Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Meeting Notes 2/21

Teaching Artist Union Meeting


In attendance – Chris, Allison Faye, Doug, Hiroshi and Jalelle

Discussion - Ideas for funding:

* Approach the people behind the education programs at Museums
* Have a dinner at a fancy persons house
* Luncheon with donors
* Ask local gallerys to sponsor and donate
* Hiroshi will check into English Kills gallery

Discussion - Outreach

* Need more visuals
* Create a Youtube/viral video
* More performance
* Still not sure what “school house” means or who the students/teachers are

Request: Create a wish list of donations needed for the school (ie. Tents for the park)

Discussion: Create more Class Ideas

* Allison – Materials based class – use stuff from the surrounding area for collaborative sculpture
* Hiroshi – would make mini-pinwheels with students that attach to fake eyelashes

Idea – Allison - have an installation at a gallery for the month of July – with a live feed of activity from the park

For next meeting Allison Faye would like to talk briefly about her art education research project: - would like to get TA’s involved.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

School of the Future Site visit

School of The Future: Group Site Visit 01-24-10
Notes by Angelina

Union Hall meeting with Site Visit to Sgt. Dougherty Park

The School of the Future was created upon the value that Teaching is part of the Artistic Practice. Often with schools losing budget and stressing tests, arts education has evaporated from the public school sphere. Recently, many schools hire artists to come in and supplement learning with creative activities. This versatile and pioneering person is known as a Teaching Artist. It has served as a way for an artist to have a consistent paying job, as well as test their creative adaptability within unpredictable situations. However, as this group of people have been more needed, the resources and networks for helping these pioneers have been slow to crystallize. First to form was the Teaching Artists Union, artists organizing and sharing solutions, experiences, and ideas to refine their process and develop their practice. Often,
a teaching artist feels like they have the whole art department in their backpack. Out of this need for a teaching artist community, a center without a nucleus, the School of the Future was birthed. For one month in July, the Teaching Artist will have a physical center in which to orbit, building their craft, testing their processes and pushing the roles of the teaching artist, welcoming the school as a place to belong for the TA to exhibit their work as well as their process.

The School is a way to showcase the adaptability and versatility of the TA- ability to respond to situation/location and develop creative solutions.

The School of the Future hopes to build a manual or standards by Teaching Artists for Teaching Artists in hopes of legitimizing the role of a TA. The project is a critique of Public Education as well as an action research collaboration to build upon, answering the question "How do you teach through your practice/art". The goal is to create a reproduceable model, this is the test run, and then refine, to collaborate with TA everywhere. The entire process will be documented and refined for future schools of THE FUTURE!

It is an exploration into ones own process, targeting a specific audience, and then bringing that audience into one's own.

The actual physical space of the school is going to be a collaborative space for creativity, a re-definition of where learning and art can take place, where "a few people in a park can count as school". All ages of students are encouraged. The stress on inter-disciplinary learning is part of the TA durability. This month, Cassie is using paper mache, wire and paint, to exhibit the environments in which mushrooms grow. The approach of teaching stresses "situated learning" in that learning is embedded within activity, context, and culture and that social interaction and collaboration are essential components.

One of the main goals of the School of the Future is to help the Teaching Artist meet their audience and teach that which you most want to learn. Using art education as a problem solving tool, The School of the Future will transform Sgt. Dougherty Park to be a lively place for discussion, creativity, and community while bringing education through art to a place that needs it.

In attendance:
Lisa, Roman, Hope, Autumn, Jonathan, Jose, Seth, Dave, Adam, Aaron, Kate, Kate, Valeria, David, Chris, Angelina, Dan, Colin, Kate (yes there were 3 kates!)

School of the Future Interview Pt. 3

A follow up interview with Kate Cahill, architect, about the building of the School of the Future:

What is the relationship between student and teacher in the School of the Future?
Is their an implicit hierarchy of space? Do all students need direct access to the teacher? Or to each other? At what point does a gathering of people become a learning environment?

