The purpose of the present thesis is twofold; the first part comprises a theoretical analysis of the concept muse-ical in an attempt to describe similarities and differences between the concepts muse-ical and aesthetic and furthermore, to identify the distinguishing features of a muse-ical approach and a muse-ical
The second part of the thesis reports on an empirical study among student teachers who have chosen to study the program Muse-ical Learning. They have been interviewed about their experiences and impressions of this new program. More specifically they have been given questions pertaining to museical, aesthetic, artistic, scholarly learning, sensory experiences, talent and finally how they conceive of the role of muse-ical learning in school and in society at large and what notions they have of their future work as teachers in the field.
The first part is an analysis based on selected previous writings and research regarding the concepts muse-ical and aesthetic/esthetical. The approach taken to this reading is mainly hermeneutical.
The second part of the thesis aims at describing how a group of student teachers experience museical learning. Data have been gathered by in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The aim of the analysis has been to emphasise qualitative differences in the ways the informants experience the phenomena actualised in the interviews. The approach in the analysis is, mainly, phenomenographic. The group of informants comprise 20 student teachers, which is about half of all students in the pioneer cohort of the program. Every student was interviewed individually in sessions that had a typical duration of 40-45 minutes. The interviews were transcribed in extenso by the author.
In a historical perspective the origins of muse-ical can be traced back to antique Greece and the nine muses that were given to mankind by the gods. The ancient Greeks realised that artistic and intellectual activities are mutually dependent on each other. A further function of the muses, to care for the collective, social memory, seems also to have been forgotten in our time. Muse-ical activities also have to be combined with rhythm and harmony to get their ultimate form. This fact reflects the Greek conviction that order is a significant aspect of beauty. (Cosmos). Greeks aimed for a balance between the vivacious and engaging of Dionysus and the more strict and ordered of Apollo.
One confusing circumstance in Plato´s texts concerning the word muse-ical is the translation of mousiké to mean music which is the case in Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and English. It makes a great difference whether our children are to be fostered in mousiké i.e. the arts of the muses and gymnastics or only in music and gymnastics. My conclusion is that Plato was of the opinion that the young should be fostered in mousiké and gymnastics.
The word muse-ical appears in educational contexts during the mid 1920ies in Germany, when the sociologist Hans Freyer introduced the term. Muse-ical education is, in consonance with the ideas from ancient Greece, an integration of poetry, music and rhythmic movements.
My conclusion from the theoretical analyses is that the muse-ical domain should be understood as an approach to learning that is based on:
• A holistic attitude aiming at a balance between “hand, heart and brain”.
• Time for reflection.
• Muse-ical activities that give opportunities for applying different forms of expression, e.g.
activities that comprise movement, sound, colour, form and drama.
• Play is an important component.
• The learner is the main actor.
• The muse-ical perspective is superordinate to disciplinary categories of knowledge.
• The muse-ical perspective should not be translated into a rigorous method.
Teachers in all subject matter areas may take a muse-ical approach. Mathematics, history and chemistry for instance are as close to the muse-ical as music or drama.
I prefer to regard the aesthetic and muse-ical as two different concepts, although with some overlap in meaning. There are common parts, some aspects are borderline cases and there are also, of course, distinct differences.
Already the ancient Greeks stated that literary learning and sensory experience were mutually dependent on each other. The Swedish National Curriculum for the compulsory school also emphasises the importance of balancing these two modes of learning against each other.
The results of the empirical study corroborate the conclusions of the theoretical analysis. The students repeatedly emphasise the importance of experience and involvement for the sake of their own learning. They do also stress the importance of connecting theory to practical components. Concerning integration of different areas of muse-ical learning there are different standpoints among the authors that I have referred to. The students’ arguments in favour of finding a common framework for all aesthetic areas are basically that they contain common creative aspects and that they all involve bodily and emotional aspects of learning. The students emphasise, in particular, two positive aspects of the aesthetic areas and muse-ical learning. Firstly, they have a general, facilitating impact on learning regardless of context and content. Secondly, they may contribute significantly to the students’ self-confidence and thereby give them the courage to enter new areas and aim for higher goals than otherwise. A majority of muse-ical activities take place in social settings, which gives rich opportunities for the students to train their social skills.
Even though it has been a demanding task to express the essence of muse-ical learning, theoretically as well as empirically, one may perhaps be comforted by realising that the magic of museical learning might disappear were it possible to define it in a distinct way.
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2005. , 230 p.
muses, muse-ical, muse-ical learning, aesthetic, artistic, scholarly learning, sensory experiences, talent, Plato
2005-10-12, Key 1, Key-huset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (English)