Over the last six months the Teaching and Learning Exchange has been working with the Arts Students Union to co-create a zine for staff and students to share thoughts, views and experiences of decolonising the arts curriculumin higher education.
Hansika Jethnani (Arts SU Education Officer 2016-2018), Rahul Patel (Researcher, Curator and Lecturer) and I came together because of our shared determination for race equality and our understanding that decolonisation plays a critical role in this. We identified the need for a platform to discuss decolonisation specifically in relation to the arts curriculum. It was essential that such a platform would be supported by the institution and would allow for diverse perspectives, on this complex and contested topic, from both students and staff at UAL. The decision was made to co-produce a zine, as a way of breaking down some of the barriers to expression that traditional academic publishing can create.
A call for submissions was made in March, and a wealth of responses were received on the why, what and how of decolonisation in relation to arts education in general and specific creative practices. All submissions have been included, and offer personal, professional, creative and critical insights through a range of literary and visual media.
The launch event was held at UAL Central Saint Martins with a display of some of the zine contents. Hansika and I opened the event with some background to the zine’s production, and then Rahul invited contributors up to the stage to speak.
Image: Contributor Abbas Zahedi (and child) talking about the project behind his front cover image.
It was at this moment that we recognised what it was we have created, when hearing the contributors explain how important it has been for them to have space to share their experiences in relation to decolonisation, and inevitably colonisation. Contributors spoke of their own ethnic and national identities in relation to Britain’s colonial past and ‘multi-cultural’ present. They spoke of the current political situation affecting those of the Windrush generation, of islamophobia, and other forms of prejudice and discrimination based on race and nationality which affect both students and staff.
We hope that the zine will be supportive in this respect, whilst also contributing to wider discourses around decolonisation, and helping to inform developments in arts education, for the benefit of all of our community. And we hope for the discussion to continue through further events and the online platform, which has been set up for further perspectives to be shared.
The zine launch display at is open and accessible to the general public in the reception area at UAL Central Saint Martins (King’s Cross) until 9 July.
Diverse Student Voices in Creative Learning in Practice
We are, once again, inviting Course Directors to nominate students for the University’s Tell us about it project. This project is funded by the Dean of Students and is one of the key interventions agreed to support staff across the University to develop inclusive practices in relation to UAL’s key strategic priorities, which include addressing the attainment gap for specific student groups. It focuses on students of colour who are completing their course and who have achieved to a high level.
Mentoring and £200 Student bursary available
We want students to record or present their experiences, in their chosen form, to add to our collection of case studies and or artefacts, which inform learning and teaching across UAL. We will provide students with mentoring to produce their story and a bursary of £200.
The UAL assessment criteria working group is evaluating UAL’s current assessment matrices in order to develop new criteria that will be launched in Autumn 2019. This work is part of wider developments to enhance students’ experience of learning, assessment and feedback.
The assessment criteria that UAL launches in 2019 will meet the needs of the emergent classification approach that counts elements of credit at level 5 in degree classification calculations.
UAL will be introducing assessment matrices for each level of undergraduate study as well as one for postgraduate study. This will help us support students’ transition to HE and lead improvements in attainment by carefully differentiating expectations from level 4 to level 7.
Early consultation feedback suggests that some colleagues want unit learning outcomes to be recorded on OAT to support students’ understanding of the learning outcomes relationship to assessment criteria. The group are currently scoping how we might do this.
The group is exploring the extent to which our assessment criteria can reflect the behaviours, values, knowledges and practices we seek to inculcate and as a consequence we will align the assessment criteria to our Creative Attributes Framework.
We are currently developing a prototype set of matrices to pilot in the autumn term so we can get feedback from staff and students. If you would like to be part of this pilot then email me and I can send further information.
Camberwell Graduate Intern, Daisy Young, talks about her recent experience curating an exhibition with Year 1 BA Fine Art Students.
