IMPROVISATION IN TEACHING PROFESSION: AN EMBODIED APPROACH FOR INQUIRY
Università degli studi di Milano - Bicocca, Italy
This abstract presents the main features of a PhD research project which is developing in different scholastic contexts in Lombardy (Italy). Its aim is to describe the phenomenon of improvisation in teaching, namely the ability of teachers to grasp what’s in the here-and-now of children contribute and environmental situation, realizing creative connections between their original intention and what is given from the world around. This posture is fundamental whenever a pedagogical action aims to take into account children as active participants of learning process, since none of democratic teaching methodology can overlook what comes spontaneously from children and reality. The perspective of this study is to describe improvisation focalizing teachers’ bodies: their tensions, movements, gazes and locations in the space of the classroom when unforeseen elements emerge in the pedagogical relationship.
Improvisation is increasingly considered an inherent part of teaching, as evidenced by a growing interest in literature in the last 20 years. The axes of research in this topic are nowadays directed towards teacher training or theoretical understandings, while there are less contributions oriented to describe what actually happens in classrooms. This lack of literature manifests the need for an understanding rooted in schools’ reality, in qualitative studies where teachers are considered active sources of knowledge.
The epistemological framework of Embodied Pedagogy , which enhances the sense perception and the holistic participation of body, mind and emotions in educational contexts, informs this study, besides the theory of educational dispositive . This study aims to enrich the understanding of the pedagogical value of the bodily presence of teachers.
In order to embrace an embodied perspective towards the complex phenomenon of improvisation in teaching, I opted for a qualitative approach, expressed by an ontological position which can be considered phenomenological, and a methodology which comprehends ethnography, visual ethnography  and arts-based methods . My axiology, lastly, entails a vision of schools as democratic and collaborative contexts.
The research currently involves 5 teachers of two schools of different grades, located in two provinces in Lombardy. From a starting slot of observations for each teacher, the study entails a following phase where teachers are involved in an improvisational theatre training, where they’ll discuss their insights about their embodied participation in improvised moments in classrooms and in the training experience. Also, interviews will be performed for data triangulation.
Eventually, the epoch where this study takes place opens new questions and possibilities, such as, despite the spatial and movement restrictions imposed by the pandemic, how teachers’ bodily presence is affected and how they find ways to improvise pedagogically building contexts and activities where children are protagonists.
 Gamelli, I., Pedagogia del corpo, Cortina, Milano 2011
 Ferrante, A., Che cos’è un dispositivo pedagogico, Franco Angeli, Milano 2017
 Tobin, J., Hayashi, A., Using video for microanalysis of teachers’ embodied pedagogical practices, Research in Comparative and International Education, 10(3), pp. 326-336
 Mc Niff, S., Arts-Based Research, in Knowles, C.J., Cole L., Handbook of the Arts in Qualitative Research, SAGE Publications, 2007
MUSICAL LANGUAGE IN MONTESSORI EDUCATION: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH FROM THE SOCIOLOGY OF MUSIC EDUCATION
Università Roma Tre, Italy
The sociology of music education is a very recent research field, focused on the educational contribution of musical language.
In this research area, most contributions suggest a new discourse on the educational action of and with music. In this frame, music is not just a symbolic resource for classifying and evaluating the students, or an exclusive heritage of the cultural elite. Moreover, music education is not only aimed at a professional career. On the contrary, music is a central device to develop the sensorial, emotional, social and intellectual potential of students as well as the starting point for inclusive and democratic education (Wright, 2010).
In this perspective, we carried out research on how “music comes into action” (DeNora, 2000) in a Montessorian educational context. Maria Montessori ascribed to music education a prominent role within her pedagogical framework. In her words: “Music can touch us in a way that nothing else can. No better gift can we give to the children than to open this door for them.”
In Montessori pedagogy, music is a sensory experience, based on body learning activities. Music education has to focus on the interaction between a child’s body and educational environment. Children have an “absorbent mind” and have the ability to take things in from their environment. Teachers are engaged, above all, in providing “materiality” to musical learning, either through “brief initiations” to sensory objects (bells, tone-bars, sound cylinders, etc.) or by preparing the classroom’s physical space for sensory exploration. In traditional music teaching, a notional and technical dimension prevails. Students learn the names of notes in lines and spaces, without any connection to sensory experience and movement. In a Montessorian perspective, the educational space is constructed to link sound to movement. In this context, music becomes the expressive language through which children explore themselves, their bodies and their environment.
