Saturday, 1 February 2014

#rhizo14: W3: Embracing Uncertainty

I’m really setting my own curriculum this week - too busy yet to engage with much of the course - except reading a few blogposts - and wrestling with my own version of uncertainty. So we co-developed and hosted ALDinHE’s Look-Make-Learn Visual Transformations in Learning, Teaching and Assessment Conference - and that was us embracing uncertainty. 



I couldn’t quite believe how nervous I was at co-running an event that was supposed to be *fun*… but perhaps that was the point. In these target-driven, league-table-orientated times; the notion of running an event designed to be enjoyable and inspirational – with spaces for participants to set their own goals, define their own learning, take away their own messages…suddenly seemed not only uncertain but quite literally foolhardy. Oh good grief – are we ready for that!!

So on Tuesday 28th January we transformed our teaching room: tables were covered with sugar paper, there was plasticene, fat colourful felt tips, multi-coloured paper, collage materials – and beautiful golden toffees… The space was joyous, the people willing… the activities engaging (and – dare to say it – jolly good fun) … The day was joyful.

Prof Digby Warren opened the event making a pithy case for the value of the creative arts across the disciplines; to encourage deep inquiry and alternative modes of thinking and being. Pauline Ridley had us drawing on the table – and inspired me all over again with her arguments for visual practices. I especially love the account of the Community Arts Project where the overalls were the embodied Learning Logs – instantaneous and alive – and when mounted on mannequins a bizarre but beautiful exhibition of the learning that had taken place.

Debbie Holley and Phillip Howlett from Anglia Ruskin’s Education Dept. demonstrated a project they ran with trainees science teachers – where they made stop-frame animations of scientific topics… and had us making our own stop-frame animations to boot. I have never before seen so many adults having such meaningful fun with plasticene!

Tom Burns and I (Sandra Sinfield, that’s me) celebrated the cool MOOC learning (you know who you are #edcmooc, #artmooc, #artinquiry, #ds106 – and, yes, #rhizo14) that we’ve embedded in the deleuzian module (oh yes!) Becoming an Educationalist. Fun was hopefully had exploring the role of Collage, Cabinets of curiosities, Memory envelopes, Installations and Digital art - for teaching, learning and as creative research methods – especially when everybody got cutting, sticking, making, doing, looking and learning.

Chris O’Reilly introduced some of his reflective animations before prompting everybody to produce their group animation of the day – and Visual Scribe Raquel Duran in a coup de theatre recorded the whole event on the wall!

But as I’ve said before - those are just words! Check out Chris’s website of the day:
http://learning.londonmet.ac.uk/epacks/look_make_learn/ It’s chock full of the animations, the wall art, the voices, resources, PowerPoints and PDFs… and links to a host of pictures that just burst with the energy that was there – and no – that wasn’t a kids’ party – that was what happens when academics do it with colour!


I started the day literally shaking with uncertainty: would there be confusion – revulsion – revolt – hostility? Worse – would there be laughter – derision – shame? I don’t know – may be somewhere there was – but you know what – it looked like a great day – it sounded like a great day – and I experienced an uncertain joy!
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