Vikki Hill, Project Associate: Changing Mindsets and Associate Lecturer: Thinking Teaching, and Daisy Young, Graduate Intern, Fine Art Programme, Camberwell College of Arts
At the Wilson Road Gallery on the 27th February 2018, Year 1 BA Fine Art students from Camberwell College of Arts exhibited work they had produced in response to the Changing Mindsets workshop in November 2017.
Critiquing the problematic term ‘Talent’, and exploring the fine art practitioner’s approach to failure, ‘What is Talent, What is Failure?’ challenged fixed beliefs of intelligence and asked how we might embrace risk.
The exhibition was curated by Graduate Intern, Daisy Young, who has been involved in the development of the Changing Mindsets workshops for staff and students at Camberwell over the project’s pilot year.
Photo credit: Gareth Johnson
VH: Can you tell me a bit about your background and the role you have now at Camberwell?
DY: My role at Camberwell as the graduate intern came shortly after I graduated from my BA Fine Art degree at Chelsea College of Art. It was a role that was advertised for a recent graduate to be appointed to a department across CCW.
The aim of the placement is to get someone from a working-class family into art employment, the only requirement was that neither of your parents went to university. When applying for the role you had to outline what you would do once you were part of the department. For me this was focused towards student led projects.
This role has given me time and resources to get things off the ground that I never had time to infiltrate when studying, such as a cross college, cross course, cross year exhibition which is coming up in April.
I found my time at UAL really difficult as I felt as if I never really fitted in due to my background, not only my financial situation but my lack of engagement with culture. It felt as if some people were unaware of the struggles of growing up with very little money, studying with no financial help from home, or how little I knew about the art world and the literature that comes along with it.
I think the position I hold as Graduate Intern is helpful with this gap, as it allows me to have conversations with tutors that perhaps when studying I felt were impossible to engage with due to lack of time or confidence.
Photo credit: Gareth Johnson
VH: What was it that particularly interested you in the Changing Mindsets workshops, what was your motivation and how did you plan to engage students in an exhibition?
DY: They were of particular interest to me as a space for both students and tutors to discuss ways in which the current UK academic structures represent some outdated curriculum or ideas.
It posed questions and started discussions around class, race and gender and the stereotypes that are generated when talking about this. I sat in on both staff and student workshops and was surprised by the different attitudes that were raised. It was fascinating to hear how people from completely different generations engage with the stereotypes and whether they feel affected by them or not.
The notion of talent and what it means to be talented was raised in relation to fixed mindsets and grow mindsets. I thought this was particularly relevant within the art school context as you are required to have a certain level of ‘talent’ before you arrive, which is gauged through a portfolio interview.
It made me wonder how students gauge themselves against the word ‘talent’ and whether they believe natural ability is something that can be learned or if it’s something that you’re born with. I decided to put out an open call for an exhibition in relation to this. I called it ‘What is talent? What is failure?’ in the hope that it would get students thinking about how they judge their own work as successful or not.
Photo credit: Gareth Johnson
VH:From the variety of work that was submitted, tell me about one piece that particularly resonated with you in context of the project and why was this?
DY: The work submitted all responded to the theme in a very similar way, no one showed work that they didn’t believe was successful, and therefore responded to the talent aspect of the question. I very much expected this to happen, to show something you are proud of that you believe is successful is far easier than to show a failed piece of work.
Artwork by Nikos Christodoulou
For me talent and drive go hand in hand. Productivity allows for mistakes which allows you to learn, I believe this was most evident within the work of Nikos Christodoulou due to the speed that’s present with the marks he uses to make up his large ink drawings. The creases and marks all over the drawings give them charm as it shows his eagerness to make without fear of mistake.
I think the exhibition was a success as it gave a platform for students to display and talk about work in a stress-free environment with students from other courses that they wouldn’t have known before, opening up their immediate networks and hopefully allowing them to feel as if they have a place within this institution.
Photo credit: Gareth Johnson
Martin Del Busto
In March 2018 Vikki Hill, Changing Mindsets Project Associate and Associate Lecturer: Thinking Teaching visited Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design under the EU Erasmus Staff Training Mobility programme.
All image credits: Vikki Hill unless otherwise stated.
