A retrospective/prospective arts based educational research study of i believe: a modern oratorio for empathic learning

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Zalis, Zane
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This study examines knowing and knowledge at the intersection of feeling and reason. As an instance of arts based educational research (ABER) through the composition of words and music, a modern oratorio—i believe—was created about the Holocaust and the attendant issues of human rights and social justice. Data gathered through field work, interviews, and extensive reading was transformed into an artistic representation that placed music performers and percipients at the confluence of objective and subjective meaning while addressing oppositional themes that pervasively inhabit humanness, for example, faith/disbelief, emotion/reason, freedom/slavery, or dignity/disdain. The researcher draws upon transformative education, critical pedagogy, and systems theory as the core frameworks and foundations for empathic learning and ABER. Synthesizing creative inquiry with knowledge building and situating ABER as the central approaches to research are the constituent processes of i believe. A growing body of literature is reviewed that re-examines the relationship of conscious/unconscious and feeling/reasoning concerning knowledge, knowing, and decision making. As a result, the primacy of conscious thought is rightfully disputed, as is the reductionism of scientific knowing. The researcher concludes that developing sustainable peace among 21st century communities confronted with challenges of identity, moral development, respect, violence, and/or radicalization requires school experiences that result in empathic knowledge building, in addition to the acquisition of objective information for students. Education, ABER, and creative works such as i believe can make compelling contributions in this regard.
ABER, Arts based educational research, Knowledge/knowing, Empathy, Empathic learning, Music, Music composition, Lyrics/words, Critical thinking, Critical pedagogy, Transformative learning, Emotion/feeling, Reason/cognition, Arts/science, Morality, Social Justice, Curriculum development, Creativity, Choir, Orchestral music, Human rights, Decision making, Rationality, Humanity, Conscious/unconscious, Holocaust, Subjectivity/objectivity