Gadamer in the Classroom: Gadamer in the Classroom: using a hermeneutic approach to deepen students Interpretation of Contemporary Art

By Lode Vermeersch, Tobias Frenssen and Willem Elias.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

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It is widely recognized that a lot of teachers experience difficulties guiding and valuing the interpretation of contemporary art work in the classroom. Even though these artworks are usually open, complex and ambiguous, teachers rarely get students to think deeply and reflectively about art, beyond the stage of favoritism (Parsons, 1987). This paper explores the way a teacher can guide the group process of contemporary art interpretation, not solely with the aim of explaining the work but to make it part of a personal experience of the world. For this the theoretical framework of hermeneutical aesthetics, as stated by Hans-Georg Gadamer, is explored and applied to four art lessons in teacher training. Applying Gadamer's thinking of art interpretation as a constant dynamic enquiry to a classroom setting, shows that hermeneutical art didactics widen the lens of the students and lead to a more profound narrative construction of meaning, than an interpretation process based on logic understanding and sequential reasoning.

Keywords: Hermeneutics, Arts Pedagogies, Self-inquiry, Self-knowing

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp.13-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 585.938KB).

Lode Vermeersch

Senior Research Associate, Research group on lifelong learning, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Lode Vermeersch holds a master’s degree in Educational Sciences (1998) and an advanced master’s degree in Cultural Studies (1999). He currently is a senior research associate at the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB). He is also a senior research associate at the HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society of the University of Leuven (KULeuven). His research interests lie in the field of arts and cultural education, literacy (visual literacy, low-literacy, multiliteracies, etc.), cultural policy and lifelong learning.

Tobias Frenssen

Teacher Trainer, UCLL, Hasselt, Belgium

Tobias Frenssen graduated as a teacher. He also owns a master's degree in Language and Literature and in the Arts. Currently he is a teacher trainer at the UC Louvain-Limburg (Belgium).

Willem Elias

Professor, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Brussels, Belgium

Willem Elias is an art critic and full professor in the field of arts and cultural education at the University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussel – VUB). Willem Elias holds a PhD in philosophy from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (1989). He also holds degrees in adult educational sciences and museum management (Leiden University). He is the author of numerous academic publications on arts education, aesthetics, cultural policy, art theory, and contemporary art.