The ‘Other’ in Ourselves: Exploring the Educational Power of the Humanities and Arts

Maite Santiago Garabieta


Humanities and arts have been considered some of the central legacies of the former classical civilizations and ancient civilizations. Taking this knowledge as a base, the cultural-related disciplines or fields of study that humanities and arts cover have been working deeply along the centuries. Likewise, this evolution of the production of this knowledge has been widen and developed in deeper ways and with more empirical methods.

The book “The ‘Other’ in Ourselves: Exploring the Educational Power of the Humanities and Arts” edited by Medeiros, Niles-Yokum and Howe aims at strengthening the link between education, humanities and arts. Particularly, this work aims to explore the potential of different productions in arts and humanities for education. In this framework, the book shows the readers different ways of making use of humanistic and artistic resources as pedagogical tools for gerontology and geriatrics education. Moreover, some evidences of the positive validity of these actions in different fields of teaching-learning techniques, applied in different educational levels and with a diversity of participants are also integrated. Overall, the entire book follows the purpose of connecting these educational processes with the experience of ageing.

Medeiros discusses in the introduction how useful tools’ cultural representations are, despite the decrease of humanities and arts in education over time. She strongly argues humanistic and artistic productions are valid and powerful instruments in gerontological and geriatric education. This potential enables the participants to develop a new critical and complete vision taking into account other people’s perspectives and the ‘Other’ in themselves.


The compilation includes five chapters. Each of them tackles a particular strategy to introduce arts and humanities with students or older adults in a successful and meaningful way in educational settings. The first three chapters put the spotlight on some forms of expression such as novels, reminiscences and other multimedia resources to emphasize their significant value to handle ageing issues. Chapter 1 starts with an introduction of novels as a pedagogical tool. They link the advantages of the use of novels in classrooms in relation to critical reflections and better perception of the support of ageing services.


The second chapter aim was to show the impact of using participants’ written reminiscences in order to link them with the author's own experiences. The research pointed out and developed the pedagogical method that worked effectively in: clearing some theoretical concepts, encouraging group discussions, and developing social skills for transferring them while breaking the traditional and fixed constrictions of ageing.


The third chapter brings up the incorporation of the arts and the humanities as two main resources in an interactive online course. The article describes how some dramatic, artistic, cinematographic, dance, musical and multimedia tools were implicated as pedagogical approaches in an ageing and arts course. The principal achievement of the practice carried out was to develop an interdisciplinary collaboration of a community engagement learning-based model, in the field of science and art in relation to ageing.


The interactive theatre has been presented in the fourth chapter as an engaging tool for provoking the audience the feeling of taking care of LGTB aged adults. It was focused on representing the usual challenges that LGTB older adults have to deal with if they do not use the services they need.


Finally, the book presents a research carried out during a pilot interprofessional training course. The design of the course magnified the knowledge and awareness on ageing between different professional groups using the storytelling technique. After having finished the training period on various experiences of ageing, the participants’ feedback puts the focus on the positive impact of having mixed interprofessional and interdisciplinary arts-based training.


Through the practices presented, there are clear evidences that arts and humanities could be effective pedagogical tools. In this case, the authors especially highlight their positive impact for working on the issues of ageing and gerontology. For these reasons, this book is a highly recommended tool for educators and researchers working in the areas of education of ageing and gerontology.


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RASP - Research on Ageing and Social Policy | ISSN: 2014-671X

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