We have received inspirations from the work of the Reggio educators to reflect on the meaning and concept of ‘aesthetics’ and the value we give to aesthetics in our work with the children. We are constantly challenged to reflect on our attitude of care and attention to and for the things we do each day, be it the words we choose to speak, a choice of the shade in color, the choice of music to set the ambiance… Recently, it has been enlightening for me, thanks to the sharing with colleagues, to revisit the principles of Zen aesthetics found in the art of the traditional Japanese garden (Presentation Zen: 7 Japanese aesthetic principles to change your thinking). I have chosen five out of many more principles which I find correlate, and give deeper meaning, to our daily work at the ELC.
Kanso (simplicity or elimination of clutter) – things are explained in a simple manner that gives clarity through omission of the non-essential.
Fukinsei (asymmetry or irregularity) – the idea of controlling balance in a composition via irregularity and asymmetry.
Shibui/Shibumi (beautiful by being understated) – elegant simplicity, articulate brevity.
Shizen (naturalness) – there is an absence of pretense or artificiality, a full creative intent that is unforced.
Yugen (profundity or suggestion, rather than revelation) – such that a Japanese garden can be said to be a collection of subtleties and symbolic elements.
Seijaku (tranquility) – an air of energized calm, stillness and solitude.
Where in our work with the children can we find spaces to think upon these principles with intention, in the ways we construct our environment, in our daily interactions with each other, in our approach to learning and understanding? Perhaps in the blog postings of E2, E1 and the Atelier this week, we may be able to feel and find glimpses of the aesthetic principles through the choice of stories and images each teacher has chosen to share so very carefully.