal methodology for technology educators because technology education was already based on situated, constructivist, experiential learning.

Hansen asserted that technology teachers had a bias towards using Kurt Lewin’s technique of creating environments conducive to learning rather than transferring information in a procedural manner. Hansen quoted Einstein as having said, "I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn" (p. 24). One final point of interest in Hansen’s study was his understanding of technology education as providing a balance between "the discursive and the manual" (p. 30). He stated that the fields of art, medicine, and agriculture had traditionally provided a balance between "the discursive and the manual." This was the only study I found in technology education in which there was a statement describing a pedagogical similarity between technology and art.

The educational theorist Jerome Bruner has been extremely influential in the field of educational technology, both in the area of conditions for learning and cognitive theory. Unfortunately, technology designers seem to have been more aware of Bruner’s extension of Piaget’s learning stages (1959) and less aware, and much less interested in Bruner’s later work on the co-construction of meaning and negotiation (Bruner, 1985, 1986, 1990).

An Aesthetic Critique of Technology

I initially chose to read Choe’s book Toward an Aesthetic Criticism of Technology (1989) as an aid in designing CD-ROM-based learning materials for a software division of a large computer company. I was looking for an analysis of why so many instructional technology designs seemed to be so conceptually/aesthetically limited. Delving in, I found that Choe’s book was not a critique of technology’s lack of aesthetic appeal but a careful delineation of the intrinsic similarity between aesthetics and technology. Choe's book was so vital to my thinking regarding this study that I go into his analysis in some detail.

On the very first page of Choe’s magnificent book, I found the following statement: "The primary human activity is shaping reality for oneself and contributing an aspect of shape to reality, through both physical and mental acts of construction" (1989, p. 1). Choe brought together the constructivist paradigm and critical pedagogy’s agentic, engagement in social co-construction.

Choe's statement that "the notion of formal choice in technology [must be brought] to the fore" (p. 3), referred to the notion that aesthetics’ disciplined examination of formal choice in the making of objects, events, and experiences should be extended from the realm of aesthetics to study the choices made in the field of technology. He went on to say that "artistic and technological discoveries are both [italics mine] grounded in system building" (p. 10).

Choe asked whether "the process of experimenting and making technical adjustments [is] confined to technological intentions, or is it a constant in all form-constructing processes?" (p. 31). Cajas' (2000) research agenda (to define technology literacy) might benefit from this line of questioning. When examining the place that technology should have in education, the issue of form-construction is apt. What form-construction processes are taught in school today? A discourse has evolved concerning the various cognitive abilities developed through the different types of form-production (Gersie & King, 1990; Goodman, 1978; Langer, 1963; Ruddick, 1989; Schank, 1986; Turing, 1948/1968). This discourse has created a common ground in the divide between knowledge how and knowledge that (Degenhart, 1982; Hyland, 1993), a divide that has crippled both academic and vocational education with an insistent denial of the basic human need to integrate knowledge with action.

Often those people taught to work with forms (vocational training and some versions of scientific, engineering, and artistic curricula) are not given an education in values and reasoning sufficient to question the roles that they play, the activities that they engage in, and the products that they produce (Apple, 1982; Dewey, 1916; Efland, 1990; Lindeman, 1926; Tarrant, 1989). In contrast, those trained to work with concepts (traditional academic training) are rarely given an opportunity to experience how our concepts influence practical reality, persons, or relationships (Rose, 2000).

Choe contended that it was the "non-utilitarian structures [that] have stretched the limits" (1989, p. 129) of our understanding of natural processes. In other words, Choe agreed with Harrison (1913, 1962) and Dewey (1934) that it has been art that has provided the inspiration for scientific and technological progress. Choe’s argument also corresponded to Arendt’s conception of the ethical role that non-utilitarian, free thinking plays in the life of the mind.

I will end the discussion of Choe’s book with two quotes that I found particularly inspiring. First, "When making and judging (practice and recognition) are integrated with the self, an aesthetic criticism of technology becomes a genuine reality. In the aesthetic context, one is no longer merely a consumer of technological products, but a producer of experiences [italics mine] that contribute to building a creatively habitable world" (1989, p.11). And, the final words in this section on technology in the schools, "technology, like poetry, creates form and material for further activity of the mind" (p. 111).

Art in Schools: Theory

Democracy and Education (1916), Art as Experience (1934), and Experience and Education (1938): It always seemed to me that there were two books missing, logical continuations of Dewey’s astounding trilogy, books that would bring together Dewey’s vivid descriptions of living democratic action with his equally vivid depiction of thinkers as creative actors. I want Dewey to have written a book called Democracy as Art and then a further elucidation entitled, Art and Education.

I cannot produce these non-existent works by John Dewey. Instead, in this study I offer to describe how the relationship between democracy, education, experience and art was supported during an action initiative to integrate technology into a high school art curriculum. The philosophical questions this study explored concerned the interrelationship of art, experience, education and democracy. I was interested in supporting the co-operative evolution of these four titanic concepts in the life of a school through an experience of technology integration, created and shared in moments of co-agentic conversation.

