#ILTA192 week 3 Questions?

I just knew this would be a challenging session and I didn’t listen to my own suggestion. I think I failed to bring clarity which I hoped would come through engaging everybody through questioning and a variety of activities. It was too much and perhaps disorientated some. The mid term term feedback may also indicate this as so far, I have been avoiding to give answers but use questioning to get responses from the class. Even if they are ambiguous, I was hoping that these would generate an appetite for further exploration outside the classroom depending on own questions and interests. I hope this can still happen.
The mid-term feedback, not all managed to provide a response as we did this at the end of the session and some had to leave, generated the below. Additional comments were added at the beginning of week 4.

I thought to use Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development…

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Responses from week 3 and 4

And then also the stop, start, continue strategy…

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with additions in week 4

I ask so many questions. I didn’t know what to think about this initially and started blaming myself that I do use far too many questions in my teaching. But then I wanted to come to the root of this approach and perhaps I should have shared this in week one. I think I should have done this together with my creativity manifesto,when I invited my colleagues to think about their educational autobiography and their learning and teaching philosophy as who we are defines what we do, how and why. But the comment doesn’t say I ask “too many questions”…

As I said earlier, I wanted to better understand after the session my own position and why I do things the way I do them. I reached out to some basic concepts within a range of learning theories which I feel provide some insights into what I do, how and why. While there are many many learning theories, older and newer ones, what does help do some kind of sorting depending on relevance or usability depending on what type of teaching approaches we are using in a particular situation. I also linked back to key theories of teaching to illustrate the links see that directly relate to my practice. I am adding below my visual representation. I can see now, how something like this would be useful to share at the beginning of a programme like ours. This would provide a clearer explanation and the rationale for why I do things the way we I do them and help our colleagues to get taste of how some of the theories live within us and define who we are, what we do and why. It would help also help them to start synthesising their own visualisation around learning and teaching.

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A quick visualisation of my learning and teaching world… dynamic and evolving

We were lucky. The sun was shining. It was too nice and too warm to stay in the room so we went in the park. We could have gone much earlier, maybe even spent the whole session there. It could have been more productive and focused as the activities we did to model Problem-Based Learning would have worked better if used for longer. Looking back now, I do feel that this activity could form the basis of the whole session and I didn’t really need much else. It is definitely something to consider for next week. All I needed would a link from reflection and learning theories to approach to teaching and then invite colleagues to explore some of these using the scenarios. What I feel would help is a longer unit. The team is planning to address this in the near future and I hope that there will be more time and space to engage colleagues in a wider range of experiences and approaches and in more depth so that they can consider some of these for their own practice.

Looking forward to week 4 in the centre of Manchester.

#ILTA192 week 2 Reflective habits and theories?

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Theories… where do  they come from? Image source

There are no guarantees when we try something different that it will work, but we do need to trust the process and others but also ourselves. I did and voila. Our padlet filled with a wide range of contributions (see post linked to week 1). The responses may have come in last minute, most of them, and created a challenge to read these in advance of the session (yes, it was a challenge), but they did come in. When I saw all the responses my face lid up and I was so so happy that I felt the need to share my happiness with a colleague. And I did. The experiment did work and as a group we decided, well it was my students idea, to swap papers and read another one from the same issue. This time discussing it face-to-face just before we start our session three. Amazing! Who said we can’t engage our colleagues in academic literature around learning and teaching? I think the appetite is there. We just need to find a hook to make this work. There will be multiple hooks, I am sure. And different things will work for different people.the “ripping the journal approach” seemed to have worked in this case.

This week we explored reflection and learning theories. Well, we did spent most of the time discussing and critiquing reflection and much less on learning theories. Always tricky… always. As theories themselves are decontextualised. My attempt to contextualise them was through the use of images, visual triggers, but also an activity to start working on the microteach session plan. While the groups did make some progress, I felt the activity did not work well. Maybe it didn’t work at all. It required students to have some knowledge already of the key learning theories. And while most of these were in Moodle and we provide related resources, I wasn’t sure how many had engaged with these in advance of the class. Perhaps I should really be more explicit in how the resources in Moodle could be used in preparation for a class. So there was a gap with the learning theories that I think did not let us progress as much or as deeply as I wished. Looking back now, I could have modeled more the key approaches or theories and turn them into a role play asking students to identify the theory used each time, or the theories that underpinned a specific approach as it is a mix, not a clear cut. Why didn’t I think about this earlier? In the past, I have done all kinds of different things, even editing specific Wikipedia pages, entries linked to specific learning theories, and we write about it in a paper published with a colleague on that course (Nerantzi, C. and Hannaford, L. (2016) Flipping the classroom using teams. A case study from Academic Development, in: Whatley, J. and Nerantzi, C. (eds.) (2016) Teaching with Team Projects in Higher Education, Santa Rosa, CA: Informing Science Press, pp. 119-130).

