Embodying art and embracing ambiguity!
Just returned from a week of aesthetic education immersion at the Lincoln Center for the Arts in New York City. The action packed week truly gives meaning to the importance of reflection as I am still trying to sort my notes and organize my thoughts almost one week later.
Michèle and I were fortunate enough to take a similar version of this course two years ago and at the end of that week we both agreed that it would be beneficial to repeat. Lincoln Center Education is guided by the writings of their late philosopher in residence, Maxine Greene.
LCE (Lincoln Center Education) developed the Capacities for Imaginative Thinking to provide a model for assessment for teaching with inquiry. They are called capacities rather than skills of knowledge to accentuate the inexhaustible amount that can be learned from works of art.
Noticing Deeply to identify and articulate layers of detail in a work of art or other object of study through continuous interaction with it over time.
Embodying to experience a work of art or other object of study through your senses, as well as emotionally, and also to physically represent that experience.
Questioning to ask questions throughout your explorations that further your own learning; to ask the question, “What if?”
Making Connections to connect what you notice and the patterns you see to your prior knowledge and experiences, to others’ knowledge and experiences, and to text and multimedia resources.
Identifying Patterns to find relationships among the details that you notice, group them, and recognize patterns.
Exhibiting Empathy to respect the diverse perspectives of others in the community; to understand the experiences of others emotionally, as well as intellectually.
Living with Ambiguity to understand that issues have more than one interpretation, that not all problems have immediate or clear-cut solutions, and to be patient while a resolution becomes clear.
Creating Meaning to create your own interpretations based on the previous capacities, see these in the light of others in the community, create a synthesis, and express it in your own voice.
Taking Action to try out new ideas, behaviors or situations in ways that are neither too easy nor too dangerous or difficult, based on the synthesis of what you have learned in your explorations.
Reflecting/Assessing to look back on your learning, continually assess what you have learned, assess/identify what challenges remain, and assess/identify what further learning needs to happen. This occurs not only at the end of a learning experience, but is part of what happens throughout that experience. It is also not the end of your learning; it is part of beginning to learn something else.
Our teaching artists for the week. Making learning visible was an underlying current that saw the walls of our classroom completely covered by the end of our five days.
The week was packed with live art, gallery visits, arts immersion and unit planning. The instructors modelled the unit planning we would be doing. All of our live art viewing was preceded by immersive art making, writing and discussion. After the art experience, we would respond with more art making to enhance our understanding.
My take away was the importance of allowing for imagination within all learning, and planning a unit in Social Studies or Math can (or should!) start with a guided live art experience to provide a platform for the capacities for Imaginative Thinking.
Another bonus of visiting other cities is the opportunity to see other gallery educators at work. We participated in four different styles of art gallery tours, Museum Hack and an Adult guided tour with LCE at the Met Museum and Family program at the Whitney Museum and a guided talk tour of the Tenement Museum. All very different. Museum Hack is the new kid on the block in museum education. Fun, immersive and something I would love to try in Calgary! Barbara Ellman, an artist and educator, who we learned from at the Lincoln Center and watched with families at the Whitney was inspiring. Her tours were interactive, welcoming and challenging. There was a balance between wondering and doing that was perfect. The Tenement Museum was disappointing. After a week of immersive, student/audience driven learning and after hearing so many good things about this museum, the tour was a ‘stand and listen/talking head’ tour. The guide was interesting and passionate about her subject but I couldn’t help but think how the tour could have been so much more!
So, an excellent week of diverse and challenging learning experiences!