Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version

April 2004


Published in Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 2:1 (Spring 2004), pp. 211-226. Online at Used by permission.


Aesthetic play requires all participants to remain faithful to the intricacies and intensities of human experience. Teachers and students continually improvised within relations, adapting, building, and changing meaning. The indeterminate nature of aesthetic play assumes teaching/learning is complex and individual. All oriented toward sensitivity to the many relations present in teaching/learning situations deliberately seek out fragility’s presence, in order to honor the existing complexity and individuality. Eliot Eisner explains, “What is mediated through thought are qualities, what is managed in process are qualities, and what terminates at the end is a qualitative whole. . . .” Discerning between these qualitative relationships entails a dialogue of faith. This qualitative interdependence centers on faith acting as a catalyst. This is faith understood as being in touch with context, finding accordance with lived experience. Such accordance with lived experience takes the form of continuous dialogues between self and other. These dialogues of faith ask participants to venture into the unknown with an audacity and tentativeness. Audacity refers to placing value on entering into such dialogues of faith. Belief takes up purpose as something to be worked toward, rather than something that is necessarily present from the beginning. Tentativeness refers to the exposed, uncertain nature such participation demands. Commitment is required, grappling and questioning in the pursuit of meaning. The negotiation between audacity and tentativeness embraces these contraries as interactive and interconnected relationships. In this way, dialogues move back and forth, way-making in a constant exchange between self and situation. Jardine (1992) claims that the task of inquiry so conceived “is not to dispel this tension, but to live and speak from within it.” Harboring within aesthetic play is an integral fragility with particular assumptions, values, and beliefs about teaching and learning. These assumptions, values, and beliefs center on teaching as a call to respond to needs, desires, and interests of children (Hansen, 1995). Faithfully responding to this call necessitates centering/embracing fragility as a productive power alive within the act of creating.