Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Assessment Kills Innovation: Make No Outcome

Hello! I can't actually believe I went through February and haven't blogged - just missed it by the skin of my teeth! It wasn't that I wasn't making and doing anything - I guess, if anything I have been way too busy to blog. I have got a lovely, but big commission to create lots of illustrations and decorations for a wedding, which is really exciting (and involves lots of cats and paper cutting) so its head down for that one during March. Can't wait (already!) to show you the results once the room is decorated and made up. Another reason I have been super busy during February is that I am currently teaching at both Leeds College of Art on the brilliant Foundation Course the first half of the week, and then at Nottingham Trent on the fab Graphics BA the second part of the week - I've managed to squeeze in extra screen-print workshops with the MA course in Nottingham and I also delivered a conference paper at the start of the month at an international (though based here in the UK) conference: The Future Trends in Visual Communication Design. My paper was titled "Assessment Kills Innovation: When Students Make No Outcome."

The paper explored how students view assessment; does it hinder or help them become great designers of the future?  This paper critically reviews the impact of incidental learning through playful practice that takes place in those workshops and aims to answer the questions of how a student of today, being treated and feeling evermore as an entitled consumer can take risks and make playful work within the structure of higher education. It was the second paper I've delivered at a conference - it was great to talk about something I feel really passionate about and had researched. It sparked lots of great conversations after the conference which was great to hear how other academics and students had interpreted the paper. I would love to carry the conversation on and will apply to go to some further conferences in the future with the topic I think. The No-Outcome workshops, which is a practical response to the paper, delivered to all students, outside the curriculum at Nottingham Trent University carries the ethos of the paper and allows students to make and play without the fear of assessment and see what else university can be for - not just a place to acquire one type of knowledge or a grade, but to collaborate, explore any idea safely, build new skills using such a diverse array of facilities, which post-university students may be pushed to have access to... and so much more! Here is an image from last a No Outcome session last week, exploring typographical forms:

The biggest challenge is to accept that not everything that is important can be measured nor is quantifiable... a hard mindset when ultimately students are graded, we all also work for a wage - so we all see a monetary value in what we do and produce and I believe that the dominant forms of education reinforce this from pre-school to sixth form, making it harder to imagine an alternative.  But there is more than one way to live, and certainly more than one way to view knowledge and value. I'd love to carry on the discussion, if you know of any conferences or want to chat, please don't hesitate to contact me - my twitter and contact details are on the right hand side of this blog.

Also in February I ran a workshop for asylum seekers and young refugees in Nottingham - some of which had just arrived in the country a few weeks ago. I am passionate about arts education being available to all the benefits of making and playing for social good and community - as well as the stability and calm having a creative life and making things can bring to individual mental health - and this extends to everyone, not just learners within formal education. It was such an amazing night and I have a lot of work to scan in and organise - as soon as it's done I'll blog about it!

Over on instagram I am taking part in #marchmeetthemaker - not usually one to commit myself to these types of things for a whole month (!) But last year I regretted not being involved, so say hello if you are doing it too or want to see more of who I am/what I do!