This section on art education theory provides an overview of the work of some theorists who have made significant contributions to the present understanding of art in the curriculum: John Dewey, Eliot Eisner, Jerome Bruner, Arthur Efland, Nelson Goodman, Howard Gardner, and Maxine Greene.

Art in the Curriculum

Dewey pointed out that knowledge was embedded in, and also derived from, experience. For democracy to continue to exist, democratic experiences must play a significant role in education. For Dewey, art’s cultural significance lay in the nature of its practice. Dewey understood artistic praxis as a process involving engagement with the tangible and, simultaneously, with the intangible. Art brought together, in the experience of the artist, body and soul, mind and matter, and finally, self and other. Dewey’s thrilling assertion that people were the means and the ends of education, art, experience, and democracy has been the focus of many humanitarian educational efforts.

Eliot Eisner (1976, 1978, 1985a, 1985b, 1994, 1998, 1999) argued eloquently that art belongs in the core curriculum. Eisner’s argument focused on the necessity of creating standards and evaluation systems that would guarantee art a standing equal to any other academic subject. Eisner's conceptions were influenced by his background in art criticism. Eisner is credited as the progenitor of the discipline-based arts curricula presently funded by the J. Paul Getty Foundation. Discipline-based arts is a cognitive and organizational structure for art education that eases assessment and evaluation by incorporating the ethos and structure of pragmatic efficiency. On one level in particular Eisner’s argumnent has been successful: the justification for the centrality of art in the curriculum has been incorporated into our national standards (Goals 2000: Educate America Act, 1994). (See Appendix C for state guidelines for art education, 2001.)

Jerome Bruner (1985, 1986, 1990, 1996) has contributed a great deal of theoretical and practical support for creative thinking as a necessary element of cognition embedded in his descriptions of constructivism. Bruner’s appreciation of art education located art within a socio-constructivist philosophy of education. In Bruner’s model, teachers are responsible for creating learning situations and environments in which students actively participate: Learning activities are designed to lead students to realizing the truth of extant theoretical models.

Jerome Bruner, later an educational advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, helped organize the Woods Hole Conference in 1959 that has been credited with inspiring the "new science" curriculum. As a grateful high school participant in a science curriculum inspired by this early work of Bruner’s, I can vouch for the excitement in the moment and the permanent cognitive benefits of studying physics from a textbook designed according to Bruner’s participatory, discovery model of scientific proofs. Art and science are equally well suited to constructivism’s hands-on, participatory approach to education; a melding of theory and practice is crucial for the skilled practice of either discipline.

Arthur Efland (1990, 1996) made an impact on art education theory through his perspective on the history of art and art education. Efland illuminated cultural assumptions underlying the purposes and values of art education. He suggested that educational objectives forced educators to treat knowledge as a commodity rather than as a process. Efland's view was that knowledge emerged from syntheses made within the context of living moments of experienced reality. Efland’s insistence on the value of synthesis is reminiscent of Vygotsky’s (1934/1962) definition of conceptual thinking. Based on available information and skill, through the co-creation of meaning and relationship, knowledge is continuously forming and reforming. Efland disputed the utilitarian view that knowledge was "made" and available for distribution. He asserted that this static view of knowledge as a commodity contributed to the perpetuation of illegitimate (i.e. non-democratic) social control.

Efland used Polanyi's (1966) definition of tacit knowledge to argue that understanding that is present but not yet articulated will always be greater than articulated knowledge. What there is to know will always exceed what is known and what is known will always extend beyond articulated knowledge. If art educators were allowed to recognize and value tacit understanding, Efland argued, there would be an appreciable difference in their curricular assessments and evaluations. Efland's position was purposely posed as a challenge to discipline-based arts praxis and theory.

Whatever theoretical position one prefers with respect to art education, it is clear that the discussion surrounding evaluation and assessment has occupied a central place in the theoretical debate. Perhaps there is room for a few, new approaches to art education. This study seeks to share relational descriptions from the point of view of a change agent exercising the ethic of care during a change initiative involving art and technology. My hope is to complicate and extend the conversation concerning what is appropriate for serious curriculum debate in the field of art education.

Creative and Critical Thinking

Two major educational theorists who have had profound effects on art education have been involved in Project Zero, Nelson Goodman and Howard Gardner. Based at Harvard, founded in 1967 by Nelson Goodman, Project Zero is a research group investigating aesthetic education and the relationship between critical and creative thinking. When Nelson Goodman founded Project Zero, it was for the purpose of supporting research that would lead to the improvement of the teaching of art. The reason Goodman gave for naming the project "zero" was that there were zero studies on art education at the time. Gardner was co-director of Project Zero from 1972 until 2000. This section will review a few elements of Goodman's and Gardner's writing on art and education salient to this study.