Image Courtesy of ABK Stuttgart
The three buildings that make up Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design (also known as ABK Stuttgart) are situated in the leafy Killesburg Park area of Stuttgart and neighbor an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site – The Weissenhof Estate, built as part of an ambitious 1927 Modernist Housing exhibition overseen by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe with contributions from Le Corbusier and Jeanneret, amongst others.
Against the backdrop of these Modernist structures, I began my 2-day Erasmus Staff Training Mobility in a university, city, state and country with a very strong cultural history, sense of identity and incredibly good traditional cuisine (Swabian). The state of Baden-Württemberg borders both France and Switzerland and is amongst one of the wealthiest regions in Europe. The demographic of the student population at the Academy (900 students) is very different to UAL’s and I was interested in learning about their approaches to art education and attainment.
My fantastic hosts, Rector Prof. Dr. Barbara Bader and Junior Professor Annette Hermann, spent time with me giving me an insight into the schooling and higher education systems in Germany as well as sharing their own research. Annette is the newly appointed professor for teaching and learning and is responsible for FLAG.
Image Courtesy of the Flag project, ABK Stuttgart
FLAG is an innovative learning and teaching laboratory for art education. It is situated at the intersection of the art teacher training program at the Academy of Fine Arts Stuttgart, and its associated partners in the educational domain. The aim of the project is to intensify the integration of academic and in-school training by way of research-oriented and research-based teaching and learning opportunities for students, teachers, and professors alike. By implication, this cross-institutional and intergenerational endeavour aspires to closely link (art) educational theory and practice.
As part of her PhD, Annette has been developing an action research project with students and teachers to explore the role of an art teacher with a particular focus on motivation and interest. What was particularly interesting to me, in context of attainment, was our discussion about the many levels of inclusion and exclusion experienced by the student population that studies Fine Art Teacher Education. One of the most startling statistics is that 60% of fathers 40% of mothers of students studying to be fine art teachers have at least a Masters degree. This is well above the national average, statistically. Annette had also researched the inheritance rate – 22.2% of all students had a family member who was a teacher.
In my interview with Silke Heimlicher, Head of Academic Affairs, we discussed positive discrimination in context of gender and disability in the workplace and although changes have begun to take place, the gender pay gap still exists in Germany.
Although the work on sexual discrimination is landed, there is no data collection or analysis in context of race. Partly due to there being a very low number of students identifying as non-white German at ABK-Stuttgart, and also from a cultural perspective where ethnic monitoring is seen as highly problematic, there is currently no institutional lens to view the experiences of students from BME backgrounds.
Silke explained that although monetary obstacles in accessing higher education are reduced (there are no university fees in the current German system), the barriers to progression exist culturally.
Students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and those whose parents did not attend university, are more likely to be expected to enter an apprenticeship. Mindset, rather than performance, is a deciding factor in parental support in continuing education.
Sonja Fendal, Head of International Student Experience and her colleague, Samantha Schramm, discussed the difficulties that some Erasmus exchange students from the UK face in terms of language acquisition. This was particularly interesting as, in context of my attainment work, I often hear staff refer to ‘international students’ as a homogenous group, and it was refreshing to consider that we are all ‘international’ and that language and cultural differences are an inherent part of our global experience.
My time in Stuttgart would not have been complete without a visit to the Staatsgalerie to see the permanent collection alongside the Master of Messkirch exhibition. This was an incredibly informative show that detailed the work of an artist from Swabia who adhered to Roman Catholic practices that countered the Reformation that encompassed the whole of Württemberg.
What I gained from the Erasmus Staff Mobility
The Erasmus Staff Mobility offered a much-needed period of reflection on my own work as Changing Mindsets Project Associate and the opportunity to share best practice and learn from the academics I met. The networking has encouraged a collaboration between myself and Annette Hermann to explore attainment, progression and intersectionality across our institutions. I also connected with teaching staff and was able to introduce them, by email, to academics at UAL to share their practice and approaches.
