Q is for…

…questions…questions, questions, questions. Sometimes I am too inquisitive for my own good. I know I am a girl who asks questions. Sometimes it is good to ask though, isn’t it? So a question to those that know me, do I do this? Is this a Marsden trait and idiosyncrasy? I think I have spoken of these before in a previous post. Everyone is individual though. Each with their own ways and methods. Speaking of methods…onto methodologies and the PhD. Always thinking…

The week commenced with a group PhD tutorial. As ever Miss Marsden was a little worried. As RJW tells me, worrying will get you nowhere. I really did have nothing to be concerned about. Darren, Joshua and I had some very interesting discussions. The session began with the dissemination of feedback and outcomes from the meeting with Joshua, Sally Lai and Ying Kwok at the Chinese Arts Centre (CAC), Manchester. We discussed how my research will relate and link to their exhibitions/events/education programme and also what different practical methods I could use to develop my research, mentioning the use of future CAC artist in residence as case studies. This will specifically working with and alongside artist Eastman Cheng who will observe, analysis and create ‘objects’ from the perspective of a foreigner. Eastman views an artwork or ‘object’ as a recorder. It visualises experience, records her hands movement and in the act of making, it collects the trace of her heart. She will create a series of ‘objects’ from her impressions of Manchester and its people, so that these works will imitate British culture. Eastman wishes to ask members of the public to loan sculptural works and make use of them in their homes. She will then photograph these objects in situ. In my view, her examinations of “foreign” and “foreignness” will make it a successful case study to document.

Also highlighted during the tutorial, was how important the translational route is during the artistic practice process, not just the curatorial process…how do artists perform in a different artistic/cultural environment? Talk then moved onto how I categorise those that will interviewed as part of the methodology. It was deemed appropriate for the 9R that I did an intellectual breakdown, and then, for my own reference, a breakdown based more around their individual or collective location in the world. From this, it became apparent that it will also be necessary to include a timeline as part of the 9R, or a GANT chart…some sort of organisational research structure that shows what I will be doing over the next few years…a suggestion was made to do it in phases. I like this idea. “Phase  1 of the PhD will be…” like it is a scientific experiment, or space exploration. Well, in some respects I am investigating space…curatorial space. Right, I’m now waffling. Final thoughts of the session were into my process of learning Mandarin and how it is now NOT essential or crucial to mention it as an explicit point within my methodology (this will also avoid confusion in relation to the linguistic/language definition), but rather mention it within the research training section of the 9R form. I feel better about this as I was frightened about needing and attaining a certain skill level. So far it has been a tough battle. At each Mandarin class I feel as though I take two steps forward and then five thousand back. Hmmm…I have put a call-out for one-to-one tuition but to no avail. I just think I would learn more this way than on a group basis.

Another day of tutorials, and on this occasion something new, a group tutorial which I think went successfully. It is always good to get other people’s responses and perspectives. You can get quite immersed in your own practice and become blind to how it can develop. One particular student I managed to touch on my research with as we spoke of her own investigations of language and translation in a universal context. Very interesting work, post-colonial references and reading material will be heading her way that’s for sure. Of use I hope. It was a day of encouragement though…encouraging the students to turn the final semester fear into enjoyment. These few months are the time of their lives…I can remember how exciting it was, and to be honest, you don’t really get the facilities and opportunities, or the space thinking about it, to make and create work like that again…unless you have the funds. So students, if you are reading this, take fear by the hand and lead it into creativity, energy, spontaneity and assurance that you will make it to the end ok. And most of all HAVE FUN in the process. As part of that day of teaching, I gave out my ‘Evaluation of Teaching Session’ questionnaires and got many back, with good comments including “Well-prepared, helpful advice, critical input and adapted to my pace and tutorial needs” and “knowledgeable about subject and helpful with resources”. I must be doing something right. Although, I still think I need someone to objectively observe me and analyse my teaching methods. From a professional perspective, I think it would help me to clarify my skills and teaching styles and build up my confidence levels. It can be scary sometimes. This was actually one of the points raised in the feedback gained from the recent essay I did as part of the SEDA PPG course. The assessor, Alan Mortiboys, called my essay “an interesting read”…well I knew it might be a little more creative than the average Joe’s piece of writing. With mostly positive comments, he asked me to consider whether my feedback forms encourage improved development in my teaching, and whether I am willing to continue to teach beyond my expertise in order to develop as a teacher or should my teaching always reflect and incidentally develop my expertise. The funniest thing was his final point, which focused on a quote that came from the mouth of RJW…typical but hysterical…

“…respect for students is essential and your colleague Richard’s phrase, ‘with the learner always in mind’, is one to remember. In being a teacher, I would say that passion and commitment to your subject should be matched equally by passion and commitment to your students’ learning; you need to be as student-centered as you are subject-centered.”

Point noted and taken on board.

The artists’ talk at the AirSpace Gallery for the exhibition \”home\” will take place on Saturday 27th March 2010 at 1pm. See the flyer below for further details and come along if you can! It really would be great to have lots of people there to hear the discussions between Senior Curator at the New Art Exchange, David Schischka-Thomas, and artists Chinmoyi Patel and Kashif Nadim Chaudry. The event is also followed by an informal drinks closing reception.

Design by Phil Rawle, Wren Park

One final thought…I am trying to decide on which TED talk to select for my next SEDA PPG teacher training session…I am torn between Daniel Birnbaum’s talk at TED Global and Ken Robinson’s take on schools killing creativity…I’m not sure if the latter is even appropriate considered I’m doing a teacher training course! Please send in your votes (well comments or emails)…your thoughts?

2 responses to “Q is for…

  1. you know thats why I ran out of energy for lecturing i think. I cared more for my subject than the student. I was enthusiastic and when on form could communicate that but it wore me out and in the end i just didnt care! I am glad that I realised and didnt just become one of “those” teachers!

  2. My you’re a busy girl aren’t you! watched the ken robinson talk this morning and really enjoyed it but my vote would be for Birnbaums curatorial talk – really wanted to watch that but can’t find the link to the video only the talk notes 😦

    Hope the artists talk goes really well – the show looks fab from what I’ve seen online.

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