The educational turn and Black Mountain College from autonomous aesthetic to the function of aesthetic in the idea of “lifelong learning” of man


  • Sanela Nikolić


liberal arts college, Black Mountain College, progressive education, John Dewey, “lifelong learning” of man, aesthetic experience


The Black Mountain College was launched in an atmosphere of decentralization of the American educational system, developing a liberal democratic education system and “lifelong learning” of man. In terms of curricula, that institution possessed all the qualities by which liberal arts colleges differed from other models of undergraduate education at the time. However, the primary specificity of Black Mountain in relation to other educational institutions of a liberal arts college type was emphasized by a special role of artistic work in the education of an individual and recognizing the specific nature of artistic experience in the development of receptive and experimental skills of man. The founders of the College took advantage of the reforms of the education system undertaken during the thirties of the twentieth century to launch an experimental curriculum in which the work in domains of different artistic media represented an equally important area of liberal arts in addition to science, history, philosophy and languages. When designing the goals and methods of the educational program, with an emphasis on the role of art in the “lifelong education” of man and a central function of artistic work, Black Mountain’s founders looked to philosopher, sociologist and theorist of education, John Dewey, author of Democracy and Education and Art as Experience. Dewey explicitly replaced the concept of art as the creation of objects intended for disinterested aesthetic enjoyment with the concept of art as a process where the means and the goal is the activity itself – acquisition and development of experience through the artistic work, which can then be applied in an encounter with other forms of human activity.