Arts Based Research Subjects Ideally Suited to Just in Time Video Reconstruction. Constructionism urges that learning can be a “reconstruction” rather than a transmission of knowledge.
Constructionist learning is inspired by the constructivist theory that individual learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. (Wikipedia2012) The idea that for all ages learning may be enhanced by opportunities to actively make and do projects is popular in all subjects. Constructionism holds that learning can happen most effectively when people are active in making tangible objects in the real world. Practical art based subjects such as Performance, Installation and Visual Arts are a fertile learning environment for constructivist styles of education. Within the context of arts based explorations this way of working is thought of as experiential learning.
Seymour Papert, a proponent of constructionism claimed there are two aspects of the theory that are relevant to project based learning courses. (1980) Papert called on Psychology when he reported that learning can be a “reconstruction” rather than a transmission of knowledge. He would argue that teachers are not tasked to deliver a body of knowledge for students to learn. Rather he suggests we invite them to discover knowledge by providing for them a scaffold network of experimental project based learning tasks. Within an artistic learning schema this scaffolded body of experimentation builds into themed folios of work. Once developed and polished these themed collections become what is known as a body of work.
Tell me and I will forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I will understand.~Chinese proverb
On this account of learning and teaching; a figurative artist would wonder how other artists manage to capture the essence of a figure in a One Minute Gesture Drawing. (Drawing Tutorials Online 2009) Because the capacity toGoogle or to access a link loaded to an online course is so immediate – student’s access this reconstruction of process just when they need it. Following the provided video instruction students are able to practice the technique together and again, again. (Coyle 2010) They can practice when they are working alone, participating in class or working in voluntary groups. During training sessions students are encouraged to be focused and fully aware of their attempts to manipulate materials and observational moments. Learning is thought to be most effective when it is scaffolded as a descreet part of an meaningful activity. The learner experiences satisfaction when constructing a meaningful product in context . [Learning Theory Ac Nov 2012]
Rapid Response in Performance, Installation and the Visual Arts
Situating Constructionism can be thought of as ‘learning-by-making’ but this does not adequately capture the sense of community thought to be ideal for nurturing the creative culture needed for artists to thrive.
An artist’s community is an elaborate, multifaceted network of experimentation, project management, critiques, trial and error and supportive feedback. Constructionism is rich and deeply multifaceted, and very much deeper in its implications than could be conveyed easily. Papert’s seminal book Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (Basic Books, 1980), is a description of children creating programs in the Logo language. He likened their learning to a living in a “mathland,” where learning mathematical ideas is as natural as learning French while living in France. For an example of this living in a math problem see Math Dance.
Networking as Wiring for Learning in the Creative Arts
Artists involved in CLIP’s (communities of learning inquiry and practice) are, if the community is functioning well, a networking system of many little tiny art lands, all interacting and “pinging” off each other. Pinging is intended to be used in much the way that the word pinging is used to denote the bloggers are inspired by and respond to other bloggers often in ways unexpected. Indeed the functionality of online artist’s communities is that they are blogging consistently and critiquing, responding to and empowering each other are art. Tribal Leadership describes the kinds of facilitation required by leaders and teachers of these kinds of class networks and entities. (Logan et al 2010)
The point of andragogy is to free the student so that they have the flexibility to attend class whenever and wherever they can manage. Each artist can choose to work alone in their studio, can regularly attend art studio sessions or flex through a blended mode of participation. So long as students work consistently and remain connected they are a in a mutual feedback loop of creative development. The feedback can be person to person or can be in the form of links to instructional material such as this one about how to paint waves. (Suzie Short Studio 2010)
Beginners Instructional Principles for Problem Based Learning
The reason that communities of learning inquiry and practice thrive is that within the context of problem-based learning, artists are exposed to many people’s opinions about how to approach a topic, technique or medium. By being exposed to a multiplicity of problems and seeing a variety of solutions posed by different members of the community, artists begin to realize that the myth of the sage guru in the arts is disappearing. Artists are connected and able to sift through a myriad of proposed solutions and compliment of approaches. By doing this artist can morph through developing creative styles finally settling on a way of working and presentation that is just right for them.
Although the availability of rapidly delivered information can make this style of learning overwhelming, it also establishes the instructor or facilitator as having a very real and vlauable function within the group. The nature of teaching has been changed and often people say that the teacher has moved from the position of Sage on the Stage to Facilitating Guide on the Side. Or perhaps has taken on the role of a coach who deals with issues such as time management and cooperative structuring. In this brave new world of educational change the only thing we know for sure is that change is happening and that students are driving the change.
Learning Visual Art as a Cooperative Venture
In a CLIP cooperating artists construct their understanding and thematic work through problem based explorations. Mutual explorations of this kind can be very effective. Students try to solve the problems in many different ways and this empowers a vital flow of creativity and stimulation. There is real need for organizational principles to inform a creative artists CLIP and these organizing principles will be the subject of many articles to come.
Below is a list of some of the more basic types of instructional strategies. it is hoped that simple approaches will ensure problem based learning develops to be ever more effective.
- all the learning activities are related to a larger task such as building a portfolio for an exhibition or for an online portfolio. This is important because it allows student artists to see not only how these connections work but continually reminds them that there is a public and a private side to art. Anchoring each segmented activity into a system of chunking and scaffolding will result with the learner finding their explorations of materials, activities and techniques useful.
- artists can be a lonely sensitive bunch! an online community of learners acts as a support network causing artists to feel that they are beginning to have ownership of the overall problem. This is a kind of a dichotomy… the artist is separate and yet whole
- authentic tasks should be designed for the learner that match cognitive, cultural considerations and have relevance within the “life story “ of the artist. This will ensure the learning is valuable. Example Journey to Artistic Expression of Freedom.
- encourage (I would say even demand) reflection on the content being learned so the learner can think through the process of what they have learned. Discussion boards, podcasts, YouTube clips these are all ways to arrange that artists see an idea through and that they develop concepts well enough to present to the whole world for comment.
- allow argument and dialogue, foster an enquiry atmosphere and encourage the learners to test ideas against different views in different contexts. When an art student moves from a stage of enquiry, or to another theme challenge the consciousness of their conceptual transference. It is essential that artists are able to transfer knowledge …..essential! Once techniques have been learned it is important not to get caught up in trying to repeat success; rather artists are encouraged to try these techniques in other ways and to capture related insights.
- Coyle,D (2010) The Talent Code (Read by Telfer, J) TrackList. BBC Audios. (Available Brisbane City Council Libraries)
- Logan,D., King,J. & Fischer-Wright,H. (2009) Tribal Leadership. Kindle eBook
- Papert,S. (1980) Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas, ISBN 0-465-04674-6
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