Critical Reflection # 8: Art Education for Democratic Life and The Green Banana

Both of these pieces speak to the importance of engaging with diverse voices and perspectives. They propose different ways of immersing ourselves and cultivating appreciation for different ways of knowing and community wisdom. Olivia Gude writes that the “vividness of art experiences blurs the boundaries between self experience and the experiences of another” (4). Donald Batchelder observes that an important goal of education is to “open up possibilities for discovery and expand learning and the chance for mutual acceptance and recognition in a wider world”. He suggests that through participation in the center of another person’s world, we gain new and vital perspectives on our own positionality, on our own “immediate center of the world”(xiv).

What? Even if you are working with community residents with whom you share a cultural background, there are always differences of experience and perspective. Drawing from the points in “The Green Banana”, tell a brief story about something you have learned from someone specific at your community partner site, or from the people and setting in general. What do you know about the center of the world from the perspective of those you are working with? Or do you have a Green Banana story: Something you learned from people at your community partner site that you would not have known or understood without this experience? (Remember to use specific details from your community experience and the text to support your point.)

So What? Why is it important that the voices, experiences, knowledge, and skills of the people at your community partner site are seen as valid and meaningful in a living democracy? In what ways do you see them being supported or limited by specific larger structures and systems? (Remember to use specific details and the text to support your point.)

Now What? Olivia Gude articulates the ways in which art builds the democratic capacity to engage with complexity and develops skills to understand the “meaning-making of others” and the “nuances of meaning” (4). Draw on this article to explore what this (or other related points in the article) means to you at this point in the colloquium. (Remember to use specific details and the text to support your point.)