In order to better analyse Montessori educational practices in the field of music, we have carried out ethnographic research on a case study represented by one of the few public schools, situated in Rome, in which the Montessori methodology constitutes the qualifying and identifying feature. Here we present the first reflections that have emerged from the analysis of the interviews with the music education teachers.
DeNora T. (2000), Music in Everyday Life, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge-New York.
Maccheroni A.M. (1955), Orecchio, voce, occhio, mano, 2a ed., Vita dell’Infanzia, Roma.
Montessori M. (1948a), La mente del bambino, Garzanti, Milano 2013.
Wright R. (ed.) (2010), Sociology and Music Education, Routledge, London-New York.
THE AESTHETIC THINKING. RECONNECTING THE SUBJECT WITH THE REALITY, THE SOCIETY AND THE COSMOS.
Università degli studi di Macerata, Italy
In Bion’s opinion (1962) the dreaming represents the fundamental organisative form of the emotional and mental experience. Therefore, people dreams even while awake. This paper will be argued that the basic form of thought is the aesthetic one because it allows us to give meaning to our basic experience of reality, which is above all emotional (something is always loved or hated, favorable or hostile, understandable or mysterious). Through aesthetic transformation this latter acquires that degree of generality without which there would be no civilization (Whitehead, 1938). The primary human experience aesthetically evolves into a further “mentalized” experience because the complex web of presymbolic operations (resonances, rhythms, transmodal interactions) and feedback between subject and reality is prolongued into ever more sophisticated plots, up to the abstraction of thought: “knowledge is a product of art” (Dewey, 1929, p. 382). The “cognitive” dimension of art, however, must not obscure its ability to touch the primordial meaning of being alive and it is for this reason that art is related to the sacred and the religious (Dewey, 1934). It allows us to realize that the “beauty is a grand fact in the universe” (Whitehead, 1938, p. 164). Starting from the “elementary contents of human life”, from which we must never detach on pain of insignificance, art makes man “aware of what it means to be alive. There is no other final goal for this life” (Arnheim, 1969, pp. 417-419). Art testifies the understanding life process carried out by a civilization. So, Hegel suggests looking at works of art to understand a people.
The current socio-cultural context, however, does not allow to see art as an anthropologically foundational experience of the man-world-society relationship, reducing it to a form of self-expression or, worse, to a commodity capable of offering entertainment. In fact, on the one hand, the post-modern era does not believe that life can produce “organic forms” with their own spiritual content, on which the romantic idea of art as a “living form” was based; on the other hand, capitalism has contributed to seeing the artwork as a commodity endowed with sensory or cognitive excitement capacities for the benefit of a subject conceived as an individual isolated from the social context to which he belongs and consigned to his own autonomous mental operations. Result of neoliberal ideology influence on education systems, the school tends to propose a split between socio-emotional and performative-meritocratic aspects, attributing the emotional-expressive dimension to art, but not the cognitive one, impoverishing its transformative scope and its contributing to a collective feeling (so important for substantial democracy).
Using a critical-argumentative methodology, this study intends to re-credit the not only emotional, but also cognitive, social and spiritual value of the aesthetic experience.
Whitehead, A.N. (1938), Modes of Thought, New York, Macmillan.
Dewey, J. (1929), Experience and Nature, London, George Allen & Unwin.
Dewey, J. (1934), Art as Experience, New York, Minton, Balch & Company.
Arnheim, R. (1966), Verso una psicologia dell’arte, Torino, Einaudi, 1969.
EPISTEMOLOGIES OF THE SOUTH FOR RE-IMAGINING EDUCATION. THE ARTIST PERSPECTIVE
Sapienza University of Rome, Italy
How community-based artistic practices contribute to transforming the pedagogical experience into a dimension of mutual trust and reciprocal care? Which paths do contemporary artists imagine and pursue in order to decolonize those aspects of canonical education that tend to create power and hegemony?
