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ERIC Number: EJ871985
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-0004-3125
Within Connections: Empathy, Mirror Neurons, and Art Education
Jeffers, Carol S.
Art Education, v62 n2 p18-23 Mar 2009
The capacity for empathy is important to the human community, and the art classroom provides a unique environment in which this capacity can be developed. Connections to objects of art and material culture, as forged by individual students and also shared with classmates, can be as empathic as they are meaningful. An openness to others and their ideas, or what can be called "empathy", is fundamentally important to art education as students must learn to cross political, cultural, and religious divides if they are to understand increasingly accessible global images. Today, art educators can turn to neuroscience for "empirical" evidence that convincingly supports Gablik's vision of a "connective aesthetics" as actualized through empathic classroom connections. Neuroscientists investigating the recently-discovered mirror neuron system in the human brain have now identified the neurological basis of empathy. From this perspective, empathy is characterized as a human capacity that, according to the noted neuroscientist, Vittorio Gallese (2006), "allows individuals to understand the world of objects and the world of others." This article considers such a view, the empirical evidence upon which it is based, and discusses implications for classroom practice. Presenting anecdotal evidence as well, it examines the relationship between mirror neurons, empathic social interaction, and aesthetic response as it developed in several preservice art education courses. (Contains 2 endnotes.)
National Art Education Association. 1916 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191. Tel: 703-860-8000; Fax: 703-860-2960; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A