Goodman was an art collector and ran an art gallery in Boston for several decades. In his book, Ways of Worldmaking (1978), Goodman contended that art was a way to make the world or of making worlds. According to Goodman, the pluralist notion of the existence of many different worlds (structures of consciousness) did not stand in an antagonistic relationship to the notion of a unified world of shared, ontological perceptions. From the particularist point of view of an individual experience, there are many created, unique worlds. From the point of view of shared reality, we functionally occupy an agreed upon world together. Goodman’s work sparked interest in whether and how a cooperative (i.e. non-antagonistic) cognitive relationship between a pluralist view and a unified, ontological perspective could lead to serious discussions concerning personal and public responsibility for the creation of individual and shared worlds.

Goodman's description of our many, unique worlds was similar to Habermas’ concept of the lifeworld (1973, 1984). Goodman’s idea of worldmaking included the idea that art was the means through which we explored possible worlds before we commit to living them. Possible worlds were the possible futures from which people could extract elements to use in creating their lived realities.

Goodman stated that he would have us rid ourselves of the onus of trying to solve the famous conundrum, "What is art?" (Sesonske, 1965; Tolstoy, 1898) and ask instead, "When is art?" When is art was meant to throw the focus of analytic attention away from production, from product and object, and onto the lived moments, the processes involved in the making and interpreting art. Goodman wrote extensively in the areas of logic and was a brilliant example of someone fully capable of working with all types of cognition; he was particularly able at synthesizing critical and creative thinking.

Developed under the aegis of Project Zero, Gardner’s (1983) theory of multiple intelligences proposed a complex and influential view of educational possibility. Gardner at first proposed that there were seven types of intelligence (bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and logical-mathematical). Gardner’s premise brought forward questions concerning how we might teach to develop multiple intelligences and how we might assess and evaluate learning and teaching in a multiplicity of modes. Gardner’s work increased awareness of the value of diverse types of intelligence. Note that all Gardner’s types of intelligence are practiced in the arts; and that Gardner placed no theoretical limits on the possible combinations of types of intelligence.

Gardner’s theory is compatible with that of Hirst (1974) who claimed that there were fundamental knowledge domains that embodied, in their epistemological structure, different types of reasoning. Hirst’s suggestion was that each knowledge domain was cognitively unique, therefore, to ensure the development of a fully rounded cognition, every domain should be included in the curriculum. The theories of Gardner and Hirst have been used to argue in support of experimental forms of education such as team teaching, collaborative learning, inter-disciplinary, and arts-based curricula.

Technology has been reported to be effective in supporting a variety of learning styles. A significant amount of research has developed around computer supported collaborative learning (Baecker, Grudin, Buxton & Greenbert 1995; Bostrom, Watson, & Kinnet, 1992; Chan & Chou, 1997). However, an issue that can be considered more fundamental to learning than learning styles - how to coordinate and synthesize critical and creative thinking - has been less well explored in academia, and is as yet only rarely facilitated by instructional technology programs, procedures, or pedagogy.

Becoming Who We Are

Maxine Greene (1978, 1988, 1995, 2001) was dedicated to elucidating the kinship between educational and artistic process. Greene taught that art had the power to educate. Greene made it respectable for teachers and administrators to use art for inspiration and illumination. Greene was a founder of the Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education. This organization provides workshops, lectures, and programs for schools, practitioners, and pre-service teachers. An interdisciplinary program, dedicated to the integration of the arts and artistic process into the curriculum, the Lincoln Center Institute has had a significant impact on education praxis.

Greene’s educational philosophy was eclectic. She combined sensitivity to women’s issues with a sense of the teacher as artist and a respect for the teacher as a professional. She was an advocate for democratic practice in every aspect of education. Education, according to Greene, was about people, about becoming. Greene furthered the educational conversation by helping teachers imagine a place for art and artistic process. Greene often repeated the phrase, "I am not yet" (Pinar, 1998). We are always not yet fully who we might be. We are all in a process of becoming who we are and art is the quintessential medium for exploring becoming.

Just as a natural scientist observes nature, attempting to find meaning in natural phenomena, Greene, Harrison, and Dissanayake observed art in an attempt to find patterns and meaning in the artifacts of imagination. Greene called on educators to mine works of art for the resonant truth, awkward beauty and complexity of goodness that can be found there. She wrote often of the liberating effects of making art in a classroom. Greene encouraged teachers to honor their own learning process in their teaching experiences.

The books that I wish Dewey had written, Democracy as Art and Art and Education, would have built on Dewey’s perception that art leads us into the future by engaging human beings in disciplined conversations with their own and others’ ontological conceptions. Dewey’s perception of democracy as a practical, rational attempt to live in ethical relationship with others, combined with his appreciation of art praxis, re-emerged, transformed, in the writing of Maxine Greene.

Art in Schools: Practice

At this time there is little research specifically on technology and art in schools. I have chosen several articles on art education issues that seem to me to be relevant to this study. Most of them are philosophically based on Eliot Eisner's influential work. Eisner, unwavering in his support for the arts in education, has written elegant responses to criticisms and has supplied practical solutions to seemingly intractable problems. Eisner (1998) wrote that participation in the arts improved student academic achievement. Even though Eisner's work has had a profound effect on national educational priorities, in many schools in the United States, art's position is precarious and remains dependent upon community support for its continued existence.