My plan now is to develop a new activity that could be used in a future class and maybe there is an opportunity to build elements of this into the remaining sessions. I think that would be good and useful. Maybe next time round I could model in each session at least two different approaches. I will need to think about it more to come up with a plan that would work. For now, in session 3 I will integrate an element about two contrasting learning theories using related teaching and learning approaches. Let’s see what happens.

Everybody says they want creativity and innovation but when we get it we often regret it as it is messy, experimental and will generate resistance. It is also often stopped before it happens. Are innovation and creativity just buzzwords? Within a community, there is trust. Trust in each other, trust in self, trust in the process and we are more tolerant and open to alternative approaches, alternative viewpoints, alternative ideas and processes. If there is no trust,there is very little we can do… by coincidence I just read the following article linked to recent research about engagement. And while it is not linked to learning and teaching, I can see parallels and a study like this in our context would be extremely useful. My own research with Barbara Thomas, into pedagogic innovation (#pin), paper forthcoming, does show that the individual is the driver for innovation, that the individuals is seeking the collaboration with others and welcomes and seeks the support of their institution.

Hopefully my colleagues and students understood that reflection is something we do naturally and continuously. It is not an add-on or a bold-on at the end… the true value of reflection is that we can step back and step outside our own experiences, critique these and engage in conversation with others to make sense of our experiences and identify a good way forward for us and others. Reflection is not a deficit model for learning and development. It gives us rich opportunities to interrogate practice, celebrate achievements and be positive about the future. Nothing and nobody is perfect.

See you all very soon for our week 3 session. I think I have overplanned (again) and I may ask you to help me to decide what to do in class and what to leave out. Yes, I will give you some choice and will decide what we do 😉 Are you ready for this?

I hope the sun will be shining tomorrow…

#ILTA192 week 1 can we make learning sticky…

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The fireworks of learning and teaching! Source

I always feel nervous when I start working with a new group. Is there anybody who doesn’t? It is, I think worse, at the beginning of the academic year, because of the longer gap. I often ask myself then “Can I still do this? Can I still do this well and with passion?” We are in term three now so these feelings were not as strong as they would have been after a summer break… I have to admit and I have been teaching in the previous terms. Looking back at the last almost six years, I have been teaching every term, providing feedback, assessing work and marking.  Every term? Do I feel exhausted? I don’t think so. Teaching gives me fresh energy. During the last term I was also team-teaching on a postgraduate unit with a colleague in Nutritional Sciences with my colleague Haleh Moravej. Not my specialism at all. I actually know very little about nutrition and only from an healthy eater perspective. I have to say that I loved that experience as it was a completely new area for me. It was so exciting and I had the opportunity to work very closely with a peer in the faculty and our students. Yes, they were our students. This is how we both felt and we are currently writing this team-teaching experience up to be shared more widely, hoping others will consider this approach of teaching. Teaching students in the faculty is important for us academic developers. We don’t always have that opportunity. We often create it ourselves. For example, when I was at Salford, I used to teach German. It was so refreshing and useful. Especially as when teaching on our PGCAP I could more fully participate in the discussions about students with my peers and also share my own first hand experiences with them.

Ok, back to the now. ILTA is our first unit on the PgCert. It stands for Introduction to Learning, Teaching and Assessment. A very important unit for me. If not the most important one. We get colleagues from across the university in different role, academic and professional services and sometimes colleagues from other institutions as well. Many are new to teaching in HE, others have been doing it for a while or a bit longer even, others have to do the unit and the PgCert as it is part of their probation requirements, others come on their own as they want the qualification and the learning and development that comes with it.  It is that diversity of people who come together that can make it a rich experience and can create lasting relationships. I have been teaching this unit since arriving at ManMet in Oct 13 and every time it is a unique experience with its ups and downs, of course. Often I have wished it to be longer… When I was working at Salford (ok, going back in time again), I was the PGCAP programme leader there working with a small team of academic developers and learning technologists. I was known as the PGCAP lady… and my students were the disruptive troops in a nice way and we often worked directly with the then PVC Academic and the VC. We really did disrupt practices but with a purpose. We had a 30 credit core unit and that really worked well in creating a sense of community. I felt hat it made a real difference to how colleagues engaged, the experimentation that we did together (even some research! and disseminated further through conferences and publications). Here at ManMet, we are planning for changes in this direction now, which is very encouraging.

