Sunday, 30 March 2014

#LiveArtHistory W5 Sketchbook 4: short and long writing

The optional assignment this week was to write at length about something that takes very little time to happen - and to write very briefly about something that takes a long time to happen - and to do each three times. I loved this exercise - the short and long writing - and being forced to do each three times. For the long writing about a short thing I chose to do the sneeze - and for my short writing about a long thing I chose to write of birth/life/death. I have included all three versions here - I loved that I had to do it differently each time - and I think I did it. 
Lessons for practice: This is definitely an exercise to build into teaching practice - to allow students to just free write and to start to develop a writing self - and to demonstrate in practice that there really is more than one way to answer an essay question.

The writing:
I felt it coming – the tickle, tickling tickled sensation at the back of my nose – down into the deep depths of my whole body. Toes clench, muscles bunch – the diaphragm contracts, roils, bubbles and bursts – the rush – the noise – the expulsion of a burst – an explosion, a ratcheting convulsive bang of AIR thrust through spaces too small to contain the power – the force - the sheer amount of air – from tubule, bronchial, lobe, lung – trachea – nasal passage and OUT through nostril – mouth – nose – body – the SNEEZE!!!
Nasty brutish short.
A light cool breeze caught my ankle – and a sudden shiver ran through and up. Hairs stood erect – puzzled. The feeling became muscular – a dissonance – and a shake – a shiver, a shivering… No! Doubt – resistance  - confusion… What? Why? How? And still it came, building force – gathering pace and power – and bursts – erupting – eruption – the body twisting turning resisting fighting – giving in releasing exploding imploding outploding bursting – BANG. The SNEEZE!
Birth Movement Stopped
Wet dripping force and energy – a twisting and turning – a damp a wet a movement an eruption a dissonance and a confusion a roil a boil a convulsive burst of air and noise and resistance and acceptance – an in – and an OUT – oh such an OUT – such a bang a burst an explosion of self of noise of release of anguish – am I ill? Is this a sneeze or the biggest big bang my personal beginning from nothing comes noise and wet and air and… collapse.
Leap Life Lost.

Friday, 28 March 2014

#LiveArtHistory W5 – If we had but world enough and time: Time and Motion

This week we explored the quick and the dead – the performance and the time it takes to produce the performance. There was much emphasis on the role that photography played in stimulating artists in other media to think differently about their own relationships to image/time. This emphasis launched by re-visiting Jeff Walls 1963 ‘Sudden Gust of Wind’ – photomontage, history-painting-type photo-image: of a moment frozen, motion stopped. More challenging perhaps would be Warhol’s ‘Sleep’ five hours and twenty minute film of a friend – asleep. This, easier to engage with than Marcay’s ‘Clock’ a twenty-four hour video installation with each second a movie frame… Or Eleanor Antin’s ‘Nude’, carving her body with a 37-day crash diet – recorded four photos a day…

And suddenly we are drawing connections between stop frame animation and the still life – or as the French term them: nature morte. And we see the parallel in Art History and animation: the impact when what should be still, is quick. Hence Jason’s fighting skeletons and Burton’s ‘Frankenweenie’.
The Interview: This week Chi-Wang discussed the Wooster Group Hamlet:
Three-minute postscript:
Nine minute clip:
And we were asked to recall influential Stop Frame Animation…
From when I was very young – some stop frame and some puppetry – magical – Bill and Ben – this from 1953:
Creature Comforts – Nick Parks.
Or as they put it:
This week we will explore different ways in which visual artists have engaged with time-based experience, motion and narrative. How do artists evoke ephemeral sensation in fixed images? How did the invention of photographic technologies cause artists to think about time differently? How did the invention of film compel new narrative conventions of telling time-based stories? By slicing reality into finer and finer intervals artists alter worlds into an experience that moves faster than the eye can see (and perhaps even faster than the body can consciously experience). Alternatively, the same technologies challenged artists to reconnect duration to affect by working in “real time.”