Art and Academic Performance

Joyce Riha Linik, in Picasso in the Wilderness (1999), reported that participation in art not only raised student test scores but participation in art caused a rise in self-esteem. In Gaining the Arts Literacy Advantage (1999), Laura Longley built on Eisner’s concept of assessable skills in the arts and the beneficial effects of arts practice on academic achievement. Longley asserted that art literacy consisted of a group of abilities that, in the aggregate, improved student learning, cognition, and educational achievement. She stated that all public schools should give students what she called "the arts literacy advantage".

Therese Quinn’s and Joseph Kahne’s article (2000), Wide Awake to the World: the Arts and Urban Schools. Conflicts and Contributions of an After-School Program (2000), reported their case study of a multi-year, after-school program whose effectiveness was undermined in part due to technical challenges and in part due to unaddressed conflicts regarding values. This study reported that the current national emphasis on standards and standardized testing has forced the elimination of the arts in many urban schools. Quinn and Kahne asserted that more policies and practices were needed that acknowledge the importance of art in education. Their report stated that nearly half the schools in the United States did not have full time art teachers.

In The Passionate Teacher and the Curriculum Police: Perspectives on Modes of Subjectivity and the Curriculum as Art (1999), Yaroslav Senyshyn reported that artists-in-the-schools, attempting to provide creative exploration, ran afoul of school staff who were emphasizing control, order, and academic achievement. Senyshin characterized this as a struggle between educational authoritarianism and creative freedom and suggested that the curriculum itself could be viewed as art and handled more creatively.

Many urban schools have been pressured by national testing regulations to improve their math and English curricula. When basic skills must be improved, time spent in art class can be seen as a waste of time. In these cases, the research reporting the beneficial effect of art education on general academic proficiency is unknown, disbelieved, or ignored.

Community Support

In Imagineering Future Learning Designs (2000), Don Glines reported that community attitudes had an influence on what was taught in schools. He suggested that the development of new person-centered social and educational paradigms were needed. Glines went on to state that what was needed, even more than new paradigms, were innovative leaders using imagineering. He described imagineering as a technique for co-imagining desirable futures and then working to create those futures.

Glines found that communities had to be supportive of the arts before schools accommodated the arts in their curriculum. His position was reinforced by findings reported in two articles by Harriet Maya Fulbright and Richard Deary, Make Room(s) for the Arts (1999) and The Arts Advantage (1999). Fulbright and Deary, in a two-year study of arts education in four states, found that community and district support were the most critical factors in the success of an arts curriculum.

My readings in art education research indicated that communities were the primary source of support for art programs and many studies revealed a beneficial relationship between participation in art and academic achievement. In every study I found reiterated the finding that, despite national support for art education, art's position in the academic curriculum is not secure.

Justice, Responsibility, and Care

Carol Gilligan’s work changed my life. In a Different Voice (1993) and Meeting at the Crossroads (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) articulated and delineated a critical difference between the way men and women used language and the way that men and women understood justice, responsibility, and care. Gilligan's articulation inspired me to value care as historical exigencies spurred me to search for social justice.

Moral Orientations

Gilligan’s premise was that men tended to prefer using generalized principles while women preferred to respond to particular circumstances when evaluating moral and ethical choices. Many objections have been raised against Gilligan’s assertion that gender is the primary reason for differences in moral perspectives. Rarely, however, have I read any objection to Gilligan’s assertions first, that people use two types of moral reasoning, or, second, that moral reasoning has two legitimate orientations. It has been argued that generalized perspectives are practiced in the public sphere while a focus on the particular is more applicable in the realm of the personal. Feminists have responded to that argument with considerable vehemence, claiming that the private sphere itself is an artifice of patriarchy (Benhabib, 1987) and, of course, it was feminists who made the argument that the personal is political (WMST, 1998).

Meeting at the Crossroads (Brown & Gilligan, 1992) described a group of female researchers in the process of studying girls’ transition into adolescence, whp learned to communicate more personally (which was interpreted by participants as more respectfully) with their research participants. In order to get the data they desired, the researchers had to abandon their original conversational approach to the young women (that of the objective expert observing dispassionately) and adopt a far more interactive and responsive conversational style. The researchers found that speaking respectfully and intimately to participants elicited the type of self-revealing anecdotes that the researchers had hoped to use for data; whereas an objective conversational stance produced stilted formality and resistance on the part of the youngsters.

The lessons I learned from this book have affected all my teaching activities and much of my personal and creative life. The assertion made in Meeting at the Crossroads was that professional language could mask and hinder, as well as reveal and facilitate. People asking questions could chase away the very knowledge they were seeking if they spoke in a manner that participants associated with power and authority. What is it about the assertion of power and authority in a conversation that silences the other? How can we speak intelligently without alienating those with whom we wish to speak?

