In this session, we focused on reading Understanding Art: The Play of Work and Spectator.
It was a text that I enjoyed reading as I started to ask a lot of questions in reference to the purpose of education and who education benefits. My first overall ideas and questions centred around the concept of educating the masses versus remaking the public. For me the very idea of the latter felt like an indication that ‘we’ as perhaps educators ‘remake’ the public which then develops into the idea that the greater majority are somehow subpar and need reprogramming and rebuilding. This is in complete opposition to my personal thoughts and ideas as a believer that we are here to enhance and support the development of the toolkits that our students come equipped with.
The idea that the people have been problematised shows a very real problem within society with perhaps a few feeling that they know best and dictating to others how they should be going through their lives – who is the authoritarian? Why do they have this voice?
Thoughts about the ruling class – how do we perhaps overturn this idea of instilling discipline? Education being used as a tool of the state to separate out those who have the resources or capabilities to go against the grain and refuse the imposition of and streaming of groups. Are students being forced to be workers/obedient removing their ability and confidence to become leaders who shape policy and the academic agenda further reinforcing the fact that education is a tool that only a few privileged will be able to take full advantage of?
The idea of the conversation being interfered and altered. A different system and a different way. Tradition as dangerous/problematic.
In addition to discussion of the text by we had participated in an activity which I thought was very clever in encouraging participation. the activity involved a ball of string and a pack of playing cards. Each time a participant spoke they would have to wrap some string around their hand. this actually caused people to become more aware of the power dynamics and how much they may have been dominating/leading a conversation which had positive outcomes in people supporting quieter members of the group to participate more. I would like to use an activity like this intermittently in order to gauge dynamics within a cohort of students and support quieter students to have the ability to take more of a stake in discussions.
In this session, we worked in groups to take a closer look at the assessment matrix and critically evaluate the boundaries and requirements.
The task was really helpful as we all had an opportunity to self-assess ourselves placing coloured squares along each set of criteria according to our personal opinions which forced a critical analysis of self and was compared with the observations of our peers. In addition to this when re-writing the criteria we were very conscious of language and how slight variations of particular words could equate to higher or lower grade boundaries.
I felt this was a useful exercise to complete as had the tendency to mark myself quite harshly based on my activity in that particular session where I had been a bit quieter than usual which didn’t reflect my normal levels of engagement. The activity felt quite like a boost in confidence as my peers looked at my contributions wholistically which reflects what an assessment should look like.
The microteaching session was a brilliant testing ground for me to explore my object-based learning and gain feedback on my delivery. At every point that we have been asked to think about our teaching methodologies and what we hope that students would gain I have always spoken about making people/students feel good about learning.
I delivered a 10-minute session and placed an object (Yoruba talking drum) in the centre of the room and handed out post-it notes. I first gauged the room to find out how everyone was feeling so I would be aware as to whether or not I needed to adapt my style of delivery to accommodate the group – thinking about being high energy or calm and whether or not that would be appropriate to help the group reach the destination in terms of thinking.
I asked the group a total of 6 questions which were designed to support students coming to a point of realisation by themselves without feeling conscious and being able to ask questions and share their understanding of the object. The overall aim of the session was to get the group to realise the importance of multiple narratives and understand the dangers of pre-conceived ideas in the context of objects.
I received a lot of positive feedback from the group as well as suggestions which made me think about how I could support students who didn’t necessarily feel comfortable to share their thoughts and ideas in a group setting.
Vilhaeur’s writing on Human Play was something for great consideration not only in the context of teaching in the context of the art university but it also made me think deeply about the connections to my practice in museums and galleries.
I started to consider how within the arts we are encouraged to explore and test boundaries which all stems from the idea of play and how we develop into adulthood. I carefully considered how as children, humans lack fear and play as a way of informing and navigating their way around the world – again this is a method of testing boundaries and we start to formulate our ideas.
I then wondered what is so different in adulthood? do we cease to play the game or do the rules simply change? The latter in fact is much more accurate. As we age the concept of play becomes deliberate and therefore more calculated very often with the rules being heavily enforced acting as a constraint which opposes the original concept of play being a form of freedom.
The idea of participating in ‘the game’ which can be akin to the university experience builds a certain level of resistance. as with the introduction of new rules and characters, there is a challenging and stretching which causes a constant re-evaluation of self which is critical to development. in acknowledging the players part we equally acknowledge their autonomy which speaks further to the ideas of where the player places themselves and their ability to be self-critical by observing from the outside whilst still participating. It is thought that it is not possible to have awareness of both perspectives as it takes the player out of the game – does this truly stop the player from being entirely engaged?
This week I was (re)introduced to the concept of Higher Education. However, this introduction differed from the norm as I sat in a room in 272 High Holborn somewhere between being an academic/teacher and a student. We were addressed by Dr Susan Orr who aimed to situate UAL and art, design and media education in the wider university context alongside introducing the concept of signature pedagogies which was something of great interest to me.
As I start this new journey into teaching within the Higher Education environment I feel that it’s appropriate for me to take a moment to reflect on my personal experiences and motivations as a vehicle towards the future.
Having always been curious as a child and a teen some of my favourite responses to questions included “how?” and “why?”. These two simple words served me well and continue to do so as an adult as a tool for engaging further in conversations and simultaneously learn new things. Conversation is vital to innovation and I am excited by the prospect of assisting a new generation of thinkers and makers in developing their ideas about the world and their practice through helping them to challenge their initial thoughts.
Over the next year, I am keen to positively impact student learning and experiences by sharing alternative perspectives on theories, sharing key current industry insights and providing food for thought on the gaps I see in the industry. I would like to approach teaching in a holistic way, providing context for new ways of approaching problem-solving. The latter is very important in facilitating a key shift in thinking before students reach the sector. A change in culture starts in the classroom and works for the better. With the last-mentioned in mind, I am also keen to explore research opportunities in areas related to my practice and how we may be able to further push boundaries of the status quo thus developing my own personal learning and experiences.