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Fig.1 Chair and shade
It was like being back at school: though the ratio of 15 women to 3 men felt like I’d gate-crashed the girl school’s class down the road; I was educated in all male schools from 4 to 19. Of the 15 two were under 20, two were under 30 and the others above 60 and 70. No difference. Just like school. I recognised this swimming with Masters that given any opportunity to be the child that we were we are.
My relationship with art is an odd one: a mother who taught art, had an MA from Durham University in Fine Art, but who discounted at as a career for any of her children. I took it as far as A’levels (under her tutelage).
In 90 minutes we has some history, so thoughts on kit, then we got on with it. I found a secluded spot in the central courtyard (Jerwood Gallery, Hastings). And picked first on the climbing plants on a wall, and then the chair I’d taken out of the class. My challenge was to look at different ways of adding shade. Eventually I found that changing from pen to cotton balls and ink would differentiate between the object and the shadow. This’ll take further work.
Other learning opportunities over the last few days have included:
Power Boat II (Refresher)
It is eight or more years since I did the course and seven years since I’ve been in a power boat. A bit of it came back. And new stuff was added. I need this so that I can operate a ‘rib’ during ‘racing week’ at the local sailing club: laying the course, keeping an eye on the fleet to rescue and assist. The sea can be choppy, the winds strong. Dinghies go over and their mast can pin them to the shallow sand and grit of Seaford Bay.
How to train a pigeon
In her wisdom my daughter has rescued a pigeon with a broken wing. The RSPB and animal sanctuaries aren’t interest. ‘Ralph’ is now accommodated in a garden shed; shits everywhere but is eating from my daughter’s hand. Muggins will be looking after it shortly of course. The volume of pebble-dash shit is impressive as every shit is onto a fresh patch of shed floor – it will be one shit deep, like a carpet by the weekend.
The exhibition on the designer Ivan Chermeyeff at the De La Warr is so good I’ve been back three times. There is no book on this exhibition, though many of his books are nailed to a table to admire (the page it has been opened at), with a few books you can browse. There is an insightful video too – an interview with the designer talking about how he got into fine art and graphic design from an inspiration father. One of the things he talks about is ‘learning to see’. Had photography not been banned I would not have got out a pad of paper and looked more closely at his collages. Had I not taken such a close look I wouldn’t have seen, with magical surprise, that one was made from ephemera collected at the inauguration of JFKennedy as US President on January 20 1961.
Fig. 1 Some ideas from the Ivan Chermayeff ‘Cut and Paste’ exhibition at the De La Warr, Bexhill
As photography isn’t allowed instead of moving from the gallery with my iPhone or camera clicking at everything and anything that caught my eye I was obliged to get out a sketch pad. Just as Ivan Chermayeff says in a exhibition video ‘most people don’t know how to see’.
We risk making everything too easy with e-learning: photos, screengrabs, instant research, transcripts of video, video as audio only or highlights or summaries thanks to others.
The above ideas were for:
a) A School of Visual Arts talk he was giving with a colleague
b) Arthritis – with letters torn from a type font catalogue and jumbled around
c) Mother and Child in modern art – a signal Magritte or Matisse like cut out.
What I would have missed entirely, and I do it no justice here, is a collage of tickets and seating allocation to the inauguration of John F Kennedy on the 20th January 1961. (Before my time, I’d been conceived a few weeks before at a New Year’s Eve party. Not even I can remember that far back).
Fig.2 Sketch of an Ivan Chermayeff collage/poster using bits and pieces from attendance at the inaugurations of US President J F Kennedy
I wrote this and posted it February 2011 (my Open University) it was an open post.
At what point in e-learning design do you feel that by spoon-feeding learners that you are doing them a disservice?
That learning is better achieved as a result of effort, even through making mistakes.
How, with all these increasingly versatile and ‘easy’ tools therefore, do we ensure that effort is applied, that learners remain engaged?
We show, we test; they read, they write; they work alone, then as a group; they make mistakes and try again. They do something new, they see something in a different way.
The other day I was about to print off a recipe for a chocolate cake that my 12 year old son and a friend were willing to make.
Enlightened by a piece on the use of dreadful fonts in learning and how effective it can be to make information stick I printed out not in Arial or Callibri or Times Roman in 16 point, but in some swirly imitation of Edwardian handwriting in 10 point … beige.
They said nothing. The cake was a success.
Did it the lesson stick?
Perhaps I’ll try again today. Can they make the cake without referring to the recipe?
One aspect of this is slightly disingenuous, my son and I did make this cake together a couple of months ago in a more nurturing, assisting manner in which I played the role of ‘the talking recipe’ with demonstrations on how to melt the chocolate, split eggs, whisk egg-whites and fold the ingredients together.
It helped that my son could teach his friend.
How does this apply to the safe storage of Uranium Trioxide underground or dealing with an asthma patient? Or handling a customer who is complaining of the smell of sewage along their street? Or making a subject choice decision at A’ Level? And how about in the creative industries, as an art director or copywriter, even in Fine Art?
There are environments, clearly, where making mistakes is part of the learning process … but if you learning to fly commercial aircraft or reprocess spent rods in nuclear power, best to make the mistakes in a simulation.
To which I receive the following charming reply.
While learning a new language, some learners prefer to be spoon fed, and some would hide somewhere quietly and never surface to attend any tutorial, despite my persuasion, encouragement, nagging……but I haven’t resorted to threat so far.
I would love to know the chocolate recipe…………
In the cooking lesson in secondary school where I helped out, for example, making muffins, the teacher would demonstrate in the first lesson, and then in the same lesson, the students do some written work, eg, comparing muffin and cup cake, their ingredients, calories, and why A is healthier than B. They also wrote about the purposes of sugar, flour, butter……Students also need to design a box, with labels on, to sell their muffins.
The Students only get to cook it in the following lesson – if they remember to bring the ingredients at all.
I’m trying to say students do not get to cook in every single cooking lesson. There is an awful lot of writing, drawing, designing labels on computer, health and safety and planning involved.
Font – At first, I was wondering if the font was the school’s favourite — Comic Sans? And if so, why do so many men hate it?