VIII. APPRECIATION, AN IMPORTANT ELEMENT IN EDUCATION





Appreciation belongs to the general field of feeling rather than that of

knowing. The element which distinguishes appreciation from memory or

imagination or perception is an affective one. Any one of these mental

states may be present without the state being an appreciative one. But

appreciation does not occur by itself as an elementary state, it is

rather a complex--a feeling tone accompanying a mental state or process

and coloring it. n other words, appreciation involves the presence of

some intellectual states, but its addition makes the total complex of an

emotional rather than a cognitive nature. The difficulty found in

discussing emotions in general, that of defining or describing them in

language, which is a tool of the intellect, is felt here. The only way

to know what appreciation means is to appreciate. No phase of feeling

can be adequately described--its essence is then lost--it must be felt.

Nevertheless something may be done to differentiate this type of feeling

from others.



Appreciation is an attitude of mind which is passive, contemplative. t

may grow out of an active attitude or emotion, or it may lead to one,

but in either case the state changes from one of appreciation to

something else. n appreciation the individual is quiescent.

Appreciation, therefore, has no end outside of itself. t is a

sufficient cause for being. The individual is satisfied with it. This

puts appreciation into the category of recreation. Appreciation then

always involves the pleasure tone, otherwise it could not be enjoyed. t

is always impersonal. t takes the individual outside and beyond his own

affairs; it is an other-regarding feeling. Possession, achievement, and

the like do not arouse appreciation, but rather an egoistical emotion.



One of the salient characteristics of emotions is their unifying power.

t has aptly been said that in extreme emotional states one _is_ the

emotion. The individual and his emotional state become one--a very

different state of affairs from what is true in cognition. This element

of unification is present to some extent in appreciation, although,

because of its complex nature, to a lesser extent than in a simpler,

more primitive feeling state. Still, in true appreciation one does

become absorbed in the object of appreciation; he, for the time being,

to some extent becomes identified with what he is appreciating. n,

order to appreciate this submerging of one's self, this identification

is necessary.



Appreciation is bound up with four different types of situations which

are of most importance to the teacher--(1) appreciation of the

beautiful, (2) appreciation of human nature, (3) appreciation of the

humorous, (4) appreciation of intellectual powers. The appreciation

found in these four types of situations must vary somewhat because of

the concomitants, but the characteristics which mark appreciation as

such seem to be present in all four. True, in certain of the situations

occurring under these types the emotional element may be stronger than

in others--in some the intellectual element may seem to almost outweigh

the affective, but still the predominant characteristics will be found

to be those of an attitude which has the earmarks of appreciation.



Appreciation of beauty has usually been discussed under the head of

aesthetic emotions. As to what rightfully belongs under the head of

aesthetics is in dispute--writers on the subject varying tremendously in

their opinions. Most of the recent writers, however, agree that the

stimulus for aesthetic appreciation must be a sense percept or an image

of some sense object. deas, meanings, in and of themselves, are not

then objects of aesthetic enjoyment. The two senses which furnish the

stimuli for this sort of appreciation are the eye and the ear--the

former combining sensations under space form and the latter under time

form to produce aesthetic feelings. Our senses may cause feelings of

pleasure, but the enjoyment is sensuous rather than aesthetic. Nature,

in all its myriad forms, art, architecture, music, literature, and the

dance are the chief sources of aesthetic appreciation. That there is a

definite connection between physiological processes and the feeling of

appreciation is without doubt true, but just what physiological

conditions in connection with visual and auditory perception are

fulfilled when some experience gives rise to aesthetic appreciation, and

just what is violated when there is lack of such appreciation, is not

known. t is known that both harmony and rhythm must be considered in

music, and that the structure and muscular control of the eye plus the

ease of mental apprehension play important parts in rousing aesthetic

feelings in connection with vision, but further than that little is

known.



