International Journal of Education & the Arts


Margaret Macintyre Latta  
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, U.S.A.  

Christine Marmé Thompson  
Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.
ISSN 1529-8094
Volume 13 Interlude 2
April 5, 2012

Education and/as Art: A Found Poetry Suite

Monica Prendergast
University of Victoria, Canada

Citation: Prendergast, M. (2012). Education and/as Art: A found poetry suite. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 13(Interlude 2). Retrieved [date] from

Embracing metaphor as method (Prendergast, 2005; see also Prendergast, 2006a, 2006b, 2008a), which I suggest is a key characteristic of thinking poetically and doing poetic inquiry, is the process conveyed in this suite of found poems. The investigation began with a cross-disciplinary scholarly database search on the term "education as art" that asked: How has education been conceived as artful over time? This search led to (sadly but unsurprisingly) very few sources that explicitly employ this metaphor. However, what was discovered was powerful enough to warrant interpretation through poetic transcription and representation in a suite of found poems. These poems reveal the frustration, even rage, of those who wish to re-vision education as artful. They also reveal hopeful (perhaps utopian) views of what education could look like if re-conceived as the enculturation of artists. These found poems were presented as part of a keynote lecture to Ph.D. education students at the University of Minho, Braga, Portugal in April of 2011.

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we live in lands

of what might be


what might have been



far greater

of more import

than the world

                        of what is



turns lust

                        into love

the need for shelter

                        into construction

                        and industry

converts food-taking

                        into dining

(but turns some

                        into gluttons)


by virtue

of imagination

human life oscillates

                                    a vague median line

(what we might call

natural animality)

it soars above

            in ideals, science,

                                    art, religion


it drops below

            in crimes, cruelties,

                                    injustices, perversions


the work of actuality

is imagination's legacy


it is only

with imagination

we get away

from everything

but the bloom of the rose

early in the morning


it takes imagination

to think of

                        being free


                                              (Broudy, 1972/1994, pp. 12-14)


Art as education/Education as art


during one very unfortunate

moment in history


in positions of power

decided to isolate







(metadiscipline of knowledge)

was degraded

to today's definition:

discipline and craft


focused on

the production

of objects

(few manufacturers/

                              many buyers)


a dispensable


                        rather than

                        a way of thinking

redesign this structure:

underline the relationship

                        between artist and public

incorporate the visitor

                        into the creative process

equip the consumer

                        to become the creator


reclaim art

as a methodology

for knowledge


                        the intelligence


a profound revision

            of the social function

            of art


                                              (Camnitzer, 2009, p. 230)


art and education


art and education

are not different things;

they are different


of a common activity


                                              (Camnitzer, 2009, p. 234)


the fact is


the fact is:

we have to

introduce art

into education


as a pedagogical method

as a methodology

to acquire knowledge


the fact is:

we have to

hone the rigor

in creation


improve communication

with the public

the fact is:

there is no

real education

without art


no true art

without education


the fact is:

the artist

who cannot survive

in the market

goes to teach

without knowing how


the fact is:

the teacher

who runs out of


doesn't dare

to go to art

to get them


the fact

(the tragic fact)


we socially accept

one can teach

            without rigor

one makes art

            by divine appointment


                                              (Camnitzer, 2009, p. 235)





is a fundamental


in true pedagogy


we have to become



we have to become



another country:

doing away

                        with borderlines


                        in the same direction


                                              (Camnitzer, 2009, pp. 236, 237)


education as art and discipline


education so conceived

(very far from

being a performance

of learner


            passive spectator)


the subject

detains, fixes thought,

feeds interest,

giving color

to excitement


very closely

the attitude

            of artist

                        to material

(the complex relation

            of submission

            and mastery)


the discipline

of art



                                              (Black, 1944, p. 292)




there is no more

a likelihood

of finding

a recipe

for education

than finding

an infallible method

for making





                                              (Black, 1944, p. 294)


education as art


human experience

is layered




require no



(our hearts beat

we learn to walk

we believe the sun

will rise tomorrow)


the mechanics

of our world

breathing and

pumping blood


we must learn

            to perform

            to adopt


we call this



intelligent behaviours

call for

            drawing a conclusion

            forming an intention

            achieving understanding

            conceiving a new creation


we must learn

the alphabet

            before we read

to spell

            before poetry

to add

and subtract

            before proving

to hold

a pencil

            before we draw

to play scales

            before Mozart


what is most

worth learning?


a conception

of the good


                        at the level

                                              of community


                                              (Alexander, 2003, p. 9)





not only


old ideas,

it creates

            new ones


not only



and norms

[but] also

            new attitudes

            and practices



is generative

not (merely)



recalls the past

but also

pushes the limits











to transmit




to initiate

visions of

the good:

              that which

              we cherish



at the boundaries

of culture


and testing)



good people


                                              (Alexander, 2003, pp. 9-10)


artful teachers


artful teachers

of all subjects

(like sculptors

and painters)

study and find

creative ways

to expand

their discipline


artful teachers


to their audience

(like dancers

on a stage)

most fruitfully

to be engaged


artful teachers

aware of

the classroom

space (like actors

in a theater)

in which they


the roles and faces

they represent

artful teachers

choose language

(like writers, like

a blank page)



artful teachers

abandon intended

melody (like

jazz musicians)

to explore an

unexpected theme


artful teachers

break the boundaries

(like art)


            set us free


                                              (Davis, 2005, p. 193)



Alexander, H. A. (2003). Aesthetic inquiry in education: Community, transcendence, and the
         meaning of pedagogy. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 37(2), 1-18.

Black, M. (1944). Education as art and discipline. Ethics, 54(4), 290-294.

Broudy, H. S. (1972/1994). Enlightened cherishing: An essay on aesthetic education. Urbana,
         IL: University of Illinois Press.

Camnitzer, L. (2009). On art, artists, Latin America, and other Utopias. Ed. By R. Weiss.
         Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.

Davis, J. H. (2005). Framing education as art: The octopus has a good day. New York:
         Teachers College Press.

Prendergast, M. (2008a). UNESCO World Conference on Arts Education: A poetic review.
         LEARNing Landscapes, 2(1), 33-43. Available at:

Prendergast, M. (2008b). Teaching spectatorship: Essays and poems on audience in
. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.

Prendergast, M. (2006a). Audience in performance: A poetics and pedagogy of spectatorship.
         Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Victoria, BC.

Prendergast, M. (2006). Found poetry as literature review: Research found poems on audience
         and performance. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 369-388.

Prendergast, M. (2005). Metaphor as method. Paper presented at the Provoking Curriculum
         conference, University of Victoria, BC.


About the Author

Dr. Monica Prendergast is Assistant Professor of Drama/Theatre Education at the University of Victoria. Her research interests include; arts-based and practice-based research, critical pedagogies, performance theories and poetic inquiry. She is co-editor of Poetic Inquiry (Sense, 2009) and Applied Theatre (Intellect, 2009). She has also co-edited two themed journal issues on poetic inquiry methods (Educational Insights [2009] and Creative Approaches to Research [2012]), and is currently co-editor of the Canadian Journal of Practice-Based Research in Theatre. Forthcoming books include a monograph on utopian thinking in drama/theatre education, a co-authored handbook on applied drama facilitation and a co-edited poetic inquiry collection.

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