From time to time, pedagogy enters a period of unease with the rational forms of its content, structures and action-guiding rules. During such periods, a reorientation towards the aesthetic dimensions of education occurs and the necessity of aesthetic formation is reasserted. This type of formation is meant to abet sensuous impressions supplementing the functionalist orientation of education and to convey other forms of experiencing the world and oneself.
Aesthetic experience, in which the boundaries between outside and inside dissolve and the aesthetic object and subject become interlaced, is central to aesthetic education. The aesthetic experiences which are thus produced are sensual and pleasurable; they do not depend upon conceptual thinking. At heart, aesthetic education is not oriented along the lines of rational or scientific thought, but rather along the lines of a manner of thinking and feeling unchained even from the striving for insight and knowledge. It aims to make accessible an experience of the manifold meanings the world can take on and the myriad ways in which these may be interpreted and to give insight into the plurality and diversity of subjective aesthetic constructions. On this basis, the point is to give children and adolescents, within a sphere of action characterised by tensions and contradictory demands, the possibility of developing a kind of "aesthetic wilfulness" as a capacity for self-development and self-determination.
As the subject of aesthetic education is different from that subject which is called upon to navigate through everyday existence, it may conceive and practice within literature and art forms of self-determination which are impossible to put into practice in other areas of life and education.