Micro-Teaching Session : Reflections

Micro-Teaching Activity

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Overview

This was a ten minutes learning activity based around an object chosen by myself. Micro-teaching is something I have already explored with workshops (usually one-day sessions) especially in the arts&culture/gallery setting, working with artworks in the collection to then explore concepts, methodologies and responses further. I have previously worked with children and young people specifically using this methodology, so I found it very interesting to work with a different audience during this task, also focusing on a potentially more open outcome, and also having only 10 minutes!!! (Although it became 15 minutes in order to allow a post-activity chat!)

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Chosen Object

I have used my own notebook-diary as an object. I wanted to open an interaction with it as for me this object is about a collection of time, space, reflection, thoughts, doubts. I also wanted to reflect on the fact that a notebook is a generic object that yet becomes so intertwined with our own identity once we start inputting into it. And so, allowing the focus on my own notebook, I wanted to test if and how some aspects of my identity (precisely some of my Asperger’s/autistic patterns) might come out of it for someone looking at my work diary for the first time, having access to its internal design within my scheduling of each day and week. At the same time, I also wanted to discover some wider considerations and self-reflections that the participants could have brought-up as their responses. I wanted to use this object as a prompt to open a discussion that a longer session could provide in more details, allowing a next step of learning development.

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Activity

I have developed the micro-teaching activity on Wednesday 14th March. I could not attend the micro-teaching sessions at UAL, so I have led this during a mind-mapping/planning/development workshop-day I was part of in a studio-lab in London. The space was informal and this framed a very flexible and open approach to learning. Participants were four colleagues working in the art gallery sector: two artists/designers, one education manager and one learning curator.

I have divided the activity in 2 parts:

(Part_1) five minutes of participants led observation

(Part_2) five minutes of exchange, discussion of “findings”, and note-writing

During Part_1 I have let the participants have an open interaction and investigation of the object. The notebook was first looked closed and kept in the same position on the table. The observation had a macro-angle, with participants looking at its position, angle, binding-closure. The object was then taken by one participants and passed between the others; they observed it keeping it closed for a very little time, but it was then opened and put back on the table. At first there was a quick look through, which then morphed into a detailed analysis of some of the pages…somehow a case-study focus was created, narrowing the observation to seven spread of two pages each specifically. You can can see the material below.

During Part_2, the participants discussed their observations and had an exchange of thoughts and comments. A high quantity of repetitive patterns jumped out to the attention of the participants straight away, as well as a tendency to structure thoughts and keywords into squares, cross-connecting with arrows, having a structured and yet an intense aesthetic that could create a feeling of chaos. Another aspect that was noted was the physical texture of the object; its physical identity was also discussed, creating a parallel with the digital diaries most of the participants currently use.

While chatting, they also wrote down their quick responses into post-its. The post-its were actually taken from my notebook-diary itself, because I constantly use them for thinking and reflecting and they could be found in a pocket inserted at the end of the notebook. Following are some images of Part_02 dynamics + also the written the comments.

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Learning from Activity

After the ten minutes activity, five more minutes were taken by the participants to ask me some questions in connection to their observations. During the ten minutes activity I wanted to leave the participants complete freedom into their interpretation of the object, and so I did not give them any clues and/or specific directions for analysis. But at this point I was finally able to exchange with them too; as an informal chat, the main two key aspects raised for a further conversation were:

Patterns: these are patterns that I mainly make daily to balance my autistic response to a space where I am working/teaching/learning. It is a way for me to filter surrounding data, sounds, and to relax and balance reflections.

Physicality and Texture: the physical aspect of the object is important for me, in its variety of sensory feelings. The texture produced by my drawn patterns builds-up a sense of safe environment, as well as something that I then use in my artistic developments. I often use these patterns and their texture as part of both physical and digital artworks I create.

So, with these brief questions and answers, we (as a group) were opening an input for further reflection/discussion on identity, on personal processing, on learning and neurodiversity, pedagogically connecting to inclusive learning too as a wider topic of observation. This was also connected to other things we were going to discuss during our studio-lab catch-up, so it was a good input for a non-pg-cert related professional commitment.