So, in our first session, I think I was upbeat (music always helps and I like playing music when students enter the room but also for me while I set up). I felt excited. It was a fresh start for all of us and I was looking forward to meeting everybody. Colleagues, who are now also my students, were smiling when they arrived and many were there early. That was a good sign, I thought 😉

I think I did manage to draw (at least some of) my colleagues in, to create an atmosphere to open up and to start thinking about learning and teaching in different ways. We introduced the unit, talked a lot of about learning outcomes and constructive alignment and the assessment requirements. I had far too many slides!!! Far too many. Will I ever learn? I just get excited with things I can do in the classroom but then I do often run out of time. Anyway.

Having an open mind in such courses, PgCert courses, is really important but also to trust in the process, what we do and how. But also trust each other. If my colleagues don’t trust the process, the group and don’t trust me, I am not sure we can go far. There will be resistance, of course, there will be (not always, of course) as some of the approaches  modeled are less frequently used… but if we are in this together, we do become more tolerant and open to new ideas, a course does this much better than a workshop, and a longer course does this better than a short course. My own experience and research has shown this.

So, the plan was to help colleagues feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time and engage with perhaps less used learning and teaching approaches that hopefully would stimulate some new thinking, unthinking and re-thinking but also action.  Yes, from the very first session. There is no point waiting for it to happen later. The best time is now! Professor Phil Race talks about In at the deep end. I just love that phrase! BTW, I learnt to swim, not by watching videos or following  instructions, I actually had to jump into the deep end of the pool literary… the whole class did. I have to admit that it was a scary experience and I did go at the back of the queue. But in the end I did it. Everybody did.

For me it is important to help my colleagues to immerse themselves into something that is different. Something they don’t do already. Something that makes them think more deeply about what they do, could do and may do in the future in their teaching and supporting students’ learning. I want to help them boost their confidence in teaching and be more aware of learning itself, the process and their learners and how to create varied, inclusive stimulating and exciting learning opportunities. Otherwise what would be the point of academic development? I often ask myself that question. And yes, while it is also about benchmarking and effective practice and raising the quality of teaching across the institution and getting more colleagues qualified, our courses also provide a fantastic opportunity to go beyond the minimum expectations. Nurturing creativity and innovation in teaching is so important and have a real potential to lead to transformation, of practitioners, their practice but also lead to transformative learning within and beyond students’ time at university and beyond! But I am not a bystander. I am part of the process, I am also immersed in it and I am learning with and from my colleagues too. I challenge and am challenged. And I am exposed. I practise at the edge and this is often forgotten… I don’t play it safe and yes, there are risks. I am far to curious to explore, to have adventures and make surprising discoveries with my colleagues that will all help us move forward… to not practise this way…

We got a wide range of experiences in the group and the discussions and debates started from very early on. What is often missing from these courses (and external examiners often comment on this) is the critical engagement with the literature. I wanted to change this. I have tried all kinds of approaches in the past… I had no idea if it (it= I will come to this in a moment) would work but I wanted to give it a go. I had used a variation of this approach in another PgCert course and in workshops. The idea came from Steve  Outram. At the time we were both working on an HEA Change Academy project at Lincoln University and he mentioned it in one of the sessions he led. Ok, but what did I do? I ripped an academic journal apart, a physical copy of it and shared an article with each colleague in the group. But why on earth did I rip a journal apart? I suspect that some of my colleagues were shocked when it happened in front of their eyes. I thought that the act of ripping a journal apart in itself will be memorable. But then also everybody had that article in their possession. No need to read an email, download it, print it etc. Could this help colleagues engage with it? To read it, to start immersing themselves into the academic literature around learning and teaching in HE, to start familiarising themselves with a new subject area and its terminology? However, there was no guarantee that it would work. But the potential that it would was huge, for me at least so I experimented with this approach.

