No.4 - The Forest Inside Yourself
the Outside In
Welcome to the fourth edition of The Creative Teaching Space.
I am continuing to put faith in the development of a ‘Community of Practice’ – the buzz word at the moment – and am very pleased with the positive feedback from teachers. It is really great networking with teachers across a range of countries – recent subscriptions coming from Israel, New Zealand and mainland Australia. I look forward to even more contributions and opportunities to work face to face with teachers and schools.
This magazine is continuing to talk about teaching from a practical and creative perspective. There are no banners on this site and no hidden agendas e.g. selling your names to educational supplier lists. I should know. The more I post this site on educational listings the greater the Spam! Thanks to the "Block Sender" button.
I am open about wanting to conduct ‘face to face’ staff development. This could be in Tasmania, mainland Australia or in other countries. It is highly stimulating to meet and work with a variety of teachers. This magazine builds upon knowledge gathered in staff development sessions. I hear about what teachers are doing and feed it into the magazine. Teachers can continue to feel connected through the magazine even if we have met only once in a workshop.
Let’s continue to build ideas, strategies and practical examples that can be used and adapted in teaching. Let’s continue to talk about the how of teaching and how we can learn from each other. If we work in areas as diverse as primary, secondary, tertiary or industry let’s see this as a unique opportunity to talk – beyond the strategic plans, our own subject areas, and well away from the jargon that can so often define yet also distance.
We can share teaching practice and strategies. Above all we can reinvigorate possibilities for learning. We can watch our students grow as well as ourselves. It is great to see students develop new understandings. It is also great to participate in unlocking student learning. Teaching is a very human endeavour and let’s not forget this.
If you have ever been in a very stimulating classroom or training environment then you will realise the potential of ‘face to face’ learning. You will know that e-learning and book learning can be complementary. You will also know the value in a smile and a laugh(s) and how much these add to what we do.
Andrew Lo is an inspirational teacher who knows that learning is not bound by competencies, intellectual and physical walls. Here is a lovely tribute sent in by Geoffrey Waugh of the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
Thanks Andrew, thanks Geoffrey.
Tasmania has a relatively new curriculum initiative called Essential Learnings. It is a framework moving into schools and underpinning the entire school curriculum. Like a range of curriculum initiatives, whether it is those in International Schools or Vocational Education and Training, the guidelines prepare a framework that teachers can use to shape and assess learning.
Instead of being seen as a ‘defining of learning’ this initiative can inform us of new directions as well as redefine what we already do.
There are five streams in the Essential Learnings framework: Thinking, Communicating, Personal Futures, Social Responsibility and World Futures.
The following practical strategies are useful activities within the stream called Communicating.
The examples that we cover are useful for teachers within and beyond Tasmania!
Within the five Foundations for the Essential Learnings are:
Included in the Communicating section is the key element of Being Arts Literate. This edition of The Creative Teaching Space will explore creative strategies that teachers can use to support this element. Future editions will cover the other 17 key elements.
As with all the key elements, students move from a basic understanding of the forms of the area to a more sophisticated understanding that these forms can operate for varying contexts and audiences.
In plain English this means that once a student has been introduced to e.g. the basics in film, such as editing and framing, that he or she grows to understand that film comes in a variety of forms – genres and styles – and has a variety of audiences as well as cultural and historical meanings. Of course with deeper awareness the student sees film in terms of its social and ideological influences rather than just being a visual language.
Let’s look at a variety of strategies that can assist students to move from an awareness of form, and an everyday relationship to the arts, into a deeper appreciation of its style and influences on society.
Let‘s get practical!
Being Arts Literate
Performance Guidelines: Arts literate students use and respond to the symbol systems of media, dance, visual arts, drama, literature and music to express, represent, communicate and reflect on experience. This involves:
Here is a list of the standards with practical suggestions on how to develop these skills.
Understands that there are different arts forms through which enjoyment is gained and meanings expressed and derived.
Let your students identify the many art forms there are in society.
First of all ask the questions, "What is art? What do we mean by this term?"
Let students explore and list art forms that we come across. This could be very interesting as it also opens value judgments. Imagine that a student mentions billboards or comics or cartoons. Are these works of art? List and explore what we mean by the term ‘art’.
