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Engaging Imagination: Helping students become creative thinkers

February 26, 2017 in Reading Journal

This book explains how creativity is heavily linked to student interest/ attention (of potentially, any subject-whether art & design related or not).

The book also talks about the advantages and pitfalls of the digital classroom environment. And this relates to my recent discovery of MOOCs, which I naively knew nothing about before meeting a freelance client last week, who discussed the possibility of me producing illustrations for a MOOC he is developing with the Cadbury Research Library about their exquisite Mingana Manuscripts collection at Birmingham University.

I also, shortly after this discovery, learn about the inception of MOOCs within the historical context of higher education (at our PG Cert seminar held on 24/02/2017).

Visual diagram breaking down the definition of a MOOC

Image by Mathieu Plourde


This book was useful to me as the language was one I felt could penetrate into my brain a little more easily, like one of the concepts they discuss on modes of learning: to “get the learning to stick”.

I’m still a little hazy on the difference between ‘engagement’ and ‘learning’, but these pedagogical ‘tips’ definitely helped me.

Axiomatic principles that work with students (summarised):

  • make it personal/relate to the learners
  • provide different modes of learning resources
  • ‘jerk them out’ of their comfort zones of learning methods, if complacency is observed.

Breaking down the idea and act of ‘Reflection’ and what it means for teachers and students to reflect. One thing that I’m left pondering about is to explore how I, as a teacher, might understand if a student knows all of the ‘multimodal approaches’ that allow a person to process information. Also, how and when do I gauge if a student, by the point of higher education, necessarily understands what is the most effective approach for their individual learning experiences?

I’m about halfway through this read, but I think I’ll continue to finish all of this and add into this post. It seems as if I will uncover further discoveries I will feel a need to document for my own teaching practices, moving forward.


When We Design for Disability, We Design for All

February 26, 2017 in Reading Journal

A thought provoking TED Talk from Disability Rights Lawyer on essentially, the derivatives of ‘Inclusive Design’ as a concept. I wonder if anyone could argue against this concept?


Learning the term ‘Conscientização’

February 19, 2017 in Reading Journal

Cover of book with the same title

I’m not the greatest at articulating intellectual terms. So I was a bit apprehensive about starting to read this book. I’ve decided to take it in bite-size pieces, to let it sink into my (sometimes feels like a pea-sized) brain.

So I’ve just begun to digest the foreword and the preface to give myself a chance to take in what this book is all about (though I have some idea, of course). Already I feel I have new things to take on board as well as aspects to drive me forward with learning to teach well.

The foreword was more interesting than I thought to read, because it reminded me of my own experience and connections with Brazil (where Friere was from). I knew about the thirld world state that Recife was and still is in (where Friere was born). I’ve worked with artists from the North East of England that connected with artists from Recife (North East Brazil) to collaborate on a commission for the 2012 cultural olympiad. Friere also draws from his experience of working in deprived areas such as reform adult education programmes. This reminded me of my  own trip to São Paulo to research and deliver training for the 2016 cultural olympiad in access to the arts for all in Brazil, including development of arts outreach possible in Brazilian prison programmes and amongst favela communities (deprived areas of extreme poverty).

A new word from the preface for my vocabulary (and limited knowledge of Brazilian Portuguese):

‘Conscientização’  as Friere describes it, is to ‘to take action against oppressive elements of reality in the context of  learning to perceive social, political and economical contradictions.’ This has blown my mind a bit!

But I understand it, and perhaps wish I was aware of it when I was studying on my postgraduate degree, I think I was acting out ‘conscientização’ on some sub-conscious level, expressing it through the work I produced during that course. Funny how I could immediately draw on that experience from reading this and reflect upon it after many years. Being aware of it may hopefully be of use now for any students I teach.

I absolutely connect with Friere’s sentence which introduces the book in a way that strives me to delve in and persist with learning about his theories even more: ‘….From these pages I hope at least the following will endure: my trust in people, and my faith [in men and women] and in the creation of a world in which it will be easier to love.’

For is this not what all of us want?






Additional exhibition focusing on Gender

February 13, 2017 in Reading Journal

As well as the Museum of Transology at the Fashion Space Gallery, my attention was brought towards another exhibition for me to visit, which may help me with writing my first blog on ‘Gender’ for the Inclusive Teaching & Learning Unit:

‘Ken. To Be Destroyed’ at LCC with a tour on 14th March around the display, but showing until 24th March.