Meeting at the Crossroads also examined the way young girls made choices to silence themselves; how girls took on specific cultural roles and along with those roles, a manner of speaking and relating. The researchers found that all the choices the girls made involved to one extent or another, the loss of their pre-adolescent honesty and clarity of speech. In particular, the researchers found that adolescent girls sacrificed their personal points of view in order to facilitate non-antagonistic, interpersonal relatedness.

In a Different Voice (1993) described Gilligan’s theory of dichotomous moral orientations. This book helped me understand the importance of speaking as close to my personal truth as I possibly could, regardless of the bewildered looks or angry rebuttals this occasionally provokes. Gilligan's books made it clear that speaking honestly was a socio-linguistic challenge whose outcome had significant philosophical, political, and personal impact.

Care in Particular

Women’s sensitivity to particulars, whether socially conditioned or biologically determined, affects how we handle social reality, and political and moral choice. Nel Noddings was the theorist who first brought the ethic of care into educational literature (Noddings, 1981; Raywid, 1981). The ethic of care is a principle that educators may choose to assume whereby they take responsibility for their share of the affect in an educational situation. The ethic of care, Noddings was careful to point out, did not require educators to love students in the same way that they loved their own children. However, the ethic of care did require educators to accept co-responsibility for feeling states that were generated in educational situations.

Noddings’ concept of interpersonal responsibility was further illuminated by Lisa Goldstein in her book, Teaching with Love (1997). Goldstein’s narrative revealed the ethic of care, as practiced in a specific early education classroom, to consist of complex, non-trivial, and anything-but-stereotypical encounters and attitudes. One of Goldstein’s points was that, because care was, by definition, something that occurred between real people in real time, it would always be unique. Each participant, each researcher, each reader, must take the responsibility to reflect on her own values - and represent those values with consideration and respect for others. Theoretically, because the ethic of care is embedded in a relational architecture of experience, every genuine example of this ethic ought to involve a unique challenge to some of the researcher’s plans and preconceptions.

The Ethic of Care and Social Justice

In her book Maternal Thinking (1989), Sarah Ruddick shared her philosophical extension of the ethic of care. Ruddick interpreted care as a form of justice and moral responsibility that came about through the practice of mothering. In Ruddick's view, mothering was not a gendered activity and could be done by men or by women. Mothering was caretaking, a labor, a praxis. Mothering generated, as all praxis will, its own language and value system particular to the necessities of its practical application.

Ruddick extended the theory of moral responsibility and the ethic of care by showing how the practice of mothering could be generalized to the principles fundamental to Gandhi's philosophy of peace action. Ruddick extended the concept of mothering and the ethic of care by joining these with the formulations of rule-based, public, international, political, peace activism.

The ethic of care does not have to be understood as in opposition to a principle-based ethic. To dichotomize the specific and the general and to separate the personal (private) experience from shared (political, social) experience is unjustified because in lived experience these experiences are part of a continuum. Gilligan’s assertion that there were two moral orders is a perception that can be traced back to Kant. Gilligan's justice orientation is what Kant described as pure reason. Gilligan's care orientation was the first internally consistent articulation of what Kant called "the moral imperative."

I view the practice of a situation-based ethic of care in education as an addition to, or an extension of, adherence to principle-based rules, generalized guidelines, and state and federal laws. An ethic of care takes as fact that the emotive content and the affective context of conversations will always affect not only the interpretation of events but the substance of their occurrence. An ethic of care is in no way inimical to rule-based justice and it is a mistake to see it as such. Care and justice occur on a continuum of moral understanding.

Adult Education

Realistically, entering a high school as a technology consultant and a university-based researcher put me in the role of an adult educator. This section will address some of the research on adult education that was applicable to this study.

Autonomous learning and independent thinking have been the hallmarks of the epistemology of adult education. Often, experts in the adult education field have been practitioners and the literature is filled with practical advice on the best ways to teach adults (Brookfield 1987a, 1987b, 1995; Brosio, 2000; Daloz, 1986; Freire, 1970a, 1993; Lindeman, 1926; Mezirow, 1991; Race, 1993). Brookfield (1987a) identified four main elements to adult education: experiential learning, learning to learn, self-directed learning, and critical reflection. (See Appendix D for an overview of Eduard Lindeman's contribution to theories of adult education.)

Many adult learning theorists have agreed that discussion is a key factor in the success of adult education programs. The sort of discussion that adult educators described as beneficial was a co-equal engagement in a process of self-discovery. Many adult educators and educational theorists have written that citizenship in a participatory democracy included the right and the responsibility to share ideas and skills in a public arena. These same theorists have asserted that a facility for critical thinking and an ability to engage creatively in discussions are both necessary skills for citizens to participate fully in a democracy (Apple, 1979; Brookfield, 1995; Brosio, 2000; Freire & Faundez, 1989; Freire, 1998; McLaughlin & Tierney, 1993; Tarrant, 1989, 2000, 2001).

Self-Actualization and Self-Determination

Discussion and conversation, as tools for intrapersonal growth, have been investigated from many angles in the field of psychology. This section explores Third Force psychology, and the applicability of two of its main theorists’ ideas and experiences, Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, to the field of adult (teacher) education.