The chief danger met in developing the aesthetic appreciation is the

tendency to overestimate its dependence on, in the first place, skill in

creative work and the active emotions involved in achievement, and in

the second place, the intellectual understanding of the situation. t

has been largely taken for granted that the constructive work in the

arts or in music increased one's power of appreciation. That, if a child

used color and painted a little picture, or composed a melody, or

modeled in clay, he would therefore be able to appreciate better in

these fields. And further that the very development of this power to do

necessarily developed the power to appreciate. These two beliefs are

true to some extent, but only to a limited extent, and not nearly so far

as practice has taken for granted. t is true that some power to do

increases power to appreciate, but they parallel each other only for a

short time and then diverge, and either may be developed at the expense

of the other. n most people the power to appreciate, the passive,

contemplative enjoyment, far surpasses the ability to create. On the

other hand, men of creative genius often lack power of aesthetic

appreciation. This result is natural if one thinks of the mental

processes involved in the two. Power to do is associated with muscular

skill, with technique, and with the personal emotions of active

achievement. AEsthetic appreciation, on the other hand, is associated

with neither, but with a mental attitude and feelings which are quite

different. Cultivating one set of processes will not develop the other

to any great extent and may, on the other hand, be antagonistic to their

development. f the aesthetic emotions, if appreciations of the

beautiful, are desired, they must be trained and developed directly.



The second danger to be avoided in developing aesthetic appreciation is

that of magnifying its dependence on the intellectual factors. To

understand, to be able to analyze, to pick out the flaws in a musical

selection, or a painting, is not necessary to its appreciation. True,

some understanding is necessary, but, as in the case of skill, it is

much less than has been taken for granted. Appreciation can go far ahead

of understanding. The intellectual factor and the feeling response are

not absolutely interdependent in degree. Not only so, but the prominence

of the intellectual factor precludes that of the feeling. When one is

emphasized the other cannot be, as they are different sorts of mental

stuff. Continuous and emphatic development of the intellectual may

result in the atrophy of the power of appreciation in any given field

either temporarily or permanently. Many a boy's power to enjoy the

rhythm and melody of poetry has been destroyed by the overemphasis of

the critical facility during his high school course. The fact that a

person can analyze the painting, point out the plans in its composition,

and so on, does not at all mean that he can aesthetically appreciate.

Contemplative enjoyment may be impossible for him--it bores him.

Botanists are not noted for their power of aesthetic appreciation. t is

an acknowledged fact that some art and music critics have lost their

power of appreciation of the things they are continually criticizing.

This discussion is not intended to minimize the value of creative skill,

or of power of intellectual criticism. Both are talents that are well

worth while cultivating. But it is necessary for one to decide which of

the three, aesthetic appreciation, creative skill, or intellectual

criticism, in the fields of art, nature, and music, is most worth while

for the majority of people and then make plans accordingly. No one of

the three can be best developed and brought to its highest perfection by

emphasizing any one of the others.



The second type of appreciation is appreciation of human nature:

appreciation of the value of human life, appreciation of its virtues and

trials, appreciation of great characters, and so on. Some writers would

probably class this type of appreciation under moral feelings--but moral

feelings usually are thought of as active, as accompaniments of conduct,

whereas these appreciations are feelings aroused in the onlooker--they

are passive and for the time being are an end in themselves. These

feelings are stimulated by such studies as literature and history

particularly. Geography and civics offer some opportunity for their

development, and, of course, contact with people is the greatest

stimulus. n this latter type of situation the feelings of appreciation

easily pass over into active emotions, but so long as one remains an

onlooker, they need not do so. This appreciation, sympathy with and

enjoyment and approval of human nature, finds its source in the social

instincts, but it needs development and training if it is to be

perfected. ery much of the time this appreciation is inhibited by the

emphasis put on understanding. The intellectual faculties of memory,

judgment, and criticism are the ones called into play in the study of

history and often of literature. These studies leave the learner cold.

He knows, but it does not make any difference to him. He can analyze the

period or the character, but he lacks any feeling response, any

appreciation of the qualities of endurance and loyalty portrayed, lacks

any _sympathetic_ understanding of the difficulties met and conquered.

As was true of the aesthetic appreciation, a certain amount of

understanding is necessary for true appreciation of any kind, but

overemphasis of the intellectual element destroys the feeling element.



The third type of appreciation to be discussed is the appreciation of

humor. Perhaps this does not belong with the other type, but it

certainly has many of the same characteristics. Calkins defines a sense

of humor as "enjoyment of an unessential incongruity.... This

incongruity must be, as has been said, an unessential one, else the mood

of the observer changes from happiness to unhappiness, and the comic

becomes the pathetic. A fall on the ice which seemed to offer only a

ludicrous contrast between the dignity and grace of the man erect and

the ungainly attitude of the falling figure ceases utterly to be funny

when it is seen to entail some physical injury; and wit which burns and

sears is not amusing to its victim."[12] The ability to appreciate the

humorous in life is a great gift and should be cultivated to a much

greater extent than it is at present.