A Sud dell’Immaginazione/South of Imagination by artist Valerio Rocco Orlando is the main source for expanding these issues into a broader analysis on education as an emotional, experiential, intellectual manufact encouraging the society towards its self-reflexive transformation. By acknowledging in the sociocultural horizon of the Global South the resource necessary to create an unconventional educational experience, the project deepens the student-teacher interpersonal relationship according to a transformative living knowledge that, while re-imagining education and nourishing deep socialization, pollinates an alternative pedagogical experience in Matera, Southern Italy. Away from the economic vulgata that rates it as marginal, the Epistemologies of the South by Boaventura de Sousa Santos recognizes the southern sociocultural space as the restorative basin of ignored knowledges retaining the transformative seeds to regenerate our understanding of the world. This direction recalls Antonio Gramsci’s Questione meridionale problematization of the mechanisms controlling authentic knowledge–transfer processes. By involving the independent and multidisciplinary communities of artists Adrian Paci in Shkodër (Art House), Wael Shawky in Alexandria (MASS), Yto Barrada in Tangier (Cinémathèque de Tanger), the artist and Nomas Foundation carry out a series of workshops aimed to constitute a pedagogical action able to draw on the unconventional knowledges of the southern multicultural demo-diversities. Within such a process-based, inclusive, and participative research, the project intends to promote an anti-neoliberalist pedagogy able to create social space for subjectivity, hybridity, pluralism, mobility, and otherness. Results of these workshops are the basis for establishing an independent art school in Matera in a state-owned building that the Municipality has granted the artist for the next thirty years.
Under the scientific direction of Nomas Foundation and fully funded by Italian Council MiBACT, the research has also built up a community of partners hosting talks, screening, workshop on the project: Accademia di Brera (Milan), Aix-Marseille Université (Marseille), Al Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary (Jerusalem), Arab Image Foundation (Beirut), Atelier Kissaria (Tangier), Casco Art Institute (Utrecht), CCA (Derry), CCA (Tel Aviv), CENTEX Centro de Extensión del Ministerio de las Culturas, las Artes y el Patrimonio (Valparaíso), Istituto Italiano di Cultura al Cairo (Cairo), Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center (Ramallah), MSSA Museo de la Solidaridad Salvador Allende (Santiago de Chile), Museo del Novecento (Milan), Museu Nacional Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro), MUSMA Museo della Scultura Contemporanea di Matera (Matera), New Art Exchange (Nottingham), PAC Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (Milan), PDP Miroslaw Balka Studio of Spatial Activities (Warsaw). In partnership with the Unit of Research Aesthetics in the Social, DiSSE Sapienza University of Rome, a series of laboratories, reading rooms, seminars on the sociological aspects of the project. In 2022, Parsons The New School (New York) will hold a symposium dedicated to the project.
ART AS A DIDACTIC TOOL: "THE BAUHAUS 2.0" DIGITAL WORKSHOP
1Università di Salerno, Italia; 2Università Telematica Internazionale “UniNettuno” – Roma, Italia
Starting from Dewey's theories and his concepts of school as a "means of social reconstruction", "pedagogical activism", "miniature community" and "school-workshop", the Bauhaus school of art (1919-1933) was avant-garde not only in contents, but also in teaching methodologies. Its founder, Gropius, believed that the objective of the Bauhaus was to achieve social progress and improve human life through art.
The similarity between Dewey and Gropius is even clearer in the principle of learning by doing, which was applied to all the Bauhaus courses and led students to gain a highly practical experience.
The pandemic has accelerated the digitization process of Italian school, this context is the starting point of the present research, which aims to create educational digital workshops for primary and secondary school pupils. Such workshops follow the methods and contents of the Bauhaus.
“Bauhaus 2.0” is divided into 8 modules. Each module can be used as a single experience or as a step of the course. Each module follows the contents and teaching methodologies of the experimentation conducted within the German art school:
1) Knowledge of the artistic avant-garde: an approach to the context in which the Bauhaus was founded;
2) Theory of colors: starting from the research on the interactions among colors carried out by the painter Albers, students will be led to develop these interactions and to understand their dynamics;
3) Elements of composition: the experiments on collages and photoplastics, carried out by Bayer and Moholy-Nagy, will help students understand the importance of each element of a photographic and pictorial composition; thanks to what they have learnt, they will be able to create their own compositions;
4) Discovery of materials: just as the students of the Bauhaus attended the workshops of materials (Werklehre), so the students of "Bauhaus 2.0" will learn about the different materials they use in everyday life;
5) Relationship between the human figure and space: Schlemmer's studies on the human figure will be very useful for students to gain awareness of their own corporeity;
6) Relationship between words and images: television, advertising and social networks are more and more present in the daily life of young people, who will therefore have the opportunity to understand the foundations of such media, starting from the studies by Bayer;
7)- Relationship between interior and exterior: the glass and concrete buildings designed by Gropius will be an opportunity to reflecton the concepts of interiority and exteriority from the point of view of both architecture and identity;
8) Bauhaus toys: the masters of the Bauhaus believed that society should have an aesthetic education and for this reason they created numerous toys, which will be recreated in a digital key in "Bauhaus 2.0".