Final notes: I still have that curiosity to experiment, play with ideas, surprise others and do the unexpected. I need to stay more focused but how can I do this with all that excitement that feeds my imagination and my actions? I am opening this up to my colleagues and students and hope we can engage in a conversation around our shared experiences.

I can only be me. I only want to be me. Read here what is important to me.

Let’s see what happens in week 2.

 

 

 

Living in the uncomfort zone or towards a creativity manifesto

My personal contribution towards constructing a collective manifesto for creativity is below. For more information about the creativity manifesto activities led by Professor Norman Jackson, see http://www.creativeacademic.uk/manifesto.html

Join the #creativeHE community at https://www.facebook.com/groups/creativeHE/ to help us further shape our collective manifesto.

The current version is now live and available openly licensed.

Living in the uncomfort zone (April 2019)

Curiosity to explore.
To experiment.
To play.
Searching for questions and answers.
More questions.
Questions move us,
move us into new/alternative directions.

Ideas are born through questioning,
through imagining things,
through novel connections.
Linked to desires, a need, a mission,
an opportunity,
a challenge AND adversity.
They signal hope.
They push boundaries.
They (can) rattle normality, tradition, conformity.

Resourcefulness is the oxygen of life.
Without imagination and creativity it doesn’t mean anything.
To make things happen for the better,
with nothing, very little, or everything we have.
For us (and for others).

And there is joy. The joy of life and being alive.
Sun. Sea. Mountains.
Blueberries. Tomatoes. Watermelon.
Rain. Snow.
Sight. Smell. Taste. Sound. Touch.
Adventures. Art.
Friends. Family. People.
Warmth. Love. Care.
Disappointment.
Rejection.
Loneliness.
Emotions in abundance.
Highs AND lows.
All four seasons in a moment or two.

Create and live in your uncomfort zone (for a little while or a bit longer).
Be comfortable there.
Challenge and be challenged.
Stretch. Risk. Fail. Pick yourself up again. And again.
It is a rollercoaster. Not on a fixed track.
Surprises are just around the corner.
Go for it! Make things happen. Transform.

Creativity doesn’t mean being loud or visible or artistic.
We can be bold in a quiet way.
Whatever we do.
With our thinking, ideas and actions.

Immerse into (im)possibilities
Make surprising discoveries
about ourselves,
others
and the world we live in.

Time to give back… reflections as they emerge(d) #NIP191

Time to give back. Time to reciprocate. Haleh @halehmoravej and I meet a few months after I joined ManMet. That was over five years ago. Our shared passion for creative experimentation in learning and teaching brought us together. We have learnt to maximise on what unites us and how we can complement each other. We are colleagues, peers, equals. Stefani (2003) illustrated the positive impact of academic development on academics when collaboration and partnership models are used. We have experienced this in practice.

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We have worked together on a range of learning and teaching initiatives and Haleh was also my student on two modules when she was working towards her teaching qualification in higher education. But before then we were already team teaching on our PgCert in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education and she was an active member of the Greenhouse community and later #creativeHE. And we have worked together on an undergraduate unit she teaches and done some research together using playful approaches to module evaluation together with her students. Over the years, I got to know Haleh really well and many of her students too. Her passion is infectious. When she invited me to co-develop and team teach the postgraduate module Nutrition in Practice I couldn’t resist.

As academic developers we work with academic staff, our students on the programmes we offer are academics too. So we are usually a layer removed from the students our students work with. Some might say our students are not really students. I have heard this myself. But they are students and it is a unique opportunity for academics to have that double role: Lecturer and student at the same time, as this double role is helping them to experience themselves what their students are going through and learn to empathize with them. We see this happening as academic developers and there are useful and impactful experiences for academics when being a student that help them consider changes to their own practice. Our students are professionals like you would have in a health professions course or an MBA for example. The only difference I see is that most our our students are members of staff, our colleagues.

I treasure the opportunities to teach other students than academic colleagues. And there have been such opportunities in the past. Often, I create them. I think academic developers should do this as part of their professional role, I mean working and teaching non-academics too. Being an academic as an academic developer is important too. A peer who but also to teach on programmes outside academic development. I used to teach German in my last institution and found it always useful in my discussions with colleagues to share my stories about my undergraduate students. It does make a difference. My experience showed that it helps develops trust. But I haven’t seen universities where this is actively promoted or build-into the academic development role. Is there an opportunity there to do more about this?