Optional Sketchbook Assignment 4: Keeping Time

Track A: Using any media you like, make a work or manipulate an image in such a way as to exhibit the process of making or unmaking as a quality of time or duration:from slow to fast, as a sequence of one thing after another, using repetition, or abrupt transitions or gaps and blanks, giving the effect of a single glance or a long slow stare or …? 
Using the same image, repeat the above two more times but differently each time… include 2-3 sentences about your process and what aspect of time or duration you wanted to convey in the work.
Track B: Write a long paragraph about something that happens very quickly (it can be something “real” that you observed or a made-up event). 
Then, write a sentence about something that takes a very long time indeed. 
Using the same events you chose to describe above, repeat steps #1 and #2 several times, rewriting the events differently each time. If you wish, select one of your texts (either one of your paragraphs or a sentence or both) and post it in this forum … include 2-3 sentences about your process and what aspect of time or duration you wanted to convey in the work.

Further Reading

Jeannene Przyblyski, “Moving Pictures: Photography, Narrative and the Paris Commune of 1871" in Vanessa Schwartz and Leo Charney, eds. Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life (UC Press, 1995)

W10: #rhizo14: Disrupting learning: Creativity in arid landscapes

Creativity and the art of thriving in arid environments (Mar 22 - 30)
And the Trickster spake: After a couple of days required for a creative break, here it is Week 10! In thinking about the topic that I would propose for Rhizo14, the mental image that came up was a desert, and Dave Cormier's evil Japanese plant that grows like crazy. Of course, I wasn't quite sure what to make of this mental image, until I asked the all powerful crowds in the facebook group and it seemed to be that creativity was a topic that many people wanted to tackle. So here we go, Creativity: The Art of Thriving in Arid Environments.
This topic is wide open, it can be about your own personal creativity in education, it can include face to face and online, it can be about any subject - not just art. For instance, how does one creatively move through obstacles in their own organization in order to improve that organization? How do students stay within confining rubrics yes exert their own creativity in their assignments? How do you, as a designer or instructor, act creatively to meet those institutionally mandated goals and objectives for you course while giving your learners something they can sink their teeth into and be engaged through creativity in their learning endeavors?
To bring this to the MOOC realm, xMOOC platforms seem like dry and arid places, all of the creativity has been seemingly sucked from these platforms in favor of video based education. How do you break those system? use them creatively to create engaging xMOOCs? Will they still be xMOOCs if you do something creative with them?
How do YOU see creativity, and how would you respond to a criticism of creativity?

Hey you – don’t touch that – touch this!
We are learning developers (LD) and educationalists teaching mostly F2F – so here’s a response from that perspective rather than from a MOOC one. A big aspect of LD work is to help especially ‘non-traditional’ (NT) students become familiar with and powerful within the exclusionary practices of HE. If we were being Deleuzian (1987, 2005) but critical – we might argue that we were re-territorialising that student to enable them to participate successfully in HE (see arguments about skills – socialization – academic literacies, Lea & Street 1998). More hopefully our new Year-Long Becoming an Educationalist module creates spaces, fissures and cracks for students not traditionally welcome in the academy – spaces for them to re-territorialise as educational nomads.

We wanted our course to both empower students and to critique the reductive nature of education per se. Our fish swim in educational currents composed of the over-riding narratives of assessment, SATs, League Tables, OFSTED and other inspection regimes, moral panics about plagiarism – and the ‘dumbing down’ of education (viz. that great Starkey quote on our University: there are Mickey Mouse students for whom Mickey Mouse degrees are quite appropriate). It is an education system moulded by neo-liberalism and, in the UK, the sense that the market will solve all our problems.

Our module was designed to empower in and of itself – and to act as a tool or lens to critique reductionist education and reductionist curricula. The module includes some direct didactic teaching alongside active and engaging learning: Role playing and simulations; Creative and visual learning strategies, see; Inquiry Based and Problem Based Learning; Reflective learning; Drawing, Poetry and Prose analysis and discussion; Analysis of Educational Policy documents; Research projects; Resource/artefact production; #ds106 and development of a digital self; Peer Mentoring; Contribution  to the University’s annual student-facing Get Ahead conference

Students are expected to talk, listen, discuss and be with (Jean Luc Nancy) each other; they are expected to attend Music improvisation and Dance workshops – and to design and present their own interactive workshops. They are expected to make notes, read actively and interactively and share their findings – and also to produce collages, blind drawings, conference presentations, real research and digital artefacts. We hope that they join in with energy and enthusiasm to all the different things that they are asked to do – and then to make the learning conscious… especially in their blogs.

