Saturday, April 20, 2013

Final reflections

Top 10 ideas from the course...

10. Some imaginative bridges between art forms and education are more abstract than others. The work of music, film, and photography seemed to be more abstract than aspects of fashion, interior design, and advertising, which were more apparent.

9. Working in 3 dimensions adds many new considerations that you don’t have in 2 dimensions. The Interior Design and Architecture module project illustrated new concepts of how we experience and process space.  These are considerations you don’t have in 2D art forms (film, photography).

8. All things have an aesthetic and a craft, despite intention. The Eisner article at the beginning of the course laid a solid foundation for the work of the semester with this simple notion. Everything that is made or performed has an aesthetic and is crafted, whether or not it is done explicitly or consciously. This was well illustrated for me in my internal thinking in the fashion module, where it became evident that even if you don’t engage fashion as an activity or enterprise, you are subject to it (and many of its trappings).

7. Creating is better learning than merely reading and writing. The process of creating videos all semester long gave the added dimension of meta-analysis of aesthetics. As we analyzed the work of art within the topic, on another level, we had to deal with the aesthetics of the synthesized product.

6. The work of a compelling experience can be boiled down to a few essential elements. Written another way, a compelling experience does not have to be complicated. The constraints of the 2 Minute Moment projects forced me to distill the elements of the compelling experience into a few essential points. While you can delve into the details endlessly, the structure of the experience can be described rather succinctly.

5. Having a modicum of understanding about the aesthetics of an art form can deepen your appreciation for that form. Examining the area where technique (or composition) and emotion (or experience) meet in music can make you more attune to the beauty, power, complexity, or simplicity of all kinds of pieces. This was an interesting byproduct of the Music module project.

4. The magic of forming art happens in between the technical aspects. As we analyzed the technical elements of several art forms, I realized that the they (technical elements) really only explained the structures that make actual things happen. Film editing, for instance: you can learn the techniques of film editing, but the artistry comes from a knowledge of forming the pieces of film into a work. Same thing with music, you can understand the technical aspects of intervals, scales, and how to play an instrument, but creating art with it happens in between those technical details.

3. Transforming a non-compelling experience to a compelling one can be rather simple. The photography assignment showed me that you can tweak just a few elements (like lighting and angle) and come up with rather surprising results.

2. The act of doing and creating is the compelling part of the learning environment. This just occurred to me right now.  Self explanatory.

1. As a teacher, you cannot make a compelling experience happen; you only set up the framework for an experience in the learning environment. Ultimately, the students make the experience compelling or not through their inquiry, interaction, and involvement.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

On fashion and education...

Initially my mind rejected the notion of making an imaginative bridge between fashion and education as an foolish absurdity. On their face, the most visible representations of fashion illustrate some of the most senseless excesses of our culture. But as I dove into the assignment for this module, to examine the work of fashion advice as evidenced by the (at times bizarre) television show What Not To Wear, the notion that fashion is deeply entwined with self-identity and self-expression came into focus. As such, perhaps there is a connection between representing yourself creatively through fashion, and representing your understanding of concepts in a learning environment.

Rules.  In fashion, there are certainly hard rules to follow for forming your fashion such as colour clashing.  In education, there are rules or guidelines set by an instructor on the proper form your work must take: essay length, use of specific sources, use of certain digital tools, etc..

Methodology. In fashion, there is a methodology to making a pleasing display: colour matching, selection of different kinds of material, form fitting or loose fitting clothes, etc. In the classroom, an instructor often imparts a methodology for the work to be done: scientific inquiry in a laboratory setting, sentence structure and mechanics, solving or processing formulas and equations in mathematics, etc..

Creativity. Creativity operates at the highest levels of both pursuits. In fashion, individual creativity is what propels the art form with people taking chances and pushing boundaries. In learning, creativity is what enables students to form knowledge and demonstrate understanding.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On music & teaching redux...

Music is a multidimensional discipline, and has many layers that are conceptually similar to teaching and learning.  First, music is, at its root, sound, which is physical, and can be understood as acoustics. Learning, too, is a physical thing in the social constructivist paradigm of creating knowledge through doing.

Next, music is mathematical. Sounds can be interpreted as frequencies to be calculated and manipulated by synthesizers or computers. Music composition is often spoken of in terms of intervals, or the relative distance between notes or chords like the universal blues progression I-IV-V, or the standard jazz progression I-V-IV-I. Beyond mathematics being a core subject area, we must conceptually think of the intervals and progression of teaching: scaffolding, chunking, and sequencing information for students.

Finally, music is a creative pursuit–through composition and performance, a musician demonstrates their work. This is also true of a student, who creates artifacts along the way in the process of learning: projects, written papers, tests, and other more creative representations. Often through performance of a task, or synthesis of information, they demonstrate their understanding of concepts.

Through this multidimensional and layered approach, we can understand some of the delicate work at play in both art forms.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Music Module Project

Analyzing how musicians grab and maintain the audience's attention to create a compelling experience.

Music is Broken Colours by Marconi Union ©2012

Created for CEP 882:
The Nature and Design of Compelling Experiences.
Michigan State University - Spring 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

On music and teaching...

I was particularly struck by the enormity of the Italian terms for musical (and musical/emotional) concepts in this week's readings. Perhaps it is true that you can tell a lot about a culture by the way its language treats a subject—a popular misconception is that Eskimos have many words for snow.

In particular, the way that terms seemed to overlap, or describe the same feeling, tempo, or mood:

[Mosso - agitated
 Allegro - moderately fast]

[Accelerando - Accelerating
 Affrentado - becoming hurried]

Or terms that evoked an emotional sense:

Largo - slow and dignified.
Dolce - sweetly
Maestoso - majestic
Vivace - vivacious

These are highly nuanced terms that illustrate the point that music is highly connected to the emotional center of the brain. Tapping into this could have a positive impact on learning.  Indeed, a lot of research has been conducted along these lines.

I've witnessed teachers in several subjects utilize music in the classroom for varying purposes: illustrating cultural differences, setting a mood for the learning environment, or simply to motivate students. A current Spanish teacher colleague of mine plays music from different Latin-American countries during periods when students are reading. A Humanities teacher plays different styles of music while students are working on collaborative projects (a frequent occurrence).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

2MM v2: Mel Gordon

WARNING NSFW: Contains drawn and photographic nude imagery.

Please view directly on YouTube, where the images are larger and clearer:

2 Minute Moment #2: Transformation of experience through aesthetic design.

Music bed is Godchild by Miles Davis ©1949.