With Haleh, we planned the module for some months in advance and our meetings were always full of ideas and excitement. We had big plans and were looking forward to doing this together. Then the unexpected happened and I fell ill when we were going to start. I was upset with myself but could not do anything about it. This illness meant Haleh had to start on her own but she kept me in the loop and always referred to “our students”, from a distance I still felt part of the team. I loved seeing all the pictures, videos and tweets. I was looking forward to seeing the students when I got back to work. That happened in week three.

Finally I was there. Finally I saw our students. I was with our students. Loved their energy and desire to learn. Their openness and honesty. Their eyes sparkled and I could see their determination for learning. Haleh had already done her magic to bring them together as a group. They had started opening up. Their diversity, culturally and professionally, enriched our experiences and we wanted to maximise on this.

So what does an academic developer do in a class she knows nothing about the subject beyond being liking good food and healthy eating? Well, with Haleh we discussed not so much the what was going to be taught in this module but more the how and why. In a way we really moved away from content delivery, and I don’t like that word “delivery” at all, to bringing the curriculum alive through stimulating, varied and hands on experiences that will help our students think and enable them to discover their own areas within nutrition and develop as professionals. This happened through a wide range of approaches we employed that transformed learning into a full body, heart and mind experience. We listened, discussed, we made, we played, we cried and we questioned. We all learnt. Emotions are so important in learning. Often we ignore them, we brush them under the carpet. But when we work with people it is really important to remember we all have an emotional dimension too. And this emotional connection can be made strongly through stories. Moon (2010, 60) states “A good story seems to facilitate listeners and the teller in moving around in the psychological space of the story, guided by the unfolding actions of the story. For the listener to allow herself vicariously to experience the ‘story world’ involves her in ‘suspending her disbelief’ and thereby suspending some current connections with the here and now. She allows herself to be transported ‘aboard’ the story and may encounter different reality.” The story I shared, I felt enabled this.  While the story was based on a personal experience, the re-action it generated and the emotional involvement it triggered showed that it was a powerful strategy. I suspect we will all remember the story I told and connect it with something very specific we learnt thanks to it.

Guests brought the world into the classroom, the lab provided a space for creative experimentation and responding to students feedback, Haleh will also take students away from campus. Haleh organised this super quickly responding to students’ feedback. We normalised the use of technologies in and outside the classroom and created opportunities to help students develop as professionals using digital tools, platforms and spaces.

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The boys sharing their nutritious strategy to the movie director. Capturing learning as it emerges.

The use of a social media, process and product portfolio, owned by the students, was invaluable and put the students in charge of their learning and development (Scully, O’Leary & Brown, 2018). I am impressed with the professionalism of our students and how responsibly they have embraced digital technologies for their learning. Students have used the portfolio seamlessly not just capturing classroom activities and assessment but also to share and showcase their work more widely in order to establish a professional space and online presence in readiness for a career in nutrition science.

The portfolios are a colourful tapestry and evidence experimentation and a professional maturity documenting learning adventures and discoveries. Many of the portfolios are also shared more widely and are turning into conversation spaces about nutrition. Our students are developing a professional identity as a nutritionist. It is truly wonderful. Have a look at Leticia’s portfolio!

The students used their own devices to capture visual memories of their learning experiences and share these further via their WordPress portfolios and Instagram mainly, from what I have seen. Most importantly they also learnt to put their devices to one side and be with their peers in real time. Often we are physically with people but we are hooked to our phones and engaged with others elsewhere. There is a danger that we are always trying to be were we are not and don’t live the moment where we are with the people we share the moment with in the same physical location.

Doing the mid unit evaluation with our students was insightful. We used a variation of the LEGO(R) SERIOUS PLAY(R) method to gain deep insights into the individual and collective experience in our class and combined it with other approaches as we felt that it would further strengthen sharing and dialogic engagement (James & Nerantzi, 2018). That featured individuals building of two mini models, one for what they are taking away from the module so far and one for what they would find useful to change/happen in this module before we reach the end. We asked our students to add a capture for each model on a post-it and then we did sticker voting when the models were shared. This way everything that was shared was transparent, we could react and respond and also clarify and better understand what was said and what could be done. Students’ honesty did shine through but also their determination to learn. It was fantastic to hear how positive the module was perceived already and more importantly that they felt they had learnt new things and also found the practical sessions useful for their development.