-Good questions, but the building of the school house is a hub, more of a meeting place and the activities will be happening in the park and the world. Answering your questions:
Students are often teachers and I think there will be a cycle of teaching and learning happening that is hopefully intergenerational. So we would all sit around a table more than a teacher would likely project upon a group. Speaking of projection, WE DON’T YET HAVE A POWER SOURCE and this means that we might not be projecting very often, which is fine, which means we should be able to write on something big. Big white boards?
Classes will probably be pretty small. Teacher access is key- I hope to see a lot of one on one interactions, or small groups. Students will definitely be collaborating as a single body in many classes, at other times working separately. The whole park is a learning environment.

How are you going to measure success and failure within your curriculum? Is this important to you?
This is really important, but the process of making the school will lead to a version of assessment. We could have a scoreboard to measure the success of the whole school though! I think we are measuring the school and not the students. I believe that teachers know how to teach and students know how to learn, and everyone has the capacity to do both. But I definitely do not know how to run a school, so this is a process that will show us what does and doesn’t work. Make sense?

What is a curriculum? vs. a list of classes? (I have a lot of follow up questions to this one but let's get your first impressions here)
A curriculum is a plan. It’s got a learning goal with a list of steps that will define a process that will reach that goal. The example of what I am teaching now: I want to teach kids that we are organisms, constantly reacting and adapting to our environment. To show this, we are constructing a mountain they can fit inside, which is the perfect habitat to grow mushrooms. We will construct this environment, study what type of biosphere it creates, and then see how mushrooms react to the environment. Blah blah…

Within an art-based curriculum, what is the distinction between self-expression [ that learning?] and education? Self expression is the most important kind of learning. But your self extends to your context (environment and your surrounding community). And the process of self expression is super duper important, because the making of things (even a watercolor self portrait) offers the opportunity to complete a task, refine a skill, experiment with materials, solve a multitude of little problems, have faith in a process and in your own abilities, etc etc. Here is another example. Say there is a figure painter that wants to teach a class. Could they adapt to painting a portrait of the neighborhood? Perhaps they could create an army of painters to paint portraits of local people so we have a map of portraits of the neighborhood. Or could they paint portraits of the park? Before and after the makeover? How do you show personality in a portrait and how does that translate to the rendering of a place? Eh?

What are your personal assumptions about why anyone would want to come to the School of the Future?

To meet people, to experiment with teaching, to learn something new, to try a new process, to be a part of a community, to get attention for what you do as a teacher, to witness yet another artist run school, to see what that glowing box is in the park…

What are all the best things about the school of the present?

Elementary Schools feel like little microcosms. The teachers’lounge is often a haven of snacks and support (in good schools). It really feels like everything you need to exist (as a child) is inside those schools.
Every surface is used (sometimes it can be a problem, other times it can be amazing use of space) I have some images of class rooms that are packed from bottom to top with the learning process and it looks really exciting and warm.
Scale changes to respond to different sizes of people.
I love swinging doors.
Display cases inserted in walls in the hallway are good.
Old auditoriums with big curtains and lots of old seating in a rounded orientation: beautiful.
Old gym floors. Glorious.
New playgrounds seem to have a blue track with green astroterf in the center with a covered gazebo thing. Beautiful!

It would be great to ask some questions of the Parks Dept rep like: What features do you design into park fixtures to make them vandalism-resistant? Or, a litmas test-type question like: If we bought a garden shed at Home Depot and plopped it in the park, would that be an allowable structure?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Teaching Artist Union Sunday Meeting Summary

17 January 2010, notes by Angelina

Attendees: Angelina, Lisa, Alison, Alice, Abigail, James, Dan, Chris, Huong, Jeremiah, Janette, Cory, Jennifer, Rachel

2pm Guest Poet, Dan Godston, from Chicago read from “Diving into The Letters in Poems: Creating Poetry Banners,” an editorial project of the Center for Arts Policy at Columbia College, Chicago
-Dan uses the nuts and bolts of how to make a poetry banner with a class to discuss his philoshophy of teaching and idea synthesis within an informative article that at moments breaks down into poetry. Great example of a curriculum as an art piece.

