Bob Bailey

A myblog.arts site

Summaries of Elective Discussion Group 22.06.18


A Question and Answer session involving Jheoni Airborne, Alex Burgess and myself set around the readings and questions that we had selected 2 weeks previously was only 2 thirds successful / developed due to Jheoni “oversleeping” therefore unable to join in to the conversations and findings of Alex and myself. Laura Davidson joined Alex and my discussion group but due to the last minute matching Laura listened intently asking a few things that rather clarified our questions rather than leading to further discussions.


Alex Burgess’ reading:

“From Blended Learning to hybrid Pedagogy”, internet Blog by Kris Shaffer, 18th November 2016.

This blog entry related to the traditional forms of learning that might not relate to current practice or current behaviours. Choosing a technology based on its benefits to members of the dominant class or simply whatever class the developers belong to must exclude other people. “If we don’t constantly re-evaluate our educational purposes and our technological choices, we’ll end up wine-wineskin mismatched – tools and technologies lines up with someone else’s educational goals rather than our own”. It goes on to say that Digital media, unlike pencils and pen usage, requires a new strand of bullshit detection and that new computing skills become part of the curriculum and new methodology of Critical thinking become necessary. Hybrid and blended learning are also mentioned alongside quotes from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It’s a long read and I got a bit lost but it gradually made sense through the questions that Alex had asked:


Q1:   As a left-hander using the technology of the fountain pen, Kris Shaffer experimented with the strategy of mirror writing, like Da Vinci. It made his writing neater, prettier, more even. What kinds of resistances have you had in using digital technology and what strategies have you developed to overcome them?

A1:  My Resistances:; learning it all, keeping up with the latest software. Not all students can or want to use it. The costs of software and upgrades / updates (for students). Teachers getting left behind in such a fast moving digital world. These points I raised weren’t truly answering the question as I found out when we discussed Alex’s questions. It was about the use of software that wasn’t truly useful to us… Perhaps ‘Moodle’ could be one type where the programme feels like it is aimed at helping and consolidating information but it is not truly user friendly or utilised by most students. Sound clips and video instructions can be uploaded but are rarely done by all Departmental lecturers. I had no examples of any strategies to overcome them apart from suggesting that I could be sent on more software courses to overcome my fear of getting left behind by constantly evolving digital technology…

Q2:  Shaffer talks about the difference of Blended learning (referring to the ‘place’ learning takes place – physical/virtual) and a Hybrid pedagogy (re-thinks our conception of place to be a more theoretical space, such as a conversation) and their relationship within a physical space. Do you consider the concept of ‘Space’ to be an important factor to students learning?

A2:  Can every student study at home? No (there is not enough space at CSM to have all 3 years of all departments in the building at the same time. Has every student learnt or possess the self discipline of independent learning? No. International students may benefit from study alone but we ask for engagement; how do we ‘keep an eye on’ our students progress if they interact digitally or outside the physical educational environment? Art and Design can, surely, be taught in a blended way but is this leaning towards Peer learning rather than Academic? In a modern, ever changing digital world; isolationism will become the ‘norm’. Does creativity cease its power in isolationism?

Q3:  In Shaffer’s example of digital storytelling/DS106 he explains why and how he used the Syllabus Sprint method to create the students briefs with active student engagement. Do you think the ideas of the students writing their own projects/briefs is an effective method of teaching, or is this already happening, and we have subconsciously developed “art/design and communication” subjects to perform in this fashion anyway?

A3:  Do students come to talk or to listen – why so binary? Why not both. I do believe that students should help write the brief but we need to throw out exam grades as everything becomes too subjective. What is the value of a dissertation when one can be purchased? Why mark the end result of a perfectly designed and constructed fashion garment when it may have been made by an employee?




Jheni Arboine’s reading:

Christopher Frayling, Royal College of Art Research Papers Volume 1 Number 1 1993/4 – Research in Art and Design

A fascinating read about the definitions and changing attitudes to research. The OED shows that ‘research’ (small r) “an act of searching, closely or carefully, for or after a specified thing or person’ and ‘Research’ (big R) as “work directed towards the innovation, introduction, and improvements of products and processes” – research being used of Art, Research being used of Design. Using Picasso’s painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon Christopher Frayling quotes Picasso as saying ‘When I paint, my object is to show what I have found and not what I am looking for’. By using his visual memories of a visit to the red-light district of Barcelona, Iberian sculptures in the Louvre, Cezanne’s Mont-Saint-Victoire he suggested that these references should not be confused with research (only art historians would think otherwise). He saw himself as a maker not a researcher. Referencing Hollywood films Frayling criticises the exaggeration and stereotyping of artists or engineers, George Stubbs researching on animal anatomy, John Constable’s  researches into cloud formation suggests research outside their realm, outside their own knowledge; Leonardo’s research can not be seriously referenced as research material as it has been greatly superseded by modern findings, modern technology, modern tools. So artists have worked just as often in the cognitive idiom as the expressive, that some art counts as research – anyone’s definition, that some art doesn’t. He quotes John Constable’s Royal Institution lecture of 1836 “…Painting is a science, and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not landscape be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but experiments?” (Constable, John. (1836) Lecture Notes, May 26 & June 16, Artists on Art, op.cit, pp.270-273). Frayling goes on to write about the concept of design as research, applied research (resulting knowledge is used for a particular application) and action research (generates and validates new knowledge or understanding) and fundamental research. Research is often seen as existing outside studio design. Times have changed since teaching design using manuals and theoretical usage; it’s now an amalgam of the same manuals (albeit updated) but also pulling in strands from physics, mechanics, biology, anthropology and mathematics. The different strands of research into art and design (historical, aesthetic, theoretical perspectives), Research through art and design (materials, development work, practical experiments), Research for art and design. Higher and Honorary Doctorates are given to people with a distinguished body of work (both published and exhibited) but not for research degrees where the art is said to ‘speak for itself’. “How can I tell that I think till I see what I say?” (E.M. Forster’s Aunt talking to E.M. Forster) can become ‘How can I tell what I think till I see what I make and do?’ then becomes ‘How can I tell what I am till I see what I make and do?’

