Claude Monet

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Beauty in Science and Art

In this fascinating discussion on Forum for Philosophy, Adrian Holme, Milena Ivanova and Jonathan Birch discussed questions surrounding the nature of beauty, and the role of beauty in the relationship between science and art.

Jonathan Birch, the host, started the discussion by posing the following questions: We know that nature inspires art, but can abstract science inspire art? What counts as beautiful science? What’s the significance of beauty in science? Is beauty a guide to truth?

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Success and failure of the sociology of culture? Bringing the arts back

This articles brings up the most recent, internal discussions among researchers in the field of the sociology of arts, more precisely the thiking of experts who participated in a forum of culture organized in 2001. In her writing, Vera Zolberg accentuates, overall, the need for sociology of art to retain both its humanistic and scientific roots. She reminds that sociology of culture has developed from the sociology of art in recent decades. Next, she summarizes the tendencies and interests of researchers in the forum, by showing the fluidity of its possibilities and creative capacities. She mentions the most recent production in the field, proving that aesthetic elements play a crucial part in the sociological studies about the arts. According to Vera Zolberg, it is time to bring the arts back.

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Group Music Training and Children’s Prosocial Skills

We investigated if group music training in childhood is associated with prosocial skills. Children in 3rd or 4th grade who attended 10 months of music lessons taught in groups were compared to a control group of children matched for socio-economic status. All children were administered tests of prosocial skills near the beginning and end of the 10-month period. Compared to the control group, children in the music group had larger increases in sympathy and prosocial behavior, but this effect was limited to children who had poor prosocial skills before the lessons began. The effect was evident even when the lessons were compulsory, which minimized the role of self-selection. The results suggest that group music training facilitates the development of prosocial skills.

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Fostering Children and Adolescents’ Creative Thinking in Education. Theoretical Model of Drama Pedagogy Training

Drama Pedagogy Training (DPT), as other drama-based pedagogies, has been related to several outcomes, including creativity enhancement. This enhancement is commonly proven through the measurement of different creative processes. In our review we systematize characteristics, activities and techniques of DPT that are assumed to be related to creativity in order to have a more comprehensive framework to identify the specific DPT elements that are involved in the enhancement of some of the creative processes of children and adolescents. To this end, we identified five creative processes in experimental studies using DPT: divergent thinking, fantasy and imagination, associative thinking, symbolization, and problem solving. These processes were cross referenced with DPT characteristics, activities, and techniques that were argued to be related to creativity enhancement. Our review will propose a model with two main categories and six elements as follows: (1) technical drama phases which emphasizes the role of narrative and embodiment through (a) corporal and vocal training and (b) main drama techniques (e.g., storytelling and improvisation and role-play), and (2) psycho-pedagogical framework which emphasizes the role of a dialogic space through (c) playfulness and a (d) collaborative, safe space. We also identified (e) feedback as an important element of DPT which belongs to both drama technical phases and psycho-pedagogical framework categories. Along with the model, we explain the creative outcomes associated to each of these elements as a means to attire the attention to drama-based pedagogies for the development of creativity in the educational setting.

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Improving Teenagers’ Divergent Thinking With Improvisational Theater

Improvisational theater (improv) is supposed to have an impact on cognitive processes (divergent thinking, flexibility, language, memory, problem solving, and co-construction), academic performance, and everyday life in many ways. However, little research studied on the psychological impact of improv, with some results highlighting a divergent thinking enhancement in children and adults, but not with teenagers, one of the most important age groups to practice improv. Therefore, this study aims to assess divergent thinking for middle school students before and after an 11-weeks session compared to a control group with a sport practice. The Alternative Uses Task (AUT) was used before and after the session for both groups to evaluate divergent thinking. The improv group had better performance in originality, flexibility and gave less prototypical items after the improv sessions compared to before, while the control group performance was similar before and after. Our results suggest that improv helps teenagers’ divergent thinking to improve, not only with experimental games in the lab context but also after ecological sessions. We urge scientists to study in depth psychological impacts of improvisational theater and applied improvisation, for a better understanding of improv and as a model to study embodied cognition.

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Teaching Improvisation through Processes. Applications in Music Education and Implications for General Education

Improvisation is an articulated multidimensional activity based on an extemporaneous creative performance. Practicing improvisation, participants expand sophisticated skills such as sensory and perceptual encoding, memory storage and recall, motor control, and performance monitoring. Improvisation abilities have been developed following several methodologies mainly with a product-oriented perspective. A model framed under the socio-cultural theory of learning for designing didactic activities on processes instead of outcomes is presented in the current paper. The challenge is to overcome the mere instructional dimension of some practices of teaching improvisation by designing activities that stimulate self-regulated learning strategies in the students. In the article the present thesis is declined in three ways, concerning the following three possible areas of application: (1) high-level musical learning, (2) musical pedagogy with children, (3) general pedagogy. The applications in the music field focusing mainly on an expert’s use of improvisation are discussed. The last section considers how these ideas should transcend music studies, presenting the benefits and the implications of improvisation activities for general learning. Moreover, the application of music education to the following cognitive processes are discussed: anticipation, use of repertoire, emotive communication, feedback and flow. These characteristics could be used to outline a pedagogical method for teaching music improvisation based on the development of reflection, reasoning, and meta-cognition.

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4E Music Pedagogy and the Principles of Self-Organization

Recent approaches in the cognitive and psychological sciences conceive of mind as an Embodied, Embedded, Extended, and Enactive (or 4E) phenomenon. While this has stimulated important discussions and debates across a vast array of disciplines, its principles, applications, and explanatory power have not yet been properly addressed in the domain of musical development. Accordingly, it remains unclear how the cognitive processes involved in the acquisition of musical skills might be understood through the lenses of this approach, and what this might offer for practical areas like music education. To begin filling this gap, the present contribution aims to explore central aspects of music pedagogy through the lenses of 4E cognitive science. By discussing cross-disciplinary research in music, pedagogy, psychology, and philosophy of mind, we will provide novel insights that may help inspire a richer understanding of what musical learning entails. In doing so, we will develop conceptual bridges between the notion of ‘autopoiesis’ (the property of continuous self-regeneration that characterizes living systems) and the emergent dynamics contributing to the flourishing of one’s musical life. This will reveal important continuities between a number of new teaching approaches and principles of self-organization. In conclusion, we will briefly consider how these conceptual tools align with recent work in interactive cognition and collective music pedagogy, promoting the close collaboration of musicians, pedagogues, and cognitive scientists.

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