Jennifer Sullivan reads Natalie Goldberg excerpt from Writing Down the Bones
importance of place, beauty in the mundane, an artists life as inherently lonely, solitude and recognizing the inner electricity. Artists as minority of majority in Brooklyn?

Interdisciplinary challenges- opening the artist within teachers, others who don’t identify as an artists. Teaching as inherently creative. Inspiring other teachers to think beyond The Tests.

School of the Future presented by Cassie and Chris

Bullet points of school:
-Joining Teaching artists, and artists with a lesson to teach to fill this lack of creative energy in schools and learning. To take the learning outside of the confines of a classroom and into the brownfields of Bushwick.
-To create a place where teaching artists can belong
-to teach information and life skills through the process of making
-solving problems that we are faced with in a particularly problematic place
-Creating curricula as an art piece: A call for contributions in response to the place and its issues.
-the ecology of the area, use of waste, creating an open + life promoting environment
-anti-insular, involve community representatives, invite organizations to get involved
-using the architecture as a staple symbol for deconstructing the education system, as well as its location sandwiched between the BQE and Staples

How to make a class around an art project- Avant garde teaching!

There will be assistance on the website about how to write a lesson plan,
begin to pool resources

Need: Fundraising, neighborhood outreach, curriculum, design contest with Columbia U

Skillshare by Huong: Patternmaking and Lifeskills
Huong lead us to make “The Ideal Uniform”, deconstructing pre-existing clothing items that we would want to potentially wear every day, make variations on, and experiment with
We learned how to look at clothing as a pattern for the construction of a new version of the same piece
Challenge of working Life lessons into life skills: Making patterns and body image,
Discussion Points:
-How can we focus on Consumption- production cycle, life cycles of things, proposing the question of how things are made (where does milk come from) and opening the conversation for critical thinking?
-What are ways of visualizing the unseen aspects of everyday things?
-How do we use art and group projects as a comfortable environment for introducing push button topics, creating dialogue between students and teacher?
-How to open up ideas of body image, sexuality, etc within the process of collaging, mentoring, storytelling, asking about a students work, and sometimes ignoring the issue to allow an opening for questions?

Some names dropped (Resources): Chris Carlson’s Nowtopia, Bruce Mao, Cradle to Cradle, Bristol Project, Richard Hopkins- Tradition Towns, Green Museum, Reggio Emilia Italian teaching approach

Saturday, January 16, 2010



2PM Check in, talk about what’s going on in life
2:45PM Dan Godston reads to us some 3dimensional Poetry
3PM Introducing TAU/School of the Future Interns! Cory and Angelina
3:15PM Cassie and Chris talk about the School of the Future
3:30PM Go over dates and opportunities.
3:34:39PM Question to discuss: How do you teach life skills in your classes? Are you able to cause your students to think critically about consumption, gender, and body image? How?
4PM Huong teaches patternmaking!


JANUARY 24, 1pm Union Hall
Planning Meeting/Site Visit
School of the Future is a portable center for un-graduated study of information through performing and visual arts, based on the philosophy of the teaching artist. Opening this JULY in Bushwick’s Sgt. Dougherty Park for ONE month of 24 HOUR programming,

Support Meeting #1:
Phoebe Zinman-Winters presents

Future of the History of Education
Workshop-performance-lecture by

Plausible Artworlds Online Conversation
School of the Future
Virtual Potluck Discussion

FEBRUARY 21, 2pm
Art Presentations by Artists
Jennifer Sullivan and Erica Magrey talk about Costumes, Histories, and Performance Methods.

FEBRUARY 25, 7pm
Teaching Artist Union presents as part of ARTWORK NEWSPAPER Conversation @TRADESCHOOL