Students may like to work in groups and report back on the ‘art forms’ that they find. Type in the word ‘art’ on the Internet. Look up ‘art’ in the dictionary. Explore how we use the word in everyday life. Students could also keep a diary in which they explore any references to art that they come across in the course of the week – ‘the football team showed great art,’ ‘arty farty’. These references can be discussed. They reveal the values that we place on art and are an introduction to more detailed understandings of art that come in later standards.
Once a list of art forms has been built explore how we respond to them. Students can list their experiences of varying art forms."Who has seen a sculpture? What did you think of it?" "Who has been shocked by an art form?" Emphasise the word – feel – this connects students to the everyday felt perspective of arts. The thinking responses can be introduced in later analyses.
Invite students to tell personal stories on how they have responded to art forms. Students may like to present a show and tell – ‘my favourite book’, ‘a photo that I like’. Students can find photos or paintings in books, or on the web, and photocopy and print them out to place on posters. Or you can place posters around the room and invite students to write down – ‘my favourite book, film, painting, photo’, etc. Enable students to walk around and to see the responses and ask questions. What similarities and differences can be found? Everyone likes Harry Potter. Why is there little reference to classical music?
I can remember a diary entry at high school where I tore into classical music and said how boring it was. It was read by my mother and she challenged it. Of course now I am even more aware of the extraordinary works of classical music around although I dislike the elitism that can surround it. This may in fact be why students respond to art forms such as music in certain ways – peer group pressure, marketing, etc.
This is a good introduction to Standard Three where students can become even more aware of audiences and contexts. The greater one connects with the everyday the closer one gets to the next standard.
Understands how the basic elements of arts forms are used to communicate meanings in everyday life.
Students could make a list of art forms encountered in everyday life. These could be presented as a story or travelogue: Sarah is walking home past the park, where she pauses to look at a sculptured fountain. She is listening to her CD Walkman playing Kylie Minogue’s new CD when she spots a billboard.
Students could add to their diary – art forms seen during the week? Where? When?
Ask students to choose an art form, or the specific form being studied, e.g. the text, and ask them to identify what is it that makes up an art form. Obviously there are words within a text yet there is also arrangement. Look at photocopied sections of the text. What words are being used? Look at the use of words in the ‘Harry Potter’ books. Make a list of the sentences and the moments that work in a novel.
Let students find the forms and then explore e.g. What is dialogue? What is narration? What is descriptive language?
Let students identify what goes into making the art form work – words, colour, framing, sound, shape, movement, etc. Students can identify the elements and you as the teacher can support the understanding with the technical terms. Students may even like to present posters on basic style – descriptive sentences, funny sentences, action, etc.
You can even get a student, or a group of students, to introduce them to the group as a specific form – "Hello, today we will be meeting Mr. Editing. He plays an important part in film. How are you? / Tired I’ve been used to death in a lot of adverts recently and I’m sick of it. All the time in trailers at the cinema. Backwards and forwards. Dozens of times a minute. I can’t wait for the long scenes in movies. It gives me a chance to rest … and you know, sometimes people don’t even recognize me."
Students can develop a movement piece. What is dance? What do we think of when we hear the word dance? In groups students develop a simple choreographed dance piece by building from everyday movements. Explore body language and common gestures. Exaggerate and repeat these to build a simple dance piece.
A fun activity that demonstrates the ease by which words can become art is to transcribe a recorded dialogue, or take a series of sentences from a discussion or text, and to list them on the board. Explore how the everyday can slowly become poetry. Below is an example of an instruction manual and how by removing prepositions and conjunctions, and with a bit of arranging, it can be made to look like poetry. You can use information from the ingredients on a cereal packet or safety instructions around the room.
Here we see a connection between the everyday and art – the art in the everyday. This shows not only the simplicity in some art but also how the everyday can inspire art forms. One only has to change one's relationship to the material, juggle it and direct it in a different way. This is a great way to de-mythologise the magic so often associated with art as well as introducing students to the value in different purposes, audiences and contexts.
Barco Operating instructions – Proper Instruction manual
Make sure that the 'soft key' portable controller is to hand. It is probably on the speakers podium. (if not contact D. Howie on 50 4498) Switch on the P.C. (beside room D.03). If windows does not start up automatically then follow the instruction on the screen. Ensure the sun workstation is switched on. Log into the machine you wish to use. Switch on the Barco – The switch is located in the first shelf of the lectern (where the video sits) on the right hand side. (normally, the Barco will already have been warmed up) Using the 'soft key' portable controller press the menu button until main menu is displayed in the information window then select PC2. The Barco will now project the image on the pc screen onto the wall screen. The Barco takes 20 minutes to warm up before it can be used. If the Barco is not to be used immediately, then select Picture Mute on the 'soft key' portable controller unit which removes the projected image from the wall screen. Select picture mute once more and the image is again projected. To switch Barco off – use the same switch as described in note 3, switch off the PC and leave the 'soft key' control unit safely on the lectern.
