Community Arts Roundtable – What motivates a learning experience?

It was great to have everyone back together after a two-week hiatus! Below is a summary of notes from our conversations on best practices from the first part of the class.

Nadius and Thorton Readings – What motivates a learning experience?:

  • Demystifying the art world (practice and process) for students is important: thinking from your own perspectives of your own inaccessible art-understandings – immersing yourself into things you don’t understand to help make learning demystified for others.
  • Tradition of trying to break students during critique – the critical of the process of critique – the “breaking” process is not always helpful. Its more about creating entry points that allow for students to find ways into talking about their own thinking and that of others.
  • Thinking about times when projects, assignments or critiques did not work – what are the outcomes? What to do if a student becomes very critical of the process you are leading them through – talking about the issue of bias and trying to create an open space for everyone is important.
  • Work generates inspiration…John Cage – just make your work and the rest will follow.
  • The crit is a foundational piece of the art world but this is not in the public realm, making connections between work in both arenas.
  • Eric Booth (Art Ed thinker in the field) was asked: What is the difference between art and entertainment? His answer: Entertainment is something that operates in the status quo and celebrates it (reinforcing and celebrating the mainstream culture) and art challenges the status quo and breaks new ground to challenge this (this imagines a critical community – creating a 3rd party that determines what should get celebrated and criticized). Maybe the position of entertainment vs art has to do with the viewer rather than the industry itself.
  • The