Penn State

Kimberly Powell - Associate Professor of Education and Art Education, College of Education

Book Title: Releasing the Imagination: Essays on Education, the Arts, and Social Change

Author: Maxine Greene

Book Description:

Maxine Greene, philosopher and educator, presents a unique collection of essays on the arts and arts education as means for opening minds to the variety of human experiences and conditions. Our engagement with the arts, Greene argues, has the potential to shock us into a wide-awakeness, imploring us to dwell in the worlds of others as well as imagining alternative possibilities that might otherwise be concealed or unknown. “As I view them,” she wrote, “the arts offer opportunities for perspective, for perceiving alternate ways of transcending and being in the world, for refusing automatism that overwhelms choice” (1995, p. 142), a choice that, among others, might be to “strive against limits” (p. 56). This collection of essays is written for teachers, educators, and scholars and differs from the typical arguments for the inclusion of the arts in education. It is a call to reshape imagination among teachers and students through aesthetic encounters with the arts, and the important work that teachers can do to facilitate these encounters.   I first heard Greene speak at an education conference at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is a professor of philosophy and education. She inspired me, then, with a language and a way of thinking that has continued to inform both my pedagogy and my research for nearly 20 years. Releasing the Imagination is required reading for some of my graduate courses. Every time I read the text with my graduate students, many of whom are or have been public school teachers, I hear how they are inspired by Greene’s vision of the role of the arts in the development of a social imagination, of community and democracy, and of their desire to "break through the frames of custom" (p. 56) through a pedagogy of wide-awakeness.


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