N is for…

…neon. Specifically the neon in Harminder Singh Judge’s sculpture Madonna & Child. \”home\” opened a week last Friday night and I think successfully. Well, it went well in my eyes. There were over 80+ people that came for the private view including the artists Hetain Patel and Kashif Nadim Chaudry. It was super special to have their presence there on the night. Also, many students from Staffordshire University and my wonderful friends, family and colleagues were there. Thank you for attending. The refreshments ended up being free, which was a complete added bonus, courtesy of Barefoot Wines. I just hope to get some sort of feedback as I don’t really feel I can move on without it, it seems pointless to have a show somehow if you don’t get some sort of criticism whether positive or negative. The process have been fantastic, somewhat fraught as in timescales but enjoyable nonetheless…especially working with such beautiful artists too, special times.

My latest PhD group tutorial was in a word basic courtesy of my lack of effort into it over the past week or so. The exhibition took over, that’s all I can say. I did have a few minimal notes about the curatorial aspect of my methodology which both supervisors Darren and Joshua gave feedback on. Also, I was trained in the use of Nvivo, a qualitative research programme that is supposed to help you rationalise and organise your research through coding, linking, memos, notes…it goes on. A little tough to get your head round as the programme can do so much. I think it is just a case of dedicating time to it for it to be beneficial…where’s that time though? Can you find it? Sometimes I think it hides from me, like on the top of my fridge freezer or in the garage behind the knackered cans of paint. Help me find it please?

So what to say, as ever this will become a bit of an essay, a novel or a non-sensical waffle. I have completed my second day as Visiting Lecturer in Fine Art at Loughborough University School of Art and Design. Like a doctor, I will maintain student confidentiality and to be honest, not mention a great deal about them but more about the processes I have been through. I have been doing one-on-one tutorials and enjoyed each moment. Different people all day long, different minds, different ideas, different concepts, contexts and of course personalities, diverse peronalities and backgrounds. I completely forgot what it was like back then…the inherent pressure of your final show…assessment feedback…reasoning behind everything. Why, why, why? As part of the tutorials, feedback forms are immediately filled in which has provided instance responses as to how the tutorial session went and it works as an evaluation system for not only the students but for me. It has made me realise I am doing ok, I am heading in the right direction as a “teacher”. That word again. It keeps on reappearing. I have received all positive comments including “these tutorials are extremely beneficial in terms of clarifying intentions”, “really helped solidify my ideas”, “very good, helpful and positive”, “brilliant”, “supportive” and “useful and constructive”. How to maintain this I wonder? In the PPG SEDA teacher training course last week, I was discussing how my first day went. I spoke of how integral it is to provide as much feedback on the forms for not only the student but as a point of reference for myself. Many um-ed and ar-ed about how this wouldn’t continue and institutionalization takes over, you become more and more laissez-faire about the process as other things become more important. Well I don’t intend to, I have realised how important this process is to me and the students to get the best out of what they do.

As for the PPG SEDA teacher training course last week, it was another constructive session all focussed around module design, small and large group teaching, and assessment. The day began with looking at Phil Race’s model of learning and how there are five key terms to this – doing, feedback (which I have just discussed from first hand experience as to how important it is), wanting and digesting, and needing. Seen as ‘ripples on a pond’, it lends itself to providing a solid foundation upon which to design educational programmes such as course modules. Throughout the day, the module guide for the course I am working on at Loughborough SAC117 was always being referenced, where we looked at how it encouraged surface, deep or strategic learning. These approaches to learning were further extrapolated, where specific learning methods as to how to engage these different learners were discussed. The day then moved onto assessment and how individual and varied assessment processes can lead to a more coherent grading and mark. When is it right to assess? What do you do with feedback and how do you collate this after students have left? What are the functions of assessment? It became clear that assessment criterion is essential to the process of marking and grading. Does the criterion allow for different interpretations? It must be explicit to the learning outcomes where assessment cannot avoid being subjective…and that is the hardest thing. The afternoon session took us all into the sociology bean bag room, yep a room full of bean bags. In a word random but a nice way to the end the day. I constructed some sort of mini plateau to sit upon with my feet up, some people looked awkward, but eventually settled into the space. This section of the day looked into how to do successful small and large group work. Ultimately, it was all about organising and planning your sessions around the different types of learners you will and do work with…something for everyone to engage with, to encourage deep learning.

‘The little book of fears…’ is again out on loan being exhibited this time as part of BABL (Bibliotherapy Artists’ Book Library) by Lucy May Schofield. I love the concept of this project as it is so accessible. People can pick up and browse any of the books in their own time. Like a traveling library of sorts.

BABL by Lucy May Schofield

The past week also consisted of a career low for me, rejection from a very much wanted 18-month travel scholarship, a job and a conference all in the last few days…not time to reassess, but build that confidence back up again and understand what it is i’m doing and why. So maybe that is reassessment right? The job rejection was not negative by the way, I received very positive constructive feedback and met some fantastic people to keep in touch with. Tiredness never helps these feeling either, sometimes I am my own worst enemy and need someone to slap me round the face and tell me to get a grip. The realization is that there are more important things in life like you health and happiness and of course your very very special friends and family. It was my housewarming party this weekend, I was so pleased to see all my beautiful people. They make me who I am. And total randomness…that’s the best part of life.

One response to “N is for…

  1. I’m so glad your book’s off with Lucy May Schofield’s amazing project! I enjoyed reading ‘N’, see you soon!
    Oh, and as you always say, Everything happens for a reason…

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