Maslow (1968) coined the phrase, "Third Force psychology," and defined the interpersonal and relational as the arena of its investigations. According to Maslow, Freudian psychology investigated internal states, Behavioral psychology studied observable behavior, and Third Force psychology explored interpersonal dynamics. The elements of Third Force psychology discussed here will be self-determination and the existence of an intrinsic motivation towards self-actualization and self-organization.

Maslow (1955, 1968, 1971) developed a theory of becoming based on what he called self-actualization theory. According to Maslow, psychology research had focused attention primarily on the pathological, leaving the definition of psychological health as simply the lack of pathology. In order to provide practitioners and individuals with a way to guide themselves and others, Maslow conceptualized a model of psychological health. According to Maslow’s theory, everyone has an intrinsic need to develop, to self-actualize. The core schema in Maslow’s conceptualization of psychological health and self-actualization was a hierarchy of needs. In this hierarchy, needs are divided into two major categories, B-needs and D-needs. Satisfaction of basic, D-needs comes before the satisfaction of being, B-needs. The D in D-needs, stands for deficiency. D-needs are motivated by insufficiency.

D-needs, in hierarchical order, are the needs for: 1) physiological maintenance; 2) safety; 3) belongingness; and 4) esteem. D-needs increase when they were thwarted, while B-needs increase when they were satisfied. The B in B-needs, stand for being. The B-needs, in hierarchical order, are the need for: 1) knowledge; 2) aesthetic awareness/pleasure; and 3) transcendence from ego-based rationality towards the realization (actualization) of interpersonal potentials in the personality.

There is no stasis point in Maslow’s model. A self-actualizing person is engaged in a process of becoming, bringing to mind, Maxine Greene's signature phrase, "I am, not yet" (Pinar, 1998). Note that Maslow defined needs, not as pathological but as the basis for the development of psychological health.

Maslow and Rogers were both adult educators. Maslow taught at Brooklyn College and then at Brandeis University. Rogers taught at Ohio State, the University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin. Although Maslow wrote his theory of self-actualization from the point of view of a clinical psychologist, his early training was in experimental, physiologically-based psychology. Rogers came to clinical psychology from theology. Maslow's theoretical emphasis was on the individual's intrinsic motivation to grow. Rogers' focus was on interpersonal relationships’ influences on individual amd group self-realization.

Rogers (1967, 1980) was a clinical and educational psychologist. At Teacher’s College, Columbia University, Rogers studied with W.H. Kilkpatrick, a student of John Dewey’s (whose doctoral dissertation was in psychology). Rogerian therapy is client-centered and non-directive. Rogers stated that it is crucial to perceive clients with positive regard. Rogers' idea was that interpersonal positive regard would become internalized as positive self-regard. Note the similarity between Rogers’ concept and the interpersonal dynamics of Vygotsky's theory of language acquisition, whereby interpersonal discourse becomes internalized as intrapersonal thought.

Rogers' later work (1980) emphasized the mutuality of development between clients and professionals. His assertion was that he had to avoid playing a distanciated role of expert and acknowledge his true self if he was to be fully present as a human being in interaction with someone else. And, reminiscent of Martin Buber's (1958, 1977) I and Thou theory and Freire’s groundbreaking work (1970b), Rogers reported that clients are more likely to actualize themselves when the relationship with their therapist (counselor, teacher) was egalitarian and open.

Rogers insisted that people were capable of finding their own solutions. Rogers saw his role as continuing in a conversational relationship with people without telling them what to do. In his experiments with groups, he was able to show that human beings are capable of organizing themselves into functional and healthy systems. Situation-based, constructivist, and discovery learning models are based on similar principles. These schools of thought have all proposed that knowledge gained in autonomous activity, especially if the activity is relevant to participants and includes conversation that stimulates higher-order thinking, is more resilient than learning methods based on efficiency models of information transfer.

Conversants generally define their roles in a given conversation in alignment with the role that they play not only in the specific conversation but also in the social organization in which, or about which, the conversation takes place. According to systems theory, social organizations are living systems in which individuals interacting, influence the system as a whole (Bertalanffy, 1975; Bateson, 1972; Miller, 1995; Mink, 1993c, 1994, 1998, 2000). Theoretically, a change agent can use conversation as a tool to initiate and maintain a change process.


This section will continue to explore the literature on conversation and change, emphasizing the vital role that conversation can play in cognitive development and social change. The theorists whose work I will be considering are John Shotter, Lev Vygotsky, Ilya Prigogine, Kurt Lewin, and Paul Ricoeur.

Conversational Reality

John Shotter’s explication (1984, 1989, 1993a, 1993b) of the dynamics of conversational reality and social ecology created a new practical-theoretic for research in the social sciences. Shotter proposed that conversations are the principle means through which people re-create, reinforce, reinvent, and reinvest in their reality. Shotter’s writing opened up the possibility of researching second order change, brought about by conversations in learning and work environments.

Shotter's contribution to my theoretical understanding of the value of conversation was immense. Shotter reported that both Vygotsky and Prigogine were influential to his thinking. I will briefly discuss the aspects of these theorists' work that inspired Shotter's conversational reality theory and his social ecology theory.

