Statement by Leila Rosen, NYC High School Teacher
The picture of Aesthetic Realism that is being put forth on the web by a few angry people is blatantly inaccurate and viciously motivated. As a person who has studied Aesthetic Realism for over 30 years, looked at it closely and tested it, I'm glad to take this chance to counter some of the junk these people are putting forth and to add to the accurate portrayal of what Aesthetic Realism is—and what it isn't.
About Pursuing One's Education
To begin with, the claim that Aesthetic Realism is against a person's pursuing his or her education is ridiculous. I first learned of Aesthetic Realism from a classmate when I was an undergraduate at CCNY. When I began to have Aesthetic Realism consultations, not only did the consultants with whom I studied encourage my academic pursuits (I graduated magna cum laude), but they also showed me that the very subjects I was studying—my interests were primarily linguistics and literature—were related to the things in myself and my life I most wanted to understand. For instance, as I spoke about my confusion about love, I was asked: "Do you think the history of how men and women have seen each other is just as important as the history of language? Do you think there is any relation between the study of men and the study of language?”—and I began to look! And I was encouraged to write about “How a novelist would see my parents.”
I subsequently earned a master's degree in education, and have been a successful and respected high school English teacher for 27 years. During this time, I have taken and excelled in many additional graduate courses. My love for knowledge, which began with my parents' encouragement, has grown with every year because of what I have learned from Aesthetic Realism. The fact that I've been able to encourage this love for learning in my students is an accomplishment of which I am unlimitedly proud.
You may read about some of what I've learned—both about teaching and about life itself—on my website: www.leilarosen.net.
About Aesthetic Realism Classes
I object intensely to the false picture these people paint of Eli Siegel, Ellen Reiss, and Aesthetic Realism classes. I requested to study in classes in order to teach Aesthetic Realism, because I loved the intellectually exciting study I was engaged in, and I wanted to learn how to teach this invaluable way of seeing the world to others. Though I studied with Eli Siegel for only a short time, it was clear to me from the classes I attended with him that the last thing he wanted was flattery or worship. What I did see in him was great intellect and a desire to be fair to whatever he was talking about—the thought of John Locke or Immanuel Kant or Sigmund Freud; the poems of John Keats or Charles Baudelaire or the poetry to be found in the preamble to the American Constitution; economics; the meaning of pop art and rock and roll, to name just a few subjects. And he wanted to be fair to his students—to know them and have them know themselves. He wanted people to use their minds questioningly on the principles of Aesthetic Realism, and was very critical of any blithe and quick agreement. I see this integrity now in classes with Ellen Reiss, and I admire it more than I can say. She is a thoughtful, careful educator, and an immensely kind human being.
As several of my colleagues have eloquently and clearly stated, it is certainly a person's own choice whether or not to study Aesthetic Realism at all, let alone decide one wants to study to teach it. If not, a person is free to enjoy the life he or she has chosen. But saying that there is something wrong with Aesthetic Realism itself because you yourself don't want to use your mind to study it is not only ridiculous and illogical but a cruel lie.
On Friends, Relatives, & “Recruiting”
I have friends and relatives who don't study Aesthetic Realism. I go to barbecues and weddings and parties like anyone else, go to their homes, have them over for dinner. And I don't try to “recruit” anyone. Do I invite people to attend a seminar on a subject I think they'd really enjoy? Of course! Why does this seem sinister? I've also been invited by people I meet at work or elsewhere to attend lectures, performances, and presentations at various institutions, and have been glad to do so.
And mind control? Please! Anyone who has ever met me knows I am strong-willed and do not just go along with what someone tells me. I've used my mind to test whether many things said in this world hold up under scrutiny—from statements by politicians I hear on the news to current theories about how young people learn. I've used that mind on the principles of Aesthetic Realism, and have come to see them as true. I try to live by what I see as true, and that is why I study Aesthetic Realism.
As to vacations, my husband and I have loved our trips to the Florida Keys and Niagara Falls, to various historic sites, to the Dominican Republic, and elsewhere. No one “checked up” on us.
It gives me great pleasure to say some of what I feel about Aesthetic Realism and Eli Siegel, and I am happy to do so at any time in the midst of my very rich and happy life.