Narratives of the self: a space for real writing
There is much research, both anecdotal and more formal, on the fear that academic writing holds for students. In a study at our own University Burn, Burns and Sinfield (2004) found that even successful PG students said:
‘I’m still not sure if my writing is academic. I still don’t know what makes one essay better than another.’
‘I’ve been humiliated in ways that I wouldn’t have put up with anywhere else.’
Arguably the academic essay as a genre exemplifies academic writing per se: non-polemical in form yet inviting certainty of argumentation whilst excluding the personal, the emphatic, the confused, the flippant and the humorous. But these traits can all be valued parts of the individual – needed especially when coping with the implicit threats inherent in transition (Winnicott 1971) into formal academic spaces that traditionally exclude people from certain social, economic and cultural backgrounds. It could therefore be said that writing in the academy acts as a metonym for the academic: implacable, reified, classed. It is the space where our students most feel like ‘a fish out of water’. They are, as with Bowstead’s (2011) student, ‘coming to writing’ passionate, opinionated and eloquent verbally; but ‘we can’t speak as we write’, especially not in an academic environment. This boundary-crossing module is designed to help students enter not only the academic world per se, but also that most tricky academic form - academic writing - including by the quasi-academic writing of the reflective learning log or blog.

Can you blog it?
We presented the reflective log and the Blog in particular to the students as quasi-academic and semi-public space. We wanted to invite ownership: this writing matters – because you have something to say. It is a space to perform one’s self as it becomes academic – and to perform that more wholly than in an academic essay. In both log and Blog you can be playful (Winnicott 1971) – and it is play we need to tackle the threat implicit in transitional spaces – those becoming spaces (Deleuze 1987, 2005) – and it is in play that we are wholly fiercely alive – and fiercely ourselves. We, as with Bowstead (2011) note that in our students all the passion – all that energy – all their power is deemed invalid in the academic essay: it becomes transgressive in and of itself. We hoped that the logs and the Blogs allowed the passion and the play – and that our students would utilize these lines of flight (Deleuze 1987, 2005) to narrate a more powerful self.

Lines of escape/Lines of flight
In stark contrast to the formality of the academic essay, narratives and more personal writing, and multimodal Blogs especially, can constitute the cracks – the boundaries – the borders - the space for disruption, irruptions and eruptions: the place of collision and encounter. Those representations become where space and time collapse – compressed – intensified – because finite – become finite – existing in a fixed placed and time. Their composition emerges from a compressed space, time and setting: meaning and communication become one narrative. And (as Deleuze might argue) this offers an opportunity not to re-trace the compilation of the sign – but a moment – just before it becomes fixed – when all the potential and possibilities still exist. A moment of and for transformation – for recognition of the self … A crack in space and time to re-territorialise educational spaces – to become educational nomads (or as we say in #rhizo14, Knowmads).

Check out Mo’s blog on that A-Maze-ing thing:

References (in progress)
Bowstead, H., 2011. Coming to writing. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, [online] Available at:
Brande, D., 1981/1934. Becoming a writer. Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher.
Burn, Burns and Sinfield (2004) ‘Writing Resistance’ in Discourse Power Resistance Conference, Plymouth University 2004
Burns, T. & Sinfield, S., 2012. Essential study skills: The complete guide to success at university. 3rd ed. London: Sage.
Deleuze G and Guattari F (1987, 2005) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia Minneapolis, London: University of Minnesota Press
Elbow, P., 1975. Writing without teachers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Herrmann, N., 1989. The creative brain. Lake Lure, NC: Brain Books.
Freire – mentoring
Freire and/or Giroux – emancipatory education
Kossak, S., 2011. Reaching in, reaching out: Reflections on reciprocal mentoring. Bloomington, IN: Balboa Press.
Lea and Street (1998)
Nancy J-L DATE
#rhizo14 (2014) MOOC: The Community is the Curriculum (Dave Cormier via P2PU )
Sinfield, Burns and Holley (2003)

Winnicott, D., W., 1971. Playing and reality. London: Tavistock.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

