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Creativity—the fundamental basis of human experience, expression, and learning in the communal world of the classroom—is the primary concern of this dissertation. While creativity is one of the buzzwords of 21st century education the world over, its lived understanding as fundamental to being human is understudied. This gap calls attention to the significances for all involved of entering into meaning making as creators. To explore the significances, I draw upon and give expression to my experiences of building such creative learning communities (CLC) in my own Multicultural Education (ME) classrooms as a teacher educator and curriculum theorist. Ways to enable educators to envision the power and possibilities of CLC are foregrounded as I theorize what creating and sustaining CLC entails.
In Chapters One and Two, I propose the need to understand creativity as fundamental to human nature and already present within acts of expression in human communities. I turn primarily to Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s and John Dewey’s thoughts on expression to glean insights into how creativity can be reclaimed in the intersubjective and intertwining experiences of being and learning with others in a phenomenal world. I also employ expression as a philosophical mode for my curriculum theorizing.
Chapters Three, Four, and Five expressively theorize my curricular practices of creating and sustaining CLC in my own ME classroom as modes of bodily, aesthetic, and communal expression. In each chapter, I explore different kinds of curricular and instructional practices—introductory activities; arts-mediated presentations; and staged-readings of The Laramie Project—while articulating how each of these activities and practices is created and enacted so as to employ the three modes of expression and to theorize their meanings.
Finally, the concluding chapter synthesizes my theorizing. In CLC, my students are empowered to be creative knowing bodies, expressive meaning-makers, and interdependent co-creators of their curricular experiences and witness of their individual-collective learning through expression and (re)creation of their lived meanings. I also articulate this study’s contribution to re-envisioning creativity as a basis, not a result, of education in the standardization-oriented educational contexts of the U.S. and South Korea where I now continue my career.
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