Following the teaching method of learning by doing, "Bauhaus 2.0" places students at the center of the learning process. Based on the principles of avant-garde and experimentation, "Bauhaus 2.0" appears to be a digital workshop that aims to exploit all the potentialities of technological tools, so that students can have a real workshop experience.
THE PROCESS OF CROSSBREEDING IN CONTEMPORARY ARTISTIC PRODUCTION. NEW ROUTES IN AESTHETIC EDUCATION
Università di Macerata, Italy
Il mondo dell'arte è spesso negli studi interculturali per decifrare i processi di utilizzo culturale (Welsch, 2017). Per i teorici del métissage, tra i quali saranno presi in considerazione nel contributo É. Glissant (2007), F. Laplantine e A. Nouss (1997), S. Gruzinski (2008), le differenze non devono essere né annullate né assolutizzate: le culture infatti non sono entità statiche, ben delimitate tra loro e omogenee con le loro fenomeni interni, ma piuttosto plurali in perenne movimento, attraversati da continue tensioni, relazioni e scambi reciproci (Appadurai, 2012; Hannerz, 1996; Welsch, 1999).
Se Hegel affermava che per comprendere comprendere una cultura è necessarioe sua arte, tale affermazione può essere trasposta nei contest di contaminazione transculturale. In questo contesto, l'elaborazione estetica esprime bene la dinamica dell'intreccio tra gli aspetti materiali e spirituali delle culture nel loro incontro. W. Welsch parla inoltre di una "universalità della bellezza" che riguarda non solo l'esperienza estetica, ma anche l'apprezzamento, in ogni cultura, di alcune specifiche "forme di bellezza". Oltre a quelli naturalistici (il paesaggio, il corpo umano) e figurativi (la sezione aurea), c'è la bellezza "mozzafiato" che, sottolineandone la transculturalità, sembra spiegarsi con una più integrale, olistica attivazione dell'attività umana mente (Welsch , 2017).
L'arte si rapporta al mondo offrendo a tutti l'opportunità di una verità umana che non può essere rappresentata in termini razionali, ma resa accessibile in termini esistenziali le varie forme di “narratologia” e di riflettere sui grandi temi della soggetti.
Questo contributo si propone quindi di guardare alle arti come spazio discorsivo privilegiato per indagare le vie di un possibile paradigma rappresentativo alternativo e un nuovo modo di educare/formare l'essere-nel-mondo. L'intenzione è quella di delineare un curriculum didattico di tipo estetico, trasversale, avvalendosi anche dell'analisi di alcune opere scelte dalla letteratura delle migrazioni, dal cinema transculturale e dalle arti performative prodotte tra il 1995 e il 2020. Si tratta di testimonianze quasi ignorate da la grande distribuzione dell'industria culturale. Da essi emerge un modello ricco di beneficiari sia estetiche che pedagogiche che permette di comprendere come la produzione artistica es prima il carattere dinamico delle identità culturali, il loro essere "aperte"
Appadurai A., (2012), Modernità in polvere , Milano, Raffaello Cortina.
Glissant É. (2007), Poetica della relazione , Macerata, Quodlibet.
Gruzinski S. (2008), a cura di, Planète métisse , Arles, Musée du Quai Branly, Actes Sud.
Laplantine F., Nouss A. (2006), Il pensiero meticcio , Milano, Elèuthera, 2006.
Hannerz U. (1996), Connessioni transnazionali: culture, persone, luoghi , Londra, Routledge.
Welsch W. (1999), Transculturalità: la forma sconcertante delle culture oggi . In Id., Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World , London, Mike Featherstone e Scott Lash.
Welsch W. (2017), Cambio di rotta. Nuove vie dell'estetica , Palermo, Estetica.