Barco will now project the image
Understands the ways in which arts forms communicate for different purposes, audiences and contexts.
Consider looking at the meaning of objects in the ready-made art pieces, paintings or collages of Marcel Duchamp, Rene Magritte or Andy Warhol. Here we see everyday objects transformed by context – their placement in a gallery and their use by the artist.
Rene Magritte admits "This is not a pipe". Of course – it is a painting of a pipe.
Marcel Duchamp takes a urinal and a bike wheel. He places them within an art gallery. They are now considered art.
Andy Warhol paints soup cans. Rows of them. What is he saying about the meaning and focus of an artwork?
Look at the range of film reviews linked to the Internet Movie Database. Students can compare the different reviews. Why do people see films in different ways? Compare a feminist critique with a glossy star driven review.
Take a nursery rhyme and transform it from a childrens’ tale into an adult morality tale. So The Froggy Went A Courtin’? Was he having marital problems? Interview him. Let students become counselors.
It is well documented in the work of Dorothy Heathcote that by putting students into the role of experts – Mantle of the Expert – we stretch the skills of students. The mask of the role allows great space to move as the student isn’t necessarily tied to his or her self-consciousness.
Little Miss Muffet is in therapy because of her arachnophobia. Little Jack Horner has contravened food practices. Interview him.
Change the context of nursery rhymes.
had a little lamb
Mary found the cost of meat
Take a childrens’ story and turn it into an adult drama. Take an adult drama and turn it into a childrens’ book. How does the language and style have to change. What does the process of translating to a different audience tell us?
little piggy went to market – trendy vegetarian
– organic buyer.
See if you can find a variety of art forms that represent a particular theme. The theme may be conflict between people – can your students find a: play, poem, short story, photograph, painting, sculpture, piece of music, film, dance piece, etc.? Compare them.
Explore how Shakespeare has been set for varying audiences: ‘Forbidden Planet’ – science Fiction, Musicals – Romeo and Juliet – Westside Story, Shakespeare Made Easy, cartoons, etc.
Look at the books of Shaun Tan – the Australian illustrator and writer. Explore how his texts can be seen as childrens’ books yet also as adult texts. Explore the double meanings within television shows like ‘The Simpsons’ where the meanings are meant for differing viewers.
Understands how to construct and deconstruct arts works designed with particular intentions.
Create an artwork – e.g. painting – yet also record in a diary, or through an interview, the choices you made. Read the diaries of artists or writers that document processes. Look at drafts of manuscripts – Walt Whitman’s.
Discuss one’s own drafting process when writing.
"Seeing is believing." Original Draft – "Touching is absolutely marvellous."
"Blood is thicker then water." Original Draft – "It's hard to wash blood off a stone."
What is deconstruction? Look at the ways in which we can analyse art forms. Take a story e.g. Enid Blyton and explore what the story is saying about the role of children and parents.
Analyse a piece of art in depth. What was Picasso trying to say when he painted Guernica? Explore the multiple meanings and codes in Picasso’s works.
Look at the changes in modern art from realism to abstraction. Look at Photorealist paintings, like the work of Richard Estes.
What are they trying to tell us about the world, particularly how we view it?
Listen to a CD of world music. How does music differ across the globe? What does this tell us about our musical ears? Compare paintings from different cultures.
What language do we use when we talk about art forms? List adjectives used in film or book reviews. Look at the language of wine tasting. Introduce students to metaphoric language and how it creates new perspectives in how one analyses. Explore the language in advertising.
Understands the sophisticated ways in which the art form most suited to their expressive needs may be used to reflect, challenge and shape values and understanding of a society.
Explore how art works affect society. What films have changed public opinion? How does television shape our views of the world? What is the importance of investigative journalism? What is propaganda?