A fourth type of appreciation has been called appreciation of

intellectual powers--a poor name perhaps, but the feeling is a real one.

Enjoyment of style, of logical sequence, of the harmony of the whole, of

the clear-cut, concise, telling sentences, are illustrations of what is

meant. Enjoyment of a piece of literature, of a debate, of an argument,

of a piece of scientific research, is not limited to the appreciation of

the meanings expressed--in fact, in many cases the only factor that can

arouse the feeling element, the appreciation, is this element of form.

One may _understand_ an argument or a debate as he hears it, but

appreciation, enjoyment of it, comes only as a result of the

consciousness of these elements of form.



_That_ one possesses these feelings of appreciation, at least to some

degree, is a matter of human equipment, but _what_ one appreciates in

art, literature, human nature, etc., depends primarily on training.

There is almost no situation in life that with all people at all times

will arouse appreciative feelings. Although there are a few fundamental

conditions established by the physical make-up of the sense organs and

by the original capacities of the human race, still they are few, and at

present largely unknown, and experience does much to modify even these.

What is crude, vulgar, inharmonious, in art and music to some people,

arouses extreme aesthetic appreciation in others. Literature that causes

one person to throw the book down in disgust will give greatest

enjoyment to another. What is malice to one person is humorous to

another. What people enjoy and appreciate depends primarily on their

experience for the development of these feelings, depends upon the laws

of association, readiness, exercise, and effect. To raise power of

appreciation from low levels to high, from almost nothing to a

controlling force, needs but the application of these laws. But no one

of them can be neglected with impunity. t must be a gradual growth,

beginning with tracks that are ready, because of the presence of certain

instincts, and working on to others through the law of association. To

expect a child of seven to appreciate a steel engraving, or a piece of

classic music, or moral qualities in another person is to violate the

law of readiness. To expect any one in adult life to enjoy music, or

art, or nature, who has not had experience with each and enjoyed each

continually as a child, is to violate the laws of exercise and effect.



Two or three suggestions as to aids in the application of these laws may

be in place. First, a wealth of images is an aid to appreciation.

Second, the absence for the time of the critical attitude. Third, an

encouragement of the passive contemplative attitude. Fourth, the example

of others. Suggestion and association with other people who do

appreciate and enjoy are among the best means of securing it.



The value of feelings of appreciation are threefold: First, they serve

as recreation. t is in enjoyment of this kind that most of the leisure

of civilized races is spent. t serves on the mental level much the same

purpose that play does, in fact, much of it is mental play of a kind.

Second, they are impersonal. They are valuable in that they take us out

of ourselves, away from self-interests, and therefore make for mental

health and sanity as well as for a sympathetic character. They are also

a means of broadening one's experience. Third, they have a close

relationship with ideals and therefore have an active bearing on

conduct. t is not necessarily true that one will tend in himself or in

his surroundings to be like what he enjoys and appreciates, but the

tendency will be strongly in that direction. f an individual truly

appreciates, enjoys, beautiful pictures, good music and books, he will

be likely, so far as he can, to surround himself with them. f he

appreciates loyalty, openmindedness, tolerance, as he meets them in

literature and history, he may become more so himself. At least, the

developing of appreciations is the first step towards conduct in those

lines. n order to insure the conduct, other means must be taken, but

without the appreciation the conduct will be less sure.



One who would count most in developing power of appreciation upon the

part of children may well inquire concerning his own power of

appreciation. There is not very much possibility of the development of

joy in poetry, in music, or any other artistic form of expression

through association with the teacher who finds little satisfaction in

these artistic forms, who has little power of aesthetic appreciation. t

is only as teachers themselves are sincere in their appreciation of the

nobility of character possessed by the men and women whose lives are

portrayed in history, in literature, or in contemporary social life that

one may expect that their influence will be important in developing such

appreciation upon the part of children. Those pupils are fortunate who

are taught by teachers who have a sense of humor, who are able to grow

enthusiastic over the intellectual achievement of the leaders in the

field of study or investigation in which the children are at work.

