Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Nancy J. Evans


Four philosophies of adult education---liberal arts, humanism, progressivism, and performativity (educating for economic production) were used to structure and interpret this study. A body of literature has addressed the growing symbiosis between adult education and the development of productive human capital in knowledge-driven economies, as reflected in the discourse of organizational learning and learning organizations.;Although philosophical and theoretical discourse has become increasingly polarized, adult education approaches are almost always discussed in the context of formalized programs and outcomes. In contrast, the idea of "living room learning," (Pestalozzi, 1898), that teachable moments occur throughout everyday life, was integral to Victorian-era conventional wisdom and informal instruction explored in the dissertation.;With the 20th-century rise of Modernism, science, and changing beliefs about human nature, the decorative, functional, manual, corporeal, sentimental, and female lost their cultural privilege to theory and design classified as rational, intellectual, and male. With power associated exclusively with the public sphere and "disembodied," technologized workplaces (Hart, 1992) increasingly the norm, personal aesthetics and bodily engagement with material reality have been disparaged as a topic for research and human endeavor.;The dissertation explores the repression of domesticity that gave way to a revival of interest via self-help media. Narratives from five self-directed learners/informal educators were constructed through phenomenological methodology employing semi-structured interviews and observations. The participants work with and teach about historic artifacts including household objects, buildings, and costume. Their acquisition of expertise; the settings and materials of instruction they employ; and the philosophical foundations for what they do are described in their narratives and the interpretation of findings.;The high degree of satisfaction the participants expressed about their overlapping learning/work/leisure, exemplifying a state of enjoyment Csikszentmihalyi (1990) labeled flow, is contrasted with discourse describing boredom, anxiety, alienation, and isolation commonly created in knowledge age work and instructional settings. The study suggests that domestic spaces and the material objects and structures that define them are significant in both expressing and shaping human subjectivity in cognitive, psychological, political, and economic realms. The concluding chapter uses creativity research from three perspectives to explore the potential of aesthetic-focused education and training approaches.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Deanne S. Gute



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

374 pages