Woody Guthrie documented many current events, in his time, through folk songs. Here he explores the reality of the death of refugees in a plane crash and how the media and politicians used language – "deportees" – to dismiss humanity.
to my Juan, goodbye, Rosalita,
Not all Protest songs are literal. The famous song "Strange Fruit" used metaphor to bring home the truth of the lynching of American Negroes. Can metaphor be more powerful than the use of literal words?
by: Lewis Allan
trees bear strange fruit,
scene of the gallant south,
is fruit for the crows to pluck,
Explore the influence of the art works of Tracey Emin. This controversial British artist is profoundly honest in portraying her life experiences.
Explore shock advertising. Oliviero Toscani produced some very innovative and controversial adverts for the Benetton company.
When is an artist not an artist? Leni Riefenstahl produced extraordinarily innovative documentaries during the Nazi era. Many of the techniques she used as in Olympia, the film documenting the 1936 Berlin Olympic games, have shaped the way the media looks at sport. Is her role as an artist compromised by her position within the regime? And she is still alive!
Andres Serrano confronted the arts community and the church with his depiction of an image of Christ within a container of urine. What responsibility does art have within a culture?
Bodyworks is a very confronting art exhibition. Real cadavers are preserved and presented as works of art. When does art go too far?
Explore censorship. National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). Here is a website covering films that have been censored within Australia: "The chopping list: banned & censored movies in Australia".
Can films change a society? The Belgium film called Rosetta about a displaced and unemployed teenage girl brought about a reform in Belgium employment laws. It is named after the film - the Rosetta Plan.
Explore Literary Hoaxes. Here are some famous ones within Australia. Who defines what is art and what is good? Can the critics be wrong? Look at the Ern Malley affair in which a fake poet and his work was created. Does the poetry still have artistic merit?
Can books and films change a society? What effects have the ‘Harry Potter’ books or ‘Lord of the Rings’ had on society? What do they tell us about readers?
The New Zealand film Whale Rider about Maori legend has had a deep impact in that country. The French film Amelie is an extremely successful foreign language film. Did its playfulness come at the right time after a lot of trauma across the globe? Are films a reflection of reality, an audience, or a means of escape?
Can books shape cultures? Or do they only shape artworks? The William Gibson book Neuromancer has created a view of cyberspace and Science Fiction picked up by films such as The Matrix.
Explore the ways in which artists deconstruct the meaning of art – Bertolt Brecht the German playwright, Jean-Luc Godard the French filmmaker.
Project Gutenburg has many classic online texts worth exploring.
Download Tom Waits' "Another Mans Vine". Here’s a man who constructs and then deconstructs melody. Why? Does it work?
George Orwell's text 1984 and subsequent film adaptations not only exposed us to the concept and name Big Brother, it also contributed to the idea of the television show. It created a sense within our culture of being watched. What other art forms have created a change of awareness within a culture? Consider Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book, religious texts, Mein Kampf by Hitler, the works of Dickens, Shakespeare or Balzac. Jules Verne first influenced the way we look at the future. Of course am I only speaking of the western world? Is there elitism in art?
Shakespeare has given us many uses for words that continue in the English speaking world: accommodation, assassination, countless, dwindle, dislocate, fancy–free, lack lustre, laughable, premeditated, submerged. (Source: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of English Language, David Crystal.)
These strategies and techniques are just the tip of the iceberg. Many more can be explored via Focus Groups or Workshops. Just get back to me!
And remember that you can also kill two birds with one stone – sorry to our friends at animal liberation – but we can cover a range of standards in one unit of work. Just be creative. Be holistic. I have never found 'that book' that we have to follow. Experiment. And good luck.
Here is an interesting strategy from Diana Hodgetts here in Tasmania:
AN ABORIGINAL POEM
I am born I am black.
Is it spelt ‘colour’ or ‘color’? Why the differences?
Listen to classical music. What colours does it evoke? How would a red dance compare to a blue dance?
Explore the meanings of colour.
Explore how colour can be used to great effect within poetry.
as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
How can colours represent codes? Consider traffic and road signals.
How is colour used in sport?
Encourage young people to walk around the room and touch certain colours. List the many colours one finds within a school or workplace.
Physically represent the ways colour break up through a prism or are set in a rainbow. Create a movement or dance piece to show this.
What Nicknames do we use with colour in them? E.g. a red haired fellow called "Blue."
Explore colour blindness or colour pigmentation in skin – possible discussions on racism.
Explore the use of colour in film: Schindler’s List or Far From Heaven.
How can colour be used as a form of symbolism in childrens’ picture books?
The Red Tree by Shaun Tan
Explore the use of Colour in advertising.