Jheni’s questions are:

Q1:  What do you understand by the meaning(s) of Research in this paper?

A1:  ‘Doing’ to broaden our view, ‘doing’ to confirm (or justifying) the view but is specific to a particular application. My summary above shows my understanding of the differences between actual and perceived research, the traditional values and methods of teaching compared to the discovery approaches of todays age.

Q2:  What ethical issues could be raised or considered?

A2:  Gender and race: how much research is available that is not white, male, christian? But I feel that research can lead to all things and should not, in context, be considered right or wrong. Grayling picks up on gender inequality in the paper by pointing out, in parenthesis; ‘always ‘his’, incidentally’ and ‘still it is usually ‘his” so it is clear that even he regards referencing rather abridged or restrictive – surely this makes research (whether large or small ‘R’) a limited experience in a historian setting, less so (but only marginally) in our modern age.

Q3:  How do issues of inclusive pedagogy apply to practice as research?

A3:  For practice it may be where to look, lecturers would/could steer student to places of research but only if the lecturer knows enough or has enough references that might cover a subject in all or any places or media. Reminding to advise students about the inclusivity factor in Research would be useful so that they do not ignore this or become very frustrated by the lack of historical references. Though I am not sure if I truly understand the question: Jheoni isn’t present to discuss this.




My own Elective sharing task was to ask Alex and Jheoni to watch a YouTube video  “Pay It No Mind”

It is a documentary about Marsha P. Johnson, a black, gay, transvestite, born in 1944, who moved to New York after being absued at an early age. She sat for a filmed interview on June 26th 1996 with subsequent additions by some of her friends. A brighter than bright extraordinary character who was a subculture in a subculture around Lower Manhattan in the 1970-80’s, an actor and activist (since 1969), a charismatic but impoverished guy in drag (“I never ever done Drag seriously. I never do it seriously. ’cause I don’t have the money to do serious Drag”) who felt more comfortable living as a woman than a man. She was one of the first to physically resist the Police who stormed Stonewall Inn (Christopher Street, The Village, NY) that fateful night June 28th 1969. A subject of a screen print by Andy Warhol in 1975 she would think more about helping others then herself. Her gay activism made her a more ‘interesting’ and enlightening figure in New York. Hustling on Broadway could make her $125 an hour, arrested for prostitution many times, castigated from Gay Pride marches in 1978 for being a transvestite – like being excluded from your own party ! Her Mother said that her son was lower than a dog for being homosexual. “I walk on the marches each year as we still don’t have all our rights” throughout the Aids Pandemic first noticed in 1982, creating an outreach for the homeless transgender community. Her body was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, 4 days after the filmed interview. The police were not prepared to investigate another black gay person’s death.

A moving, nostalgic, inspirational documentary; often uplifting with humour and joie de vivre, caring and positive, generous and kind… 55 minutes representing an amazingly strong and selfless individual.


And so my questions seemed quite banal having to relate a life lead to pedagogy…


Q1:  Would you open up this presentation in your teaching practice?

A1: Alex replied that he struggled for the first 10 minutes or so watching the footage as he thought it was of little interest to him on so many different levels. However; the charisma of Marsha made him persevere and watched the entire 55 minutes right through.

Q2:  How would you open up this subject in your practice?

A2:  Alex probably wouldn’t due to his role in LCF. However he suggested that he might consider showing a snippet of the documentary at the start or just before the start of one of his sessions as a ‘taster’. It might be a warm-up video to get the students to quieten down at the start of the session and might lead to a Q&A briefly at the send of the session (depending on timings of the lecture that he is supposed to give during the session). This video could be part of a series giving far more impact to the subjects chosen; to invigorate discussions and debate within the group and to broaden the Student’s references to the outside world… this would certainly work for my own teaching practice in Theatre and Screen Design department.

Q3:  Is this subject ‘worthy’ to be discussed in your class or too passé?

A3:  Not an easy answer; not enough time to discuss this apart from ‘yes; it is worthy and relevant to the students but the film, as it stands, is too long.


No feedback received from Jheni. Laura couldn’t give much feedback as she hadn’t seen the video but agreed with Alex’s input that the format needed to be short and impactful and would work better if the students weren’t forced to see it but somehow ‘came across it’ playing as they entered the room and ran till the start of the session. Laura’s input was greater and more productive, though, than Jheoni’s and spoke about how the film of Marsha’s would be a great buffer at the start of the session recalling Alex who likened it to the techniques that Lindsay will use at the start of some of our sessions – as students settle down to get their attention and provide a discussion point and background to a day of working in the studio. She thought about how it could be used as a teaching aid, for students to discuss, develop critical thinking skills and get inspired by – but without too much pressure.


I wholeheartedly agree with these findings. I thought that the subject matter would have been found to be too specific or not relevant to other lecturers’ practice or subject matter so I was pleasantly surprised and it has made me think more about what subjects I might proffer my students as ‘little gestures of information, research, life coaching, history, references, artists that doesn’t refer to the subject that I teach.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.

Skip to toolbar