#LiveArtHistory W4: World Making

This week we explored ‘world making’ – where art both constructs worlds and creates a narrative or commentary about the world. We saw different ways of tackling the 2D aspects of flat planes to imply 3D space – with geometry, lines and grids in the Renaissance and with oil paints creating light to solidify subjects bursting out of 2D space, in the Baroque. We considered Mondrian’s refusal to accept this melody and illusion; stripping away shape and shading and texture in favour of flat paint in primary collars. Reality squared. Pollack’s definitely 2D dripped paint canvas, however, draws the viewer into the implied 3D, immersing in a something, an ‘other’, to experience. And thus we see how the artists create specific conversations with their ‘public’ – engaging – challenging – puzzling – distancing - immersing…The conversation created as much a revelation of the world view as the paint and light and canvas.
This week – Drum Roll - First Compulsory Assignments
The courses offers a Track A option – to produce an artwork; or B – writing; or both. In each case the whole assignment requires the preparation and submission of the piece PLUS peer review of three other pieces. If you do both A and B, you will have to peer review six other pieces in total. I chose to do both assignments. Both options were taken from Draw it with your eyes closed: the art of assignment (New York; Paper Monument, 2012). MUST GET THAT BOOK!!
Track B: Thick Description - required us to spend an hour with a work of art – being with it – recording thoughts and perceptions not just of the artwork but of its surroundings… After an hour we were required to organise our thoughts and write a 300-400 word essay, list or narrative.
Mostly it’s brown paper: spending an hour with a primitive portrait of my mother
I live half the week in the country not able to get to a real gallery till Monday, when I hope to see Hannah Hoch’s collages in the Whitechapel Gallery in East London, UK. I wanted to do this exercise with a real picture and not an image on the screen. I wanted to be with a real picture – and to see and feel that experience: to learn to really see a picture by being with it. So I chose a primitive portrait of my mother that I have hanging in the front room – and that was drawn by a friend of the family who is a self-taught artist. I thought that the sitting with the picture would be a meditation experience and that I would learn a lot from it… but again – only if it were a real thing. So even though this picture might not be classified as art by many – it is art to me – and it is real – so this is what I did.

The thick description:
The picture is about 12 X 6 inches on heavy cheap brown paper. It is pasted onto white paper and set within pale yellow card within a light wood simple frame. It is a head and shoulders portrait of Jeanne Marie Victorine Dierrieckx Sinfield – my mother. This picture seems to have captured her at about the age of 69 (1995) – but it is unsigned and un-dated – although I know the artist was Anita Melloche. 
The outline is sketched in with heavy soft black pencil which thickens as the hair is sketched in: unruly as if just back from working in the garden. The pencil outline is filled in with only three colours; water colour crayons of red, brown and white – they sketch in the hair, face, eyes and a red and white striped top. 
My mother would have hated the picture as un-flattering and not life-like; but whilst it is not exactly what she ever looked like – it really is ‘her’. It has captured her eyebrows – those slightly fine, thin eyebrows of old age. The eyes below are a bit doe-like, a bit cartoonish – not ‘real’ at all – but they have her direct gaze – and are somehow brave, strong – full of character. 
The character is also there in the closed mouth, the calm. The face is slightly at an angle looking to the right of the frame, her left. The left side of the portrait feels more three dimensional than any other bit of the picture – due to the white highlights that bring shape and substance – and push out that side of the face from the two dimensional plane. 
Mostly the whole picture is created by the brown paper; the very few bits of black, red, white and brown crayon create the illusion of the head, hair, face, shoulders and top by laying very few lines on the brown paper: carving the face from the paper. 
The background is simply brown paper; no contextual setting. The most in-filled sections are the hair and the top – but even there – brown paper peeks through adding another colour and another dimension to the portrait. The most amazing thing for me was seeing for the first time how much brown paper makes up the face – and I thought: it is mostly brown paper – and it is my mother. 
Ways of seeing
To spend this hour with a painting was both moving and illuminating. I definitely saw it differently by spending this quiet focused hour with it. At first I just sat and looked and looked – describing things to myself. After 30-minutes I started to sketch the picture and annotate. After that, I painted the sketch – using that painting as another way of analysing the painting itself. Then I free wrote a response – briefly looking at my notes. I could not get in all the information that I had noted down. When it was as edited as possible, I pasted it into the Module Box – and found that it was still 200 words too long. I managed in the end to get it down to 399 words! Dead chuffed with this – and I hope I take these eyes to the Whitechapel Gallery on Monday.
Track A: World in a Box: Using any means, materials or style – we were asked to put together a collection of objects and a means of displaying them. We could operate in 2D as well as 3D – we could make the objects or find them – we could create a narrative or not – it could just be what it is. We had to think about how to display them – and then how to frame them in the photograph.
I like to create spaces around the cottage that are curations or artworks designed to tease or please the eye – to create a look or feel or experience… So I thought that I would photograph and present one of these small spaces. Unfortunately I could not cut the photographs that I initially wanted to up-load (technologically challenged) – and so was only getting a third of whatever world I wanted to share. In the end I worked with this limitation, uploading a picture that would be de facto cut in the Module Box – to create the frame I was after:
Schwitter’s Bedroom: The Buddhist Temple