Look at the history of Colour Photography:
The colour photographs of the Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information Collection include scenes of rural and small-town life, migrant labour, and the effects of the Great Depression. A significant number of the colour photographs concern the mobilisation effort for World War II and portray aircraft manufacturing, military training, and the nation's railroads. The 1,600 colour photographs produced by the FSA and OWI photographers are less well known and far less extensive than the 164,000 black-and-white photographs in the collection.
Do we tend to see the past in black and white?
Maybe your students can make up their own colours and build them into a catalogue, chart or jazzy advertisement.
The word blue has had an even more eventful history. It started out, apparently, as the Indo-European root *bhlewos, meaning "yellow", and evolved into the Greek phalos, "white", and hence in Old English to "pale" and "the colour of bruised skin"; we actually re-borrowed the word blue in its modern sense from French.
Through Graffiti we can hear the voices of dissidents, protestors, jokers, illiterate people, etc. Graffiti is an opportunity for people to express themselves. It is written on walls, in toilets, across advertising signs. Sometimes it is obscene, at other times humorous. Sometimes it is in the form of tags or the names of specific gangs. It can also last a considerable time – a reflection of a time and a place.
I can remember graffiti from my childhood. On a bridge beam near my house someone had referred to the government at the time – Malcolm Fraser the Prime Minister and Lynch a Minister – with the inscription Lynch Fraser. Another famous piece of graffiti was this question and its answer by another person – Peter Hudson was a top goal kicker who played for the Hawthorn Football Club.
Outside a church:
This would let Jesus kick the goals.
Here is an example of graffiti I saw recently in Hobart:
‘If not now then when? If not us then who? If not here then where?’
It has now been removed.
Let your students write down and report on the graffiti that they see. You may have to be clear on its level of coarseness. Explore what people are saying. Why? Where is it written? What does graffiti tell us about our society?
Can your students take a piece of graffiti and explore its meanings and words? Here is a poem by Edwin Morgan that builds from an old inscription in a tunnel.
(This tunnel was bugn begubnugn in 1880 William Sharp – workman’s inscription on entrance to abandoned channel tunnel at Dover).
Cahannel Tunnel bugn
1880 Sharp Wilgn
Edwin Morgan 10880 Brigde bugn.
Your students may like to create graffiti that they feel may have been left at a particular place and time. What would a trapped Russian soldier or resident of St Petersburg have written on a wall at the time of the siege – translate it – or write it in the language that you are studying. Explore the story of what causes a person to write graffiti in the first place. Your students could write many fascinating stories or diary accounts that lead to the writing of graffiti. Explore the moment of its writing and its fear – prosecution or even death if written at the time of e.g. the Nazis. What could be the story behind the above tunnel inscription? What other forms of graffiti or inscriptions have been found from ancient times? How are they dated? How do archeologists decipher them? The story of the deciphering of the Rosetta stone is fascinating.
Brunel was the engineer of the failed first Channel Tunnel. Was the above inscription in Edwin Morgan’s poem written by a man who had been trapped? What are the stories of the many men and women who worked on the great technological achievements that we now take for granted?
I was once chatting to a newly graduated teacher and I heard this fascinating strategy. She had been studying zoology and in order to understand the use of Latin in technical names each student was asked to create their own Latin terminology for their personality. This extended into creating Latin names for others. So here is the idea: create Latin names within the group and use this as a starting point to introducing the use of Latin terminology in areas of Science. An alternative to a Latin/English online website is to collect old English/Latin dictionaries from second hand book stores.
Aardvark: Orycteropus afer -"ant bear." (oritteropo)
Below is a list of Collective Nouns. Students could try to match the noun to the collective.
Students may like to form groups. Each group is secretly given a range of nouns and must physically present each category to the rest of the group. The audience can guess from a prepared list, or must guess with no prior information, e.g. the performers show a ‘murder’ and then ‘crows’ or represents ‘a crash’ and then the movement of a ‘rhinoceros’. Like charades this can be a fun and challenging exercise.
You may even like to make up funny collections: a snide of truants, a cynicism of teachers, a PowerPoint of consultants, a suit of Principals, a dope of rock musicians, a turn of rap dancers, a jargon of facilitators, a rupert of teddies, a tomorrow of bureaucrats, a strategic plan of departmental workers, and a bevy of Bevs.
© Copyright In Clued - Ed 2009