Shotter was influenced by Vygotsky’s (1934/1962, 1925/1971, 1993) assertion that language was the tool culture used to create itself. In Thought and Language (1934/1962), Vygotsky delineated the process he considered to be the origination of thought. In Vygotsky’s view, internalized thought emerges as a result of dialogic interactions. Shotter built on this fundamental idea. Specifically, Shotter showed that the way people speak to one another in select educational and work environments reveals their underlying social assumptions, and also, even more relevant to my study, the way that people speak to one another, affects how people think and act in relation to themselves, each other, and their work.

Shotter's social ecology concept was influenced by Prigogine’s (1979, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1996) work on chaos and complexity. Shotter (1993b) defined a diverse and complex dynamic he called "social ecology" as an inter-relationship of a plethora of intersecting conversations. Shotter asserted that Prigogine's chemistry theories could be applied to the analysis of social systems because the objects of analysis in both chemistry and society are organic systems. In order to more fully appreciate Shotter's concept of social ecology, I will briefly explore Prigogine's contributions to theoretical and practical science.

Prigogine won the Nobel Prize in 1977 for his work in chemistry. I was able to interview Prigogine as part of this study on May 14, 2001, in his office at UT, Austin. The first thing that Dr. Prigogine said to me at the start of the interview was, "The question I have always been interested in is this: Are we in it or not?" What he was referring to and continued to elucidate was that theoretical positions had been taken in the interests of objectivity that had led to fallacious mathematical and philosophical stances. In particular, the unidirectionality of time that defines a parameter of life experience was ignored by mathematical equations in favor of "reversible time." Reversible time made cleaner, more efficient math but Prigogine showed that only time during which organic life grew and changed, that is, unidirectional time, is useful in the analysis and prediction of living behavior.

According to Prigogine, in living systems every moment is qualitatively and quantitatively different after each interaction that takes place in the system. Process equations must take into consideration that the foundation, the context of any process, changes during the course of the event. In Prigogine’s view, every initial state holds within itself a multitude of factors that have greater or lesser statistical probability of occurring. Although, in most cases a process will stay within a range of possible outcomes determined by initial conditions, process behavior is essentially unpredictable.

Shotter's social ecology theory acknowledged that individuals always act contextually. The dynamic life of social context can be characterized as an ecology. Social forms take shape through discourse and the actions of individuals (conversational reality) and discourse is shaped by the intricate balance of group process within the containing social structures (social ecology).

Shotter's concept of social ecology is not unlike Kurt Lewin’s (1935, 1936, 1948, 1951) formative field theory of psychology and social dynamics. Lewin, considered the originator of action research, proposed that individuals are embedded in fields where forces act on them and within them. According to Lewin, a social change agent’s responsibility is to analyze the forces acting on individuals and, if possible, ameliorate the effects of forces acting negatively (or, even better, remove the source of the negative forces) and support those forces cooperating with the individual needs, goals, and the change process.

According to Prigogine, living systems have inherent patterns and will follow those patterns until an anomaly is introduced. After the introduction of a new phenomenon, the system will fluctuate until it finds a new sustainable pattern for growth. According to Shotter, social systems are aggregates of individual lives interacting, creating larger, living systems.

Interpreting, We Meet on the Horizon

Ricoeur (1986, 1991, 1992) evolved his way of reasoning from his ecclesiastical training in hermeneutics. Hermeneutics has evolved from an ancient form of textual analysis, biblical exegesis. The premise of biblical exegesis was that holy texts required reinterpretation. Ongoing interpretation was necessary because human conditions change, and although holy words remain holy, their application to changing human circumstances must be reinterpreted to suit new circumstances. Ricoeur has developed hermeneutics beyond the exegetical, reinterpreting the discipline as a postmodern creation of text and textual exploration.

Ricoeurian hermeneutics is an interpretive analysis that is also a synthesis. Ricoeur's books illustrate a methodology for bringing concepts that appear to be inimical, or polarized, together into a dynamic realization of their holistic synergy. With an intricate, recursive style of reasoning, Ricoeur has interpreted seemingly discordant conceptualizations as working towards a greater harmony. Ricoeur has employed a standard hermeneutic technique, the hermeneutic circle, in his own unique fashion. Usually, his analysis began with a particular stance, an understanding, a statement, or a concept. As he communicated this originating idea, he took on the role of reader, of questionner, and thus, of interpreter. The idea then evolves ever so slightly.

The giddiness I had reading books by Ricoeur came each time from the gradual realization that there were several layers of hermeneutic circles going on at once. There was Ricoeur's own traversal of a hermeneutic circle (that of reader and interpreter). There was also myself as reader, interpreting the work of Ricoeur. There were often several detours describing other theorists' interpretations of (writings on) the theme. The most exciting part of Ricoeur's method for me was that the ideas in his text were themselves in an interpretive evolution with each other. This relationship of the seemingly disparate ideas became apparent towards the close of each book, as Ricoeur brought his intricate weaves of reasoning to a close with a broad view of the entire tapestry in which all the previous ideas, opinions, and arguably, contrary assumptions were exhibited as part of an ecology of meaning.

