1st Edition

Art as Unlearning Towards a Mannerist Pedagogy

By John Baldacchino Copyright 2019
    178 Pages
    by Routledge

    178 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Art as Unlearning makes an argument for art’s unlearning as a mannerist pedagogy. Art’s pedagogy facilitates a form of forgetfulness by extending what happens in the practice of the arts in their visual, auditory and performative forms. The concept of learning has become predominantly hijacked by foundational paradigms such as developmental narratives whose positivistic approach has limited the field of education to a narrow practice within the social sciences. This book moves away from these strictures by showing how the arts confirm that unlearning is not contingent on learning, but rather anticipates and avoids it.

    This book cites the experience and work of artists who, by unlearning the canon, have opened a diversity of possibilities by which we make and live the world. Moving beyond clichés of art’s teachability and what we have to learn through the arts, it advances a scenario where unlearning is uniquely presented to us by the diverse practices that we identify with the arts. The very notion of art as unlearning stems from and represents a fundamental critique of the constructivist pedagogies that have dominated arts education for over half a century. 

    This book will be of great interest to academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of education, philosophy of education, history of education, pedagogy of art and art education. It will also appeal to educators, art educators, and artists interested in the pedagogy of art.


    Chapter 1: Undoing Mona Lisa

    Chapter 2: Art, doubt, and error

    Chapter 3: Learning with art

    Chapter 4: Art’s Deschooled Practice

    Chapter 5: Willed forgetfulness

    Chapter 6: Art’s false "ease"

    Chapter 7: The ventriloquist’s soliloquy

    Chapter 8: A mannerist pedagogy


    John Baldacchino is Professor of Arts Education and the Director of the Division of the Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. Focusing on art, philosophy and education, his books include Education Beyond Education (2009) Makings of the Sea (2010) Art’s Way Out (2012) and John Dewey (2014).

    "In this provocative collection of writings, John Baldacchino articulates his concept of unlearning in relation to art and education. A mannerist pedagogy is advocated and unfolded as each chapter explores the relationships between art, philosophy and learning, engaging the reader into processes wherein art becomes a form of unlearning and learning becomes a form of art. Artists, art teachers, and teachers alike will find this a rewarding read."

    Jan Jagodzinski, Professor Visual Art and Media Education, University of Alberta. Author of What is Art Education? After Deleuze and Guattari.

    "Baldacchino makes an insightful and compelling case for unlearning and willed forgetfulness as creative dispositions through which the events of art and its education resist and endure foundational assumptions and representations of learning. Contrary to the linearity of developmental and constructivist modes, unlearning problematizes teleological objectives of knowledge acquisition and instead embraces the contingencies and immanent potentialities of paradoxical thought. His positioning unlearning alongside 16th and 17th century European Mannerist art and culture does not repeat and romanticize the past, but provides an historical association when canonical thought was once challenged, destabilized, and opened to the differential possibilities of life."

    Charles R. Garoian, Professor Emeritus of Art Education, Pennsylvania State University.