Margaret Latta: Play and Aesthetic Education

Through the process of overviewing many people who have contributed to curriculum in some way I eventually came across Margaret Latta who works at the University of British Columbia. Her main focus is dealing with play and aesthetic play within the curriculum and the classroom. The Lehman College defines aesthetic education as “an approach to teaching and learning that engages students in learning about works of art through hands-on inquiry, questioning, writing, and art making.” Through countless research done by Latta we can come to see just how important play and the arts are in the classroom.  In Maraget Latta’s book “Curricular Conversations: Play is the (missing) thing”, Latta explains that “as a curriculum theorist, teacher educator and arts educator, I am concerned that educators world-wide have become weary of cultivating genuine interest in learning, given the lengthy barrage of like-minded global policies and practices concerned predominately with compliance and uniformity.” Play is far too often viewed as just games in classrooms and for the most part is looked down upon by teachers and parents but instead it plays roles within “mental, social, emotional, and physical development” and is said to be  “deeply educative, fostering curricular conversations that connect the self and the world in an ever-enlarging conversation.” I use the example of a teacher who is teaching a science lesson. She is showing the science experiment and the students are in awe and so eager to understand more. Instead of allowing the students to play with the experiment and draw pictures of what is happening, she quickly moves on to a work sheet that has little to do with the activity but instead used this experiment as a way to check off curriculum outcomes. 

Aesthetic and play learning allow children to connect themselves to the world around them and be creative. When children are placed in a box and are given little opportunity to play and learn with their new knowledge it becomes boring, and uninteresting. The aesthetic concept is buried deep in the roots of curriculum theorist John Dewey who has time and time again preached the importance of this view on curriculum. 

As I move forward with this research I plan to dig deeper into the research of aesthetic education and how Margaret Latta has impacted teachers, students and the curriculum as a whole. From the many articles I have read she is very passionate about her work and challenges others to take her ideas and transfer them into the classroom. In addition to this, I want to find out what makes this view on curriculum so hard for teachers to incorporate into the classroom.

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