Schwitter treated his studio as a collaged art spaced – bit like my approach to my home – so a cool title was born. The submitted piece is just the left side of the above picture - just over a third and just under a half of the total width. This cut emphasised the contrast between the Buddhism trail up the bookcase - and the bloody detective fiction that frames it.
End: The Assignments this week were really engaging and thought-provoking. I learned a lot about looking, seeing – and really seeing. Activities that I want to bring into my real world teaching… (Oh and I got 14/15 for the quiz – and I DO KNOW what Baroque is – but obviously did not describe it well enough on the day L )

Saturday, 15 March 2014

#LiveArtHistory W3: Character: Performing the self; reading performance

Portrait, photomontage, studio, daguerreotype, self-portrait, caricature, comic book.
Creates the image
Selects the context
Shapes the meaning
Is subjected to the gaze.
By the gaze.
Essential science:
Innate characteristics.
Created by genes
Revealed in physiognomy.
Some are.
Some get to be.
We are text/context. 
Ask the slave.
Someone else’s story
(And so it goes.)
Some *are*.
Some have the power to *become*.
The camera lies
The Paris Commune
Legs sprawling
Showing – commenting – narrating…
That slippery slope of meaning-making …
Carrie Mae Weems
Re-claimed (those slaves)
With blood and fire.

Homework: two weeks - to follow!
This week's:
 Optional Sketchbook Assignment 2 Follow Up
Regardless if you did last week’s sketchbook assignment or not, or you are just joining us, I encourage you to try this out. For our second critique we are building on the prompt given in the first:
Visit the Sketchbook Assignment 2: Mental Map forum and choose an assignment. Try to spread your attention between assignments that have already received a lot of feedback and ones that haven’t. Prioritize finding an undiscovered gem or two.
Look at the student’s submission. Don’t respond immediately. Give yourself at least a few minutes to really look or study what the student has submitted. 
In your reply, describe, in words, exactly what you are seeing or reading in the student’s assignment.
Then, select two of the following and add it to your comment: What is one thing about the submission that immediately caught your attention? What is one thing about the submission that took you a little longer to discover? What are three questions you would ask this student about their submission? How does the medium/format that the student has chosen (drawing, descriptive text, photography, collage, etc. etc.) affect how you understand the meaning of the submission?
Repeat for another assignment. Try to comment on at least three assignments this round.

Optional Sketchbook Assignment 3: Characters Drawn from Life (and Death)
For this week’s sketchbook assignment we are offering two options: one for Track A learners (more visual-based), and one for Track B learners (a written response). Do one or the other, or both! Please note there is a separate forum for each track. 
Track A 
Look in a local newspaper or online source for death or marriage notices. Find one that is interesting to you but don’t choose one that includes a photograph.
Make a portrait of a person described in the notice (deceased man or woman, bride or groom). Use any means and style that you like--drawing, painting, photography, collage. Think about how much of the person you want to show, how s/he is posed or framed, how much context is given through background, accessories, etc. Whatever you choose to include in the portrait should say something about the character you have chosen to depict.
Important: In respect of others' privacy, do not include any names from notices, or link to them, or use images without permission.
In this forum ("Characters Drawn from Life (and Death) TRACK A"), start a new thread and post a scan of your image. Give your post a title, and submit!
Track B 
Find a public place. Sit down and make yourself comfortable. You might be here for a while.
Watch the people.
Choose one person and invent a life for them. Think about who might be in terms of occupation, relationships with family and friends, pets or lack of them, personal possessions or lack of them, personality quirk

Saturday, 8 March 2014

#LiveArtHistory W2: Story

I can only post a sort of ‘marker’ blogpost for this week; too busy for words: student conference – music improvisation event – all the usual work – started a new F2F course – finishing another MOOC - tons of marking. Hey ho.
But this CalArts course is so excellent, I need to capture it here; if I cannot do all the work this week, I can at least re-visit it later and catch up with myself. I foresee a very visual summer!