→ ((( One further feedback that I have found very inspiring for my own learning was about how each page can be extrapolated and become a new object. And actually, that is what happened during the session itself as the group decided to focus on a set of selected pages. I think that was a good step that the group took, but I am glad I did not select those pages myself. I think if I had selected that content in advance, I would have changed too much the possibilities that this activity gave to the participants to make their own choices; I would have limited the agency of the participants in taking that decision. In addition, it could have narrowed down the focus of the session a bit too much. )))

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Conclusion

It is fascinating to look at all the different levels and stages that can be present in only one object, and how much you can explore and widen-up from it.

The diary/notebook as an object allowed a good investigation and freedom of choice for the participants. I wanted to create a session that was in part shaped as participants-led (apart the first chosen object!) and I believe that was effective. When running object-based learning, I believe that the participants’ exploration, their own framing of a potential question and/or interpretation, their immersion in the object considering all potential directions is very important to empower the group. With this activity I wanted to focus on a methodology to allow observational skills, awareness and ability to find a voice in an object, participants-led discussion and exchange, critical analysis. I believe this was achieved in different ways and it gave me good inputs to reflect further into the topic.

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Inclusive – Task_02 – Faith

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Some thoughts written down…mixing-up the readings and related responses…no editing on purpose as I want to keep them as thoughts…some visual inputs…hope it flows!

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I grew up in Italy and I was brought-up as a Catholic when I was a child; art and religion were somehow always the main method and connection, even in education, to teach various catholic/christian values and histories. Major artists in Italian history actually painted, sculpted, drew only the religious scripts and human dynamic coming consequently from it. Many artists at different point of history only worked and made a living as artists because the Church commissioned them to create art that was focusing on spirituality…and power we should add. Power that was balanced for human social constructed needs; power that was given by the strength of the religious architecture, by the dimension of the paintings, by the richness of the colours on the glass-windows, by the complexity of the construction of the mosaics.

And so artistic skills in combination with religion were a way of underlining the beauty of infinite and unknown spirituality as well as framing the human condition of belief and role in society. I even remember the convent and the nuns (who I loved a lot) in my primary school time, and how the space was shaped with paintings and sculpture and floor-mosaics in the context of education too. I don’t commonly connect religion within my own artistic practice and/or academic research, but religion was strongly present at the very beginning of my education path. Christian values are present in my way of being still today, and I have family members, friends and colleagues with a variety of religious beliefs and religions/scripts to follow; open conversation and respect if key.

I also have at least three UAL students this year that are looking at religion in relation to design; in the past there were a few other students looking at religion and race, as well as visual spirituality and social construction. My way of teaching and tutoring in these cases is open as it usually is in other projects; every project needs to be taken seriously and analysed in depth. It is interesting to come to term as well with ethnographic and auto-ethnographic practices and how those can also affect the students’ experiences during their processes. In the UK I find that even more exciting as you have a multi-facet cultural society and so the different angles and perspectives can be better contextualised, maybe focusing on case studies if needed, data gathering, self reflections and visual ethnography. From what I have observed from those projects, it was a flow of questioning faith in relation to art&design and vice-versa….

…and then, connecting again to Modood and Calhoun stimulus paper, this questioning and framing and contextualising comes as well into complex thinking about how identity is formed and shaped by cultural frameworks. In a public scenario, how much space we give to discussion and exchange around the topic, how institutions approach and/or how far they believe in diversity, and how the dynamic of treatment of differences is included in daily practices and not only in a written guideline…

…a written guideline that is then reflected by a political belief of some kind, that might change from political party to political party; of course that can have different degree from country to country, but usually a right conservative perspective and a left liberal political perspective is clearly very opposite and can affect national guidelines on equality, tolerance, respect for difference, help others.

And so, here, I just want to link to that cross-connection about written truths (that is also present in BBC lecture on Creed) and how those truths are used religiously and politically to determine and to shape an ad-hoc social constructed truth. And so those scripts (not only as religious texts but also political programmes) are then interpreted in a variety of ways for power dynamics and can be used to turn people against others (see also the use of social media in relation to that) for various topics of immigration, religious minorities, new sub-cultures forming.

 

Then it becomes clear (at least to me) that the practice of religious values can cross-over obstacles and change (in time and in people and in ideas) that a “following” of a static textual truth cannot give. The complexity of human identity puts us in this reality of struggles…and those struggles can be faced by communication and discussion and respect and openness. And so, as I see these as key elements and ingredients for a better society, I see those as key ingredients of my teaching and learning too.

 

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