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mid unit evaluation using LEGO, post-its, sticky notes, stickers and discussion to close the feedback loop.

I was impressed with the dishes students prepared responding to specific briefs they self-selected and how much care went into these based on their understanding of nutritional value for particular groups and individuals of our society.

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Really impressed with how students worked together, the creativity and experimentation but also with the yummy result!

I think we all realised from very early on the important role the social dimensions plays in our development but also in the context of nutrition.

What I have learnt

  1. Team-teaching between academic and academic developer is something that is valuable for both sides, develops close working relationships, mutual understanding of each other’s role, opportunities and challenges. It is a valuable opportunity for the academic developer to teach students who are not members of staff and for the academic to work critically and creatively with a colleague on the design, implementation and evaluation of their teaching.
  2. Academics are open to change and transformation as they care deeply about their students. They put a lot of energy into creating stimulating learning experiences. This really drives what they do. They value the opportunity to work with somebody they trust when seen as equals to consider alternative approaches that have the potential to benefit their students.
  3. We need to trust our colleagues and we need to trust our students. Creating a sense of community is what makes a real difference and develops trust within. The academic plays a key role in laying the foundations for such a community to emerge and establish. Showing our human side helps develop empathy.
  4. Empowering students to pursue their own special interests linked to a module and programme of study and building in choice increases their engagement and commitment to their own development.
  5. Diversity boosts collaboration. We saw this in action. Students were curious about each other and keen to learn with and from each other. Sharing diverse experiences with other other helped them connect their reality with others and build a wider understanding of differences, culturally, politically, economically and socially.

How can we encourage such mutual professional development collaborations more? They are valuable practice-based development that break free from workshops and organised activities and offer on the job and just in time development with direct application for all those involved. There are of course resource implications to further spread such developmental collaborations, but I am wondering if there are specific cases where such an investment could potentially transform learning and teaching and reinvigorate practitioners? Could such an approach then be cascaded and have a ripple effect?

I had started growing chilly plants on my windowsill in January. During one of our sessions we shared them with our students. To look after them, to nurture them and help them grow, just like we did with our students.

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Look after them 😉

#nip191 on Twitter

Thank you for this opportunity Haleh.
I am looking forward to the next chapter of our shared adventure.

References

James, A. & Nerantzi, C. (2018) Guest Editors: A Potpourri Of Innovative Applications Of LEGO® In Learning, Teaching And Development, In: International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 153-156. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-011

Moon, J. (2010) Using story in higher education and professional development, London: Routledge.

Scully, D., O’Leary, M. & Brown, M. (2018) The Learning Portfolio in Higher Education: A Game of Snakes and Ladders. Dublin: Dublin City University, Centre for Assessment Research, Policy & Practice in Education (CARPE) and National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL), available at http://dcu.ie/sites/default/files/carpe/eportfolio_report.pdf

Stefani, L. (2003) What is staff and educational development? In: Kahn, P. & Baume, D., eds., 2003. A guide to staff & educational development. Oxon: Routledge,  pp.9-23.

Say it with art #sayitwithart > launching today the 14th of February 2019

Round LogoDear friends,

If you are in any way affected by Brexit, directly or indirectly, and want to express your situation and feelings through an artwork, poem or short story and share it more widely, please keep reading this open invitation.

We are launching the open access digital collection Say it with art and would love you to contribute by submitting an artwork, poems or short stories about Brexit. We would like to give individuals a voice through art. To express, communicate and connect with others from across the UK and other European countries.

We hope that the Say it with art collection will be valuable to capture the turbulent moments in which we live, and provide a snapshot of our times to politicians and future generations beyond the dominating, and often polarised, journalistic and political voices. The collection will help others gain deeper insights into the everyday reality, hopes, dreams and fears, of individuals, and their experiences.

All work received will be reviewed and work that is respectful and non abusive will be included in the Say it with art collection.

