Av: Esko Mäeälä (2011)
The chief aim of this thesis is to explore aesthetic aspects of the Swedish school subject of sloyd. The research questions are: What do young people tell about sloyd? What aesthetic resources do they use? How can one describe the relation between what young people tell about sloyd and the aesthetic resources they use? A narrative approach was chosen to learn about activities and attitudes concerning aesthetic matters among young people in the 9th form in lower secondary schools. The empirical study was carried out in three schools including qualitative interviews and visual ethnography mainly considering the learner’s point of view. Findings are represented through story constructions and photographs. Ten stories depict aesthetic and thereto related aspects of which five stories are based on individuals and another five are thematic. Stories and photos were analyzed using an integration of aesthetic, narrative and semiotic methods. Structures of meaning making were identified using three concepts: expressions, personal project, and dynamic process. The results show that aesthetic deliberation in sloyd work is a major issue among young people. Concerns are often based on personal circumstances, such as taste and preference. Aesthetic considerations in the pupils’ sloyd work were found to be directed towards the one’s own room, relations to family members, and/or plans for future engagement in aesthetic related professions. The results confirm that aesthetic expression in sloyd work may be a way for pupils to reflect upon and develop their personalities. I have also shown that sloyd may be a way to represent narrative instances. A second aim is to develop theoretical concepts in the field of aesthetic learning in sloyd. I argue that an aesthetic aspect alone cannot satisfy the concept of aesthetic learning. Therefore the aesthetic learning concept in my study is generated from aesthetic, configurative (cf. gestaltung) and creative aspects, thus forming an integrated aesthetic perspective. Aesthetic objectives were analyzed using Bakhtin’s systemic aesthetics, which identified architectonic instances in sloyd materials and sloyd design supporting narrative elements in sloyd artefacts. Finally I propose a model for narrative understanding of artefacts based on the theoretical concepts mediation and focalization.