Teaching Artist and Integrated Learning Specialist writes for about her experiences at . In a series of participatory workshops Brett Cook invited Evan Bissell, Todd Elkin, Chinaka Hodge, and Mariah Rankine-Landers to share experiences that nurture new thinking about the arts in education and community. The work will continue to be on view through October 12, 2014 at YBCA. Here are Susan’s reflections:
While the space appears to be a secret one it is a collective, engaging work space. The ideas are big and visible. You are invited to contribute your comments to the ‘data’.
• What is a good teacher?
• What is a bad teacher?
These questions are a part of the work that Todd Elkin and his students from Washington HS in Fremont are surfacing. “Assessment is a Gift” is written large in blue tape above each student’s artist statements. They have been working in the space at YBCA and in their classroom. They are flipping the vantage point of assessment – observing a teacher at their school and assessing his practice. The teacher they are assessing will be attending the exhibit and engaging with their assessment protocol. I cant wait to follow the action on Todd’s social media stream to participate vicariously!
As I am reading the student comments I am struck by their raw, insightful, fun observations that are spot on. This exhibition invites you to check it out and to engage with comments. Stacks of colorful post-it notes and markers are in abundance – use them!
I participated in two of the workshop sessions hosted by Mariah Rankine-Landers. She invited students and adults to think forward to the year 2064 to envision what learning, schools and education might look like. Sometimes stepping this far into the future is exactly the permission I need think with a lens that holds a greater amount of optimism. Our profiles were outlined and our narrative filled the exterior while the interior space connected to the personal logistics and connections. This thinking and making and writing while making and sharing it large is what Making Learning Visible (MLV) is all about.
As the work was being done certain themes emerged: How can we use the folkloric tradition of trickster to inform our roles as change makers in schools? What is RE: remix, rehumanize, redo refuel? Fluid, learning hubs replace classrooms and schools. Learning driven by cohorts of mentors and co-teachers, and yes, the big ideas of love, peace, freedom and equality. I want some jet fuel to the future because these visions are what I know I am waiting for.
The protocols in evidence in this room represent a shift in thinking and practice in education happening right here in the Bay Area. It is an offshoot from Harvard’s Project Zero but with a huge hunk of social consciousness, visioning and community building attached. It is what allows our students who come from so many different life vantage points to be seen. It opens up doors to assessment that is far step away from filling in the bubbles. It is authentic and it is a gift.
it’s not just for wonky educators but for artists too
I find that as a teaching artist and an integrated learning specialist that the questions I ask when developing curriculum are the very same questions I ask when I am in my studio. I map out my ideas. I journal and develop strategies for recursion. I am considering the ‘systems’ when untangling the steps in my next edition of prints. I am asking questions about what I want to understand when developing my next conceptual performative piece.
• Why am I using these industrial bags as costumes in these places?
• Why am I wearing this mask of wolf moss?
similar to ideation and design thinking
Yes, it is similar to ideation and design thinking strategies used by ‘creatives’ for startup projects and by entrepreneurs but… it is larger – it stretches its tendrils into the difficult subjects of living in a world with conflict and global adversity. Most importantly it holds and values student voice and vantage point as co-conspirators in learning.
thank you YBCA
Welcoming educators and their students into YBCA is validating and exactly where teachers should be – respected and honored for the deep thinking work they are doing with young people. Actually, I really view the awesome educators taking part in the Front Door Gallery as site specific performance artists of the highest caliber. This is the work we need to amplify – giving educators and students the tools they need to think with to be the change we so desperately need in an authentic, powerful way.
See the work and hear the work – be the work.



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