Our invitation is open to anybody who has something to say about Brexit in the language and format of their choice. To submit your contribution, please access the following Google form at https://goo.gl/forms/16DfeveQe3syKSNj2

This project is supported by the

Please note, the invitation to submit will remain open until midnight on the 29th of March 2019.

https://w2.countingdownto.com/2385415

Countdown by countingdownto.com

Thereafter, the team and supporters of this initiative, will review submissions and put the collection together. An announcement will be made via social media channels using the hashtag #sayitwithart when the collection is ready and how it can be accessed.

If you are the Programme Leader of a BA or an MA in Creative Writing or an Art and Design  programme anywhere in Europe please feel free to invite your students to submit their work for this collection.

We are really looking forward to your contributions and seeing this collection coming together.

Chrissi Nerantzi @chrissinerantzi and Nathalie Sheridan @drnsheridan

the #sayitwithart team and supporters

Googlebanner_sayitwithart banner final

Happy Week 5 #creativewriting

I can relax a little bit as I feel that I have found what I will do for my first assignment. Assessment does create stress! If we don’t fully get what we have to do or even get a sense that we can do it.

While all the sessions so far have been extremely valuable and opened windows to new worlds, this week’s session really helped me to connect with my love of picture books. While we didn’t really look at any of them, I did in my own time as I found it useful to relate the theory about happiness as articulated by Ahmed (2010) to these. The module so far confirmed to me that I learn best when I can combine theory with practice. With something that interests me as I seek to find applied patterns of the theory and make meaningful connections. I read the whole book in advance of the session and two other ones by Ahmed, but after the session, I felt that the discussions we had with Caroline and my peers really helped me deepen my understanding about happiness and unhappiness further.

Also, finally knew what I would be doing for my first assignment and confirmed this with Caroline. I actually had written the first draft over the weekend, in advance of our session about happiness and before I confirmed with her that it would be ok. I just couldn’t stop myself. Did I just had a feel that it would work? I immersed myself into the picture books and the theory. It was fascinating what I was discovering. I felt like an archaeologist… sort of. My original plan was just to make a start with the essay over the weekend, maybe 500 words max, but I wrote over 3500… I was pleased I had written that draft before we discussed happiness in class. It really helped me further deepen my understanding about what I had read and what I was discovering in the picture books. So I soon started editing. And reading studies about the literary form of picture books more generally. I can’t stop now. I find it all hugely exciting and invigorating.

… C.S. Lewis is right… “ A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest. ”

So what is Ahmed’s happiness work all about? I articulated my understanding of her theory in my essay through analyzing three contemporary picture books. I love the picture books I selected:

Pandora (Turnbull, 2016)
South (Duncan, 2017)
The bear and the piano (Litchfield, 2015)

My interpretation in a few lines>>> Pandora an ex-killjoy with a pessimistic outlook, the Fisherman in South, an initial happy migrant but then a melancholic one similar to the Bear, indicate that creativity enables us to live happiness in the moment when we are immersed in it as a basic emotion, but that there is a real desire for something else and that is experiencing happiness as a social emotion, something that is shared with others based on a common value system.

More in the essay.

Ahmed’s work definitely gave me the language to articulate what I was discovering. Ahmed’s work is serious stuff. I had no idea what I would discover in the three picture books. I analysed the text and the illustrations. And they are right. The main vehicle to communicate emotions seems through the illustrations. Now, I am unsure if I will I ever again read picture books in the same way as before writing this essay? And what about writing my own stories?

I worked on the essay systematically and am now ready to share the draft with somebody who would be interested in reading it. Just would like to see if what I have written makes any sense to anybody. Could also share with the writers… I follow one of them in Instagram (Litchfield). But would he reply?

I have also, because of the above, that emotions are mainly depicted through the illustrations, been thinking about illustration and that I should perhaps step out of my comfort zone and do a little bit of drawing regularly and see if I can warm up to illustrate one of my stories. In all three picture books The writer was also the illustrator. Now that I have the draft for the first assignment ready, I am thinking about the second one. This can be a creative piece I have written. Thinking of my refugee story in English and the Greek translation and one more I will do, the German one. A new challenge for me as I haven’t used my German for nearly 20 years in my capacity as a translator.

Through a clip on youtube, I discovered Goodreads.

Looking forward to next week.

References

Ahmed, S. (2010) The promise of happiness. Duke University Press.

Duncan, D. (2017) South. New York: Abrams.

Litchfield, D. (2015) The bear and the piano. London: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books.

Turnbull, V. (2016) Pandora. London: Quarto Knows.

The picture books I analysed