Art as story
We explored art as public storytelling, and history- and meaning making from the caves of Lascaux to Persepolis via Davide, Jericho, Monet, Picasso, Kerry Kames Marshall, Jeff Walls, Cindy Sherman, Martha Rosler …
A key implicit theme was power: who gets to tell the stories – who has access to the traditions, resources, vocabulary, training, tradition, time… the cultural, semantic and semiotic capital to make the meanings that count – that stick – that help us become who we are – or that deny us alternative ways of being who we might become.
Out task this week is to tell our tale of who we are in ten images with a very brief commentary: one for after the marking!! But a wonderful additional task for this week is to go back into last week’s assignments and to engage with another participant in a deep and thoughtful way. I have posted useful questions, suggestions and resources below – and these are definitely things that I will be embedding in my own practice as soon as humanly possible.
W2: Assignments
Optional Sketchbook Assignment 1 Follow Up
Regardless if you did last week’s sketchbook assignment or not, I encourage you to try this out. Some of you are already commenting on the work that’s been posted to date, but let’s make our first attempt at critique with the following prompt:
Visit the Sketchbook Assignment 1: My World and the Art World forum and choose an assignment. Try especially to spread your attention between assignments that may have already received a lot of feedback and ones that haven’t. Prioritize finding an undiscovered gem or two.
Look at the student’s submission. Don’t respond immediately. Give yourself at least a few minutes to really look or study what the student has submitted. 
In your reply, describe, in words, exactly what you are seeing or reading in the student’s assignment.
Then, select at least one of the following and add it to your comment:
a.                            What is one thing about the submission that immediately caught your attention?
b.                            What is one thing about the work that took you a little longer to discover?
c.                            What are three questions you would ask this student about their submission?
d.                            How does the medium/format that the student has chosen (drawing, text, chart, etc.) affect how you understand the meaning of the submission?
Repeat for another assignment. Try to comment on at least three assignments this round.

Optional Sketchbook Assignment 2: Mental Map (Tracks A & B)
It’s good to try to know yourself as an artist and visual thinker. And it’s interesting to learn from others. This week I’m asking you to tell your own story in images and words, and learn about things you might not know from other people’s stories.
1.                 In your sketchbook, assemble ten (10) images, books, films, or even music/songs that provide a history and context for your current work or interests in art, animation and/or gaming, whether as a practitioner, viewer or player/participant. Choose works that are important to the way you think, and just as importantly, works that inspire you in ways that you can’t always perhaps put into words. Reach back into your childhood (where you may perhaps find some unexpected sources of inspiration) and look around you to collect some contemporary resources. (This assignment is particularly well-suited to a digital sketchbook, like a Tumblr or blog, but as before, if you are posting content that is not your own, please cite where you retrieved each image with a link.)
2.                 Sequence your images/items in a way that makes sense to you, chronologically or thematically or some other way.
3.                 In this forum, start a new thread. Give your thread a title, write a short intro (100-200 words), and post your images/list of links, or a link to your digital sketchbook/blog where you created your sequence.
4.                 Click “Create New Thread.”

Further Reading and Web Resources:
See the work in fine detail, panel by panel.
A simulated walkthrough of the caves.
Marshall’s 2012 Elson lecture at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., The Importance of Being Figurative, is worth a listen (recorded March 12, 2012).
A list of some photographers working in a way similar to Jeff Wall:
Persepolis (the book), 2003, and Persepolis (the film), 2007
Marjane Satrapi’s 2003 graphic novel is highly recommended, and we encourage you to see her 2007 animated feature, too. It’s available on Netflix if you have access to it in your part of the world (membership required), or on video.
Charles Baudelaire, “The Painting of Modern Life,” in The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays, 1964.
Baudelaire’s seminal collection of essays has been republished widely. Check your library.
TJ Clark, The Painter of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his Followers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1985.
A revised edition was published in 1999.