Understanding your students

February 6, 2017 in Reading Journal

A simple example of how you can show understanding of students’ individual needs, desires and expression, can help to progress your ability to teach those students something useful for their lives:


Do I agree this film’s story is true?

February 1, 2017 in Reading Journal

I came across this film from an email I received from the Guardian. I think it’s a statement showing what we have seen in the past.


I think in recent years, Outreach work in HE sectors and the work of Student Services and Careers available whilst a person studies has vastly changed this perspective. Society accepts more of what was once thought taboo (Mental Health, Anxiety, financial backgrounds, class, cultural barriers). Though more work in these areas alongside current political climates will change perspectives again.


Interesting to revisit: Tedx UAL Talk ‘What Artificial Intelligence Means For Culture’

January 27, 2017 in Reading Journal


(Tutor group meeting 1): Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Art & Design

January 27, 2017 in Reading Journal, Tutor Group Discussions

Some initial thoughts for 27/01/2017 discussion after reading excerpts from:

Liberation, Equality and Diversity in the Curriculum

Retention and Attainment in the Disciplines: Art & Design

  1. In what ways are students shaping institutional policies and practices around inclusivity?

I found this example of how students are actively shaping policies, a short video is found in this link on asking the NUS to investigate and complete an Institutional Racism Review.

I am sure this is one of many examples. In light of the ever-growing focus of fees rising, students have become more aware of the quality of their learning. there is no one archetype of a ‘student’ anymore. Everyone is a student, whether in a HE sector, university building or in less traditional settings.  Some students have vast amounts of experience in certain aspects of life than others.

We all have different learning styles, different expectations from an educational institution. So in light of this need for a better quality of learning some students are finding ways to express their views on institutional policies that may not work for them individually, or even apply to them. One size does not fit all.

Banner with hand written typography 'We Heart Education' With 'He' and 'Art' of the word 'Heart' in contrasting colours black, red and white

Students are evidently:

  • expressing their views vocally and through protest to change policies
  • more reasonable adjustments are being accommodated for students, because they are more confident in asking for aids which will allow them to study better.

2. What progress has been made in terms of inclusivity and ‘liberating the curriculum’ since the NUS report was published in 2011?

Here are some ideas/words/thoughts that leapt out to me when reading through the excerpts of the NUS report:

  • Cultural Competence /Currency /Exchange
  • Asking where inclusivity begins/ends/is reviewed
  • Reflection for students and staff individually and together
  • Student-centred learning
  • Safe environments for critique
  • Confidence building
  • Student-staff exchange of knowledge
  • Object-based learning
  • Liberation of curriculum / de-schooling ‘institutionalised thinking’
  • Connecting with NUS Campaigns to hear the student voice
  • Creating inclusive learning as part of staff appraisal/performance assessment.

Are we liberating the curriculum creatively in the Art & Design HE sector? I have seen an example of this at CSM where a ‘DIY Art school’ was set up in collaboration with live, external arts venues such as the Tate Exchange:

And in another example, creative briefs were provided to a 1st year group in the CSM BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design course, with an underlying objective: to allow the students to familiarise the assessment process staff will use as the framework to mark these students’ work in future. By swapping roles the brief allowed space for students to scrutinise and rationalise this assessment framework with teaching staff, at an early stage in their course

3. How might a diversity audit enhance inclusivity on the course(s) you are involved with?

As a slight comparative to begin thinking about this question, the following link is to a short article in Time Out about people with hidden impairments on their  experiences of seeing live music:

Imagine this article as a ‘mini audit’ of access facilities in music venues. Already I can see that a simple re-design of website structures for these music venues can have a huge impact on the experience of a future customer with  a visual impairment. Changing the environment and the impression of the environment, not highlighting the restrictions.

I wonder if an audit of this kind, if done collaboratively with students, would encourage more understanding of each others’ behaviours, attitudes, of cultural mindsets. What environments has every student come from to be in this same environment (eg the lecture theatre/studio)? Does this differ a small or large amount to environments they are used to working and living in? How confident does that make a person?

I will be working on the Graphic Communication Design course at CSM. With this course and college in mind for this audit, I think a key element to providing inclusivity is to create this safe environment within the group of students on this course. Safe in a sense of every individual being confident to express their ideas in their work without prejudice. This would effectively enhance the group’s confidence in producing work, but also in providing valuable, constructive critique to their peers and even being bold enough to challenge ideas or critiques made on their own work with an intellectual response/reflection.

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