John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1934) explores how art develops out of everyday experience. Imbued with the pragmatism of William James, Dewey widens the discourse of aesthetics so as to recognise that our creation, experience and appreciation of the aesthetic is linked intrinsically to being human. By encouraging the natural playfulness of children, advocates of Philosophy for Children (P4C) may creatively engage students to think, reflect and be more aware of the impact their gestures have on others. One of the most fundamental aspects of the embodied human life is human interaction that is based on expressions, what Schmid (2000b) calls gestures. Through self-reflection, one’s set of gestures can be developed into a deliberate performance, a conscious, selected and coherent work of art (Schmid, 2000b, p. 332). By considering how P4C practitioners may engage with concepts of art, drama and performance and linking this to Schmid’s concept of gestures within his pedagogy for the art of living, we explore how philosophical play with children can improve their self-awareness as well as other-awareness which in turn supports the practice of phronesis or practical wisdom. The holistic approach to education supported by Dewey, Schmid and advocates of P4C highlights not just rational or critical thinking skills, but also includes playfulness, creativity and empathetic engagement with others that, along with critical thinking, gives rise to decent citizens and democratic human beings.


P4C, art of living, gestures, performance, CoI, aesthetic education

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