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Transforming Rita

“Art is magic… But how is it magic? In its metaphysical development? Or does some final transformation culminate in a magic reality? In truth, the latter is impossible without the former. If creation is not magic, the outcome cannot be magic.” Hans Hofmann

Hans Hofmann was an abstract expressionist. According to the website,  he was “celebrated for his exuberant, color-filled canvases and renowned as an influential teacher for generations of artists.”

In Educating Rita, It was Rita’s ‘exuberant, color-filled canvas’ that first attracted her to Frank (and most undoubtedly also her husband).  It is the part of her that he regretted her losing during her ‘metaphysical development’.  To Rita, Frank was an ‘influential teacher’ – more in the way the authors of Women’s Ways of Knowing describe as a ‘midwife teacher’, one that focuses not on their own knowledge, but on the students.  His quiet and patient influence persisted throughout her metamorphosis.  Through this process, Rita did not only become ‘educated’, she was changed inside, transformed.

Rita could have been one of the students studied by Mezirow – the motive was right – a returning adult woman student; the timing was right –  early 1970’s (when Open University was gaining ground).  Certainly this story is grounded in developmental psychology.  I could almost make the case that her transformation has less to do with her education and more to do with her adult development.  But, perhaps without additional knowledge and experience, she would not have discovered alternate perspectives that helped her to personally mature.

Chicken or egg?  Education or development?  Regardless, she discovered her golden egg.

My favorite part of the movie was when Rita gives Frank, to me, the highest compliment a teacher could receive, “You have given me choice.” She has the freedom of taking what she has learned in her transformational process and doing with it what she will – not what others would expect her to do.  If I were to meet Rita soon after she left Frank at the airport, I would hope she would reflect the intermingling of her exuberant, color-filled personality with her intelligent, curious intellect.  I think she would make a great friend.


“Each medium of expression has its own order of being” Hans Hofmann


3 Responses to “Transforming Rita”

  1. A comment not related to this post:
    I wonder what you find first, your topic or your photo for every blog post. I like them both, all the time. But now that you have posted a photo with eggs, the question becomes, what’s first, the text or the egg pic?

  2. Thanks for the question. Normally, I think of the topic first. I then find an appropriate quote and picture. Occasionally the quote, or the author of the quote, will inspire a different direction on my theme. I search for the picture, though, based on my theme or a key word in my theme. Inevitably, the picture and the quote will assist me in the writing in some way.

    Thanks for the feedback. I haven’t thought about how these work together in the world of metacognition for me before.


  3. J Huebner – you are a great role model for blogging. Thanks for sharing your process.

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