Children are, indeed, quick to discover sentimentalism or

pseudo-appreciation upon the part of teachers, but even though they may

not give any certain expression to their enjoyment, they are usually

largely influenced by the attitude and genuine power of appreciation

possessed by the teacher.



n our attempt to have children grow in the field of appreciation we

have often made the mistake of attempting to impose upon them adult

standards. A great librarian in one of our eastern cities has said that

he would rather have children read dime novels than to have them read

nothing. From his point of view it was more important to have children

appreciating and enjoying something which they read than to have their

lives barren in this respect. n literature, in music, and in fine art

the development in power of appreciation is undoubtedly from the simple,

cruder forms to those which we as adults consider the higher or nobler

forms of expression. Mother Goose, the rhymes of Stevenson, of Field, or

of Riley, may be the beginning of the enjoyment of literature which

finds its final expression in the reading and in the possession of the

greatest literature of the English language. The simple rote songs which

the children learn in the first grade, or which they hear on the

phonograph, may lead through various stages of development to the

enjoyment of grand opera. Pictures in which bright color predominates

may be the beginning of power of appreciation which finds its fruition

in a home which is decorated with reproductions of the world's

masterpieces.



t is not only in the artistic field that this growth in power of

appreciation from the simpler to the more complex is to be found.

Children instinctively admire the man who is brave rather than the man

who endures. Achievement is for most boys and girls of greater

significance than self-sacrifice. t is only as we adapt our material to

their present attainment, or to an attempt to have them reach the next

higher stage of development, that we may expect genuine growth. All too

often instead of growth we secure the development of a hypocritical

attitude, which accepts the judgment of others, and which never really

indicates genuine enjoyment.



While it is best not to insist upon an analysis of the feelings that one

has in enjoying a picture or a poem or a great character, it is worth

while to encourage choice. Of many stories which have been told,

children may very properly choose one which they would like to tell to

others. Of many poems which have been read in class, a group of boys may

admire one and commit it to memory, while the girls may care for another

and be allowed to memorize it. Wherever such cooeperation is possible,

the picture which you enjoy most is the one that will mean most in power

of appreciation if placed in your room at home. Spontaneous approval,

rather than an agreement with an adult teacher who is considered an

authority, is to be sought for. There is more in the spontaneous

laughter which results as children read together their "Alice in

Wonderland" than could possibly result from an analysis of the quality

of humor which is involved.



We are coming to understand as a matter of education that we may hope to

develop relatively few men and women of great creative genius. The

producers of work of great artistic worth are, for the most part, to be

determined by native capacity rather than by school exercises. We must

think of the great majority of school children as possible consumers

rather than as producers. Schools which furnish a maximum of opportunity

to enjoy music and pictures may hope to develop in their community a

power of discrimination in these fields which will result in

satisfaction with nothing less than the best. The player-piano and the

phonograph may mean more in the development of musical taste in a

community than all of the lessons which are given in the reading of

music. The art gallery in the high school, the folk dances which have

been produced as a part of the school festivals, the reading of the best

stories, may prepare the way for the utilization of leisure time in the

pursuit of the nobler pleasures. The teacher with a saving sense of

humor, large in his power of appreciation of the great men and women of

his time, and all of the time keen in his own enjoyment and in his

ability to interpret for others those things which are most worth while

in literature and in art, may count more largely in the life of the

community than the one who is a master in some field of investigation.





QUESTONS





1. What are the characteristics of the mental states which are involved

in appreciation?



2. Name the different types of situations in which appreciation may be

developed. Give examples.



3. Does the power to criticize poetry or music necessarily involve

appreciation?



4. To what degree may skill in creative work result in power of

appreciation?



5. What are the elements involved in appreciating human nature?



6. Give an example of appreciation of intellectual powers.



7. What is the essential element in the appreciation of humor?



8. Explain how the power of appreciation is dependent upon training.



9. What values in the education of an individual are realized through

growth in power of appreciation?



10. Why is it important for a teacher to seek to cultivate his own power

of appreciation?



11. What poems, or pictures, or music would you expect first-grade

children to enjoy? Why?



12. Would you expect fifth-grade children to grow in appreciation of

poetry by having them commit to memory selections from Milton's Paradise

Lost? Why?



13. Why is it important to allow children to choose the poems that they

commit to memory, or the pictures which they hang on their walls?



14. Why would you accept spontaneous expression of approval of the

characters in literature or in history, rather than seek to control the

judgments of children in this respect?



15. How may teachers prove most effective in developing the power of

appreciation upon the part of children?



* * * * *





VII. HOW THINKING MAY BE STIMULATED X. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES FOR THE TEACHER facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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