Where the reaching called "expression" meets the reaching called "comprehension," Ricoeur has called "the horizon." Interpretation happens on the horizon. We meet each other on the horizon. Ricoeur's metaphor of the horizon of mutual creation and interpretation is not unlike Shotter's view that we create our reality through our ongoing participation in conversations.

The Postmodern Conversation

Action research, the ethic of care, Ricoeur's hermeneutics, even Prigogine's chaos theory have antecedents that go back hundreds of years. This literature review has been concerned with the inter-relatedness of the roots of all these theories. This section attempts to convey how these theories with their roots in a humanist past extend into contemporary postmodernism. And, by bringing us to the present, this section serves also as the conclusion to this literature review.

Postmodernism means many things to many people today. Interestingly, the most famous elements of postmodernism seem diametrically opposed: deconstruction and ethical inclusionism. Generally, postmodern is a label that is applied to any work that in any way questions the values, ideologies, premises or assumptions of modernism.

Modernism was the action-cum-philosophy that had a major impact on, or described the nature of, western civilization as it was in the late 19th and for most of 20th century. Postmodernism emerged once modernism's premises were clear enough for an articulation of a coherent, alternative position. Critiques of modernism began, of course, with its inception. However, the development of articulated historical critiques takes time and the work of generations of thinkers. Modernism's stated goals were: cultural progress, industrial efficiency, clarity (or simplicity) and scientific truth (i.e. empirical validity).

The critique of modernism exposed some of its underlying mechanisms such as cultural hegemony, manipulations of ideology (from my point of view, a particularly heinous example of manipulated ideology was fascism; while a particularly useful example of manipulated ideology was labor unionism), money used in place of force (economic imperialism), capitalism, and later commercialism. This last ideology has only been occasionally pointed out as an ideology adversely affecting education, notably by James Tarrant (2000, 2001).

The realization that knowledge is embedded in and derives from experience is essential to the deconstructionist vision. Deconstructionists elucidate ways that ideologies arise out of praxis and then are manipulated to alter society for the benefit of elites. Conversational reality and the ethic of care owe a great deal to this type of deconstructionist thought. Conversational reality theory is part of a broader, multi-cultural deconstruction of the hegemonic concept of a given, unchanging reality. The ethic of care is an articulation of a broad, multi-cultural deconstruction of the hegemonic concept of a perfect, immutable justice.

I find it helpful to distinguish between the deconstruction of an ideology and its destruction. Deconstruction does not destroy an ideology. Deconstruction is an analysis, an interpretation of an ideology in order to empower ourselves to alter our conceptions of its schemata to better suit our actual needs. The building metaphor inherent in the word deconstruction is apt because the mentality underlying the activity is quite a bit like drawing up engineering plans of an existing building in order to decide whether to rebuild, redesign, or renovate.

Inclusionism and the concurrent movement towards diversity are only occasionally acknowledged as essential to a postmodern ethics (Bauman, 1993, 1995). However, neither inclusion nor diversity were part of the modernist agenda and both arose from significant modernist failures to cope with issues of equity and democratic representation therefore I assert that inclusion and diversity are intrinsic elements of a postmodern sensibility.

The themes of this literature review - the ethical imperative to create egalitarian relationships to fulfill the responsibility of democratic education, the challenge of integrating technology and art (creative and critical thinking) in a curriculum, and the unique role conversation plays in social change - are all postmodern themes.

What this study sought to examine was a postmodern, relational, democratic, conversational, process of social change in an educational environment. This literature review was an attempt to locate my study in a thick, historically rich, complex world of postmodern, qualitative research.

The literature in this review indicated that the inherent fallacy of a polarization of art and science could be handled with a combination of deconstruction and inclusion; that is, art and science could be brought together (inclusion, one with the other) if the ideological structures of their epistemologies could be deconstructed and rearchitected. However, the literature also suggested that, for any deconstruction or rearchitecting to be long-lasting and effective, it would have to be accomplished collaboratively, democratically, through co-agentic conversation immersed in unconditional positive regard for all participants.

The democratic principle that people are the means and the ends of education, art, experience, and democracy was a tenet of Dewey's revered work in the field of education. Dewey, ever the poet, was ahead of his time in his ability to perceive the breadth of possibility in democracy, the breadth of possibility of education to buttress and even create democracy, the breadth of art to have inspired all human activity and finally, the depth of experience to be the one fundamental element in all human endeavor.

The literature revealed that conversations are hard work, co-creations wherein participants stretch themselves towards one another and towards a shared future. By concentrating on conversations, I support an interactive view of reality. In my view, a variety of personal perspectives are not inimical to a healthy human environment but conducive to a vital social ecology. The literature implied that conversation could affect minds and hearts, creating new initial conditions conducive to change. I sought to explore a concrete educational situation, the integration of technology into a curriculum, sensitive to the role conversation plays in social change.

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