Democratizing Children's Computation: Learning Computational Science as Aesthetic Experience

Amy Voss Farris, Pratim Sengupta

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20 Scopus citations


In this essay, Amy Voss Farris and Pratim Sengupta argue that a democratic approach to children's computing education in a science class must focus on the aesthetics of children's experience. In Democracy and Education, Dewey links "democracy" with a distinctive understanding of "experience." For Dewey, the value of educational experiences lies in "the unity or integrity of experience." In Art as Experience, Dewey presents aesthetic experience as the fundamental form of human experience that undergirds all other forms of experiences and that can bring together multiple forms of experiences, locating this form of experience in the work of artists. Particularly relevant to the focus of this essay, computational literacy, Dewey calls the process through which a person transforms a material into an expressive medium an aesthetic experience. Farris and Sengupta argue that the kind of experience that is appropriate for a democratic education in the context of children's computational science is essentially aesthetic in nature. Given that aesthetics has received relatively little attention in STEM education research, the authors' purpose here is to highlight the power of Deweyan aesthetic experience in making computational thinking available and attractive to all children, including those who are disinterested in computing, and especially those who are likely to be discounted by virtue of location, gender, or race.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-296
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Theory
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education


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