Friday, 7 March 2014

#rhizo14 – De-schooling to Get Ahead

I have a couple THANKS to offer this week – one is to all those that have buoyed me up during #rhizo14 – and the other is to the student team who devised and delivered this year’s student-facing Get Ahead Conference. They are my answer to this week’s ‘what next’ question: we need a re-schooling rhizome and creative learning space!!

W8: Demobbing Soldiers (Mar 4-?)

“the great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed [is] to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well.” Paulo Freire via Maha Bali
Question: "How can we take people who've spent their whole lives believing that [BLAH] is 'learning' and MAKE them … [plan towards their obsolescence] ? (Remix of Dave's thoughts from week 2 and week 6.)
Demobbing soldier
W8 Challenge: Help us think more clearly (big challenge!). Do we demob soldiers? Do we de/re-school soldiers? Do we mob soldiers? Who needs soldiers? Who is we?
And Sandra says, Thank you to all of you whose blogs, poems, songs, voices and stories have made this such a special special rhizome. Many of you are in the auto-ethnography project – - and you are in my mind and in my heart. 
My small rhizome…
… and one possible answer to this week’s question: keep fighting for creative learning spaces for students. Our non-traditional students especially need physical real world and real time spaces to be with each other to feel their power – to gain their voice – to SING! And that is where our Get Ahead conference comes in.
Get Ahead
Get Ahead is our conference by students for students. Ostensibly an event that promotes study and employability success – it becomes a student generated space where students have permission to be with their University and each other: to experience university as a place of opportunity, energy and excitement.
We sponsor one annually – and each year we recruit a team of students to design the day – to get students to present - to drum up interest – to run the day itself. It is hard work for a small team whose other academic work goes on regardless and relentlessly – and who may also have paid employment and families to support.
So THANKS to the Get Ahead Team! They were fearless in their attempts to drum up interest in the Conference – talking their way into lectures - talking about Get Ahead and talking people into the Conference. It was a buzzy, exciting and engaging event – and they were amazing:
Where next - and how: Staff Buy-in to student as agent
For this student initiative to work, we need Lecturers to sign up to the Get Ahead idea and help to engage their students with the Conference.
One of the Education Studies tutors worked with a Team of Education Studies students – including a couple of our first year #becomingeducational students - to produce a session for other students. They chose ‘Networking’ and spread the rhizome! The Get Ahead Conference and that session were flagged up in Education Studies Team meetings - and those staff recommended the Conference as an Enhancement Week event. Our own 'Becoming an Educationalist'  students had Get Ahead as their Enhancement Week activity - they knew about it – we made time for it - and they attended with a sense of excitement and expectation.
Initiating big ideas like 'student as partner', 'student as producer', 'student as change agent', ‘student as rhizome’... takes investment of mind, body and timetable. We think that it is worth this time and effort...
But how?
One thing this year's Team suggested is that they build on what they have learned this year - and run next year's Conference. They have also suggested that the Conference is 'built up to' from the very beginning of the year - this way staff can write it into module handbooks - and the students can run pre-conference events - with *staff* and students.
The pragmatics
We would love it if staff substituted engagement with the Conference for one small piece of course work; we can offer a menu of possible 'buy-ins': students from one Module could put on a poster exhibition - perhaps students from Work Placement can present about that - perhaps Computing students could run something ICT - Maths students could run a Quants session...  Events Management students might still run the Conference - and if so - Events Management staff would ensure that attending the conference was either a module requirement or an enhancement Week activity for *ALL* Events Management students...
We could go International?
As a second year literature student our Tom ran the first ever International Dario Fo Festival. This event was a mix of academic symposium and Theatrical workshop and performance. Alongside an International Fo Symposium, to which students were also invited, there were theatre workshops for students and people from the local community... And there were big theatrical performances as well – including Fo’s ‘The bosses funeral’ (!!).
This mix of the academic and the theatrical or the more fun elements seems a great model - we can help students do better with their studies and with their job applications - but we also provide opportunities for some of the cultural and play events that the University also offers.
De-schooling society

If students are to embrace different concepts of learning – and the what – where – why and how of it – staff have to buy in to that as well. Or… ‘that’s all folks!’