I was previously unaware of the cultural specifics around language and terminology such as the word ‘race’ that in Germany is only used for animals, not humans. This is influenced by Germany’s 20th Century history and it was important for me to consider the impact of this in how I design and plan my workshop presentation for the upcoming ELIA conference in Rotterdam. It was through my conversations and interviews at ABK-Stuttgart that I explored the impact of presenting work about race and attainment in a North-Western European context.
My understanding of the education system in Germany and the routes into university was a particular point of interest. Barbara Bader explained the progression to become an art teacher and the government accreditation that is received.
Finally, to be an outsider, to be reliant on others for translation, opens up a space to build empathy towards UAL staff and students whose first language is not English. I am happy to discuss the application process or anything further about the exchange. I would like to thank Prof. Susan Orr, Dean of Teaching and Learning and Bertha Archer, Erasmus Finance Administrator, for their support from UAL, and also to Rector Prof. Dr. Barbara Bader and Junior Professor Annette Hermann for their kind welcome and hospitality in Stuttgart.
The Teaching and Learning Exchange is delighted to announce our fourth group of UAL Teaching Scholars, along with two new Senior Teaching Scholars.
Recipients received their awards this week from UAL Deputy Vice-Chancellor Simon Ofield-Kerr at the annual UAL Learning and Teaching Conference, held this year at Camberwell College of Arts.
Our warmest congratulations to you all.
Introduced in 2015, the UAL Teaching Scholars’ Award is a prestigious award that celebrates teaching at the University; it formally recognizes colleagues who have demonstrated a sustained commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.
Successful applicants receive funding and support over a two-year period to develop an aspect of their teaching practice that is designed to both impact on student learning and develop their leadership roles within the wider teaching and learning community.
New UAL Teaching Scholars for 2018
Bethan Alexander is course leader for MA Fashion Retail Management at the London College of Fashion.
Her project will create a mentoring network for students in Fashion Retail Management with two strands. The first will support the transition into M-level study, and the second will enable students to access industry mentors to support their progression into employment.
Graham Barton is Academic Support Coordinator within Academic Support, Library and Student Support Services.
Graham will complete a trans-disciplinary action research project that will examine how arts students can benefit from examining their learning strategies and creative practices through the means of sound arts and music improvisation.
Ian Thompson is Outreach Manager at Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon.
He will complete a large-scale study to identify the expectations of students in post-sixteen education with relation to: their future working lives, skills they think they will need, and what motivates them. Findings from the study will then be used to develop a new peer-mentoring programme for students designed to develop their skills and wider professional attributes.
UAL Senior Teaching Scholar Announcements
UAL Senior Teaching Scholars are appointed on the basis of both completing their tenure as Teaching Scholars and gaining further professional recognition as Senior Fellows of the Higher Education Academy. By successfully applying to become Senior Fellows these colleagues have demonstrated excellence in student learning, and supporting others to become better teachers.
Dr Pratap Rughani is Acting Associate Dean Research at the London College of Communication.
Pratap’s project drew on his expertise as a documentary filmmaker to create a film and guide that explores the complexity of ethics in both research and making. These resources can now be used as a researcher-development tool for staff and students.
Shibboleth Shechter is senior lecturer and stage one coordinator for the BA Interior & Spatial Design at Chelsea College of Arts.
As UAL Teaching Scholar, she explored how live projects can be embedded into the curriculum and how the student experience of participating in live projects can be documented and disseminated.
Emma Thatcher joined the Careers & Employability team last summer as Enterprise Practitioner, a new role dedicated to helping UAL students and alumni to turn their business and freelance ambitions into a reality.
Prior to joining UAL Emma worked at London Metropolitan University and creative business incubator Cockpit Arts.
So Emma, tell us more about UAL’s enterprise programme and how it links to not just a shop?
The enterprise programme is specially designed to give UAL students and alumni who are looking to start their own creative business, set up as a freelancer, or sell their work – the enterprising skills they need to do so. As the name suggests, not just a shop is much more than a retail space, it’s also a learning space – hosting talks and workshops on topics from pricing your work to protecting your intellectual property – and a space to support with starting and developing their businesses.
What topics does enterprise programme cover and why they are important for entrepreneurs?
The enterprise programme is designed to include all you need to know when starting a creative business or starting a freelance practice. Topics include, for example, building a brand, pricing your work, getting into manufacture and working with retailers.
Students and recent graduates can also book a one-to-one session with myself for tailored advice on starting up a business or how to get access to our funding.
Who can participate?
Students from across UAL and recent alumni (within 2 years of graduating) can participate in the workshops and one-to-one sessions for free. Alumni can also book the space for enterprising activates such as product launches or peer to peer groups.
In addition, UAL alumni that meet our buying policy can submit their work to be considered for sale in not just a shop through our open calls.
Why UAL is doing this?
We want to empower UAL students and graduates to make a living doing what they love. Being a specialist arts and design university, there is much interest in setting up creative businesses and entering the creative industries in a strong position. In a recent survey 30% of UAL students told us they were freelancing at the same time as studying.
We prepare students and support them through new and sometimes unfamiliar territory; giving them the skills and confidence to plan how they will develop a business and find work. We also help them to make informed decisions about how they’ll promote what they do, protect their designs and create a sustainable business.
What do you believe are some common mistakes entrepreneurs/start-ups make?
Not realising how much free help and support is out there! Certainly for those studying or having graduated from UAL.
I would say a common mistake is starting up without making a plan. This doesn’t mean each start up needs an arduously long business plan; but it really helps to create an outline of what you want to achieve with goals. I help students to break it into action points (as well as pass on tools and templates, plus top tips) so starting out doesn’t seem like an insurmountable task.
Another mistake people can make when starting out is underselling themselves. It’s my job to make sure our students and graduates feel confident and know their value when they enter the market. Sometimes they need guidance when it comes to believing how important their work is so that they go into negotiations and/or decide on their prices in a way that ensures they get paid fairly and competitively.
What start-up funding opportunities does UAL provide?
UAL’s SEED Fund helps to grow new business ideas and support enterprising initiatives developed by our students and graduates. We run 3 different levels of funding to support you from the first stages of developing your idea, through to testing it out and on to starting to trade. SEED Fund ‘Do it’ award winners each receive £5,000 plus mentoring and one-to-one support to help them to launch and develop their business.
DEL (Digitally Engaged Learning) is an annual conference organised in partnership with University of the Arts London, Texas State University, Penn State University and The New School’s Parsons School of Design. Each year DEL is hosted by one of these partners or an invited host institution, bringing together educators and learners from across the UK, USA, Canada, Europe and the southern hemisphere, to celebrate and critique digitally engaged teaching and learning in art and design Higher Education.
DEL is purposefully inclusive, and its participants, including educators, technicians, librarians, instructional designers, artists, makers, researchers, art historians, digital humanities scholars and others, draw upon a broad array of references and practices in their presentations and workshop activities.
There is no core theoretical canon underpinning the conversation, and the conference ethos encourages attendees to share their individual approaches and scholarly experiences. Attitudes, planned investigations, uses of digital tools (their affordances and subversions), networks, malfunctions, failings and happy accidents are given equal credence; the practical is esteemed as much as the academic.
This is a conference for those who are engaged in teaching, learning and creative practice, whatever their particular expertise – its intention is mutual development and encouragement across territories.
This conference presumes an interest in the ways learning takes place in a digitally networked age, whilst being aware that inspirational pedagogy was in operation prior to the advent of computers, digital devices and the internet. It encourages an appreciation of how new technologies can enhance traditional understandings and vice versa – the presumption is not that technological novelty must replace established approaches.
Whilst tensions around ‘the march of progress’ are often brought to the surface as delegates question the rationales of institutions, developers and one another, the environment is convivial. With their breadth of interests and disciplines, delegates come to hear and learn from one another and celebrate each others’ valuable perspectives. Moreover, there is the sense that being with each other in this conference space can forge new meanings that may be taken away and investigated in other contexts.
As well as this atmosphere of community, a spirit of intentionality is at play. Programmes are carefully constructed to provoke dialogue, and always extend beyond traditional seminar spaces. Social aspects are viewed as intrinsic to this endeavour; recent conference dinners have been arranged around the barbecue of a bar terrace, across the tables of a pool hall or amidst the reclaimed garden of an urban construction site. Environments are arranged to inspire and foster friendly debate.
The theme of DEL17, Making Teaching / Teaching Making, was designed to reflect ongoing concerns with the bridging of perceptions of a digital / physical divide. The social media threads that were woven throughout the conference events encouraged commentary from all present, and generated additional creative and conceptual resource.
This is a conference where makers are able to collaborate with others, whether their selected tools are powered by electricity, battery or human motor. It is a visual environment, where ‘arts values’ are evidently afforded the regard they ought to be in academia. Music, movement and making are as key to the thinking and talking as reading will be in other circles; and computers play physical roles. Things will happen at DEL that cannot elsewhere, because the creative energy produced and channeled by the people that come together here drives the doing of more.
For example, at DEL17 a pre-conference event invited delegates to gather for an informal workshop of conversational prompts and making materials. The physical-digital outcome was the #digitalmakermanifesto, launched on Instagram and featuring the artefacts produced, as provocation to further discussion.
The ethos of ‘making conversations’ was encouraged by the presence of the DEL dalek: a mobile making space / device, kitted out with lo-tech tools and materials from which anyone might craft responses to discussions.
The dalek became a motif that infused both sessions and breaks at Central St Martins, UAL, with a sense of playful anarchy, and was utilised by various presenters in individual sessions: when people needed stuff to make things with, the dalek was wheeled in! From its initial entrance with a vocoder announcement of intent, it became adorned with decoration and post-its, and its material stocks depleted. Delegates took away the devices they had fashioned from it as aides memoires. At this conference, not only photographic, but also pen & ink and 3D documentation gets posted digitally, to illustrate its expansive happenings.
In various sessions, delegates showed the fabrication of drawing machines (or sketchbots), servers used as sketchbooks, animators’ characterisation of junk models utilising the affordances of social media, expressions of wicked problems with found objects, creative coding considering STEAM over STEM, 3D printing in clay and a jam session with a group of staff and students who come together to explore emerging digital technologies: playing with pedagogy via computational materials.
More traditionally academic presentations of research findings were equally prevalent, with discussions and workshops around learning environments, feedback, creative graduate attributes, big data and small scale curricula interventions exempla of the richly varied programme of events around and about creative disciplines.
DEL is a conference for educators and those excited by the possibilities of education, in co-creation and construction of learning. Equally it makes calls to community and activism, as represented by politically-charged keynotes and student panels. You make of DEL what you will, since it presents platforms on and from which to work. Crucially, the conversation is always intended to extend beyond the physical space on the conference, recognising our networks and connections through digital means.
Anyone who attends will be welcomed by a global community who recognise their privilege in being there, and want to extend this to others beyond.
“Decolonising the Arts Curriculum: Perspectives on Higher Education”
Deadline: 5pm Fri 09 March
This zine is a Student Union and Teaching & Learning Exchange co-production, and is part of the ongoing work to address the attainment gaps that persist at UAL and the call to widen the curriculum.
It is aimed at both students and staff, and intends to offer a collection of perspectives, ideas and thoughts on decolonising the curriculum, especially from a creative arts and design perspective.
It is not intended to be a definitive education tool, but rather a zine that will engage those who are currently not engaging with these topics, raise awareness and open up conversations that will allow people to take things further in their courses and collaborate within and outside the university setting.
The aim of AEM is to improve student experience and student attainment at UAL measured against four key metrics:
Overall attainment against sector benchmarks
The attainment differentials between Home BAME and Home White students
The attainment differentials between International and Home students
AEM joins up attainment activity across the university to give courses focused support to reach our target of closing the attainment gap by 2022.
We’re looking forward to working with Course teams across UAL in the coming year and to sharing good practice, initiatives and projects focused on closing the attainment gaps and improving the student experience at UAL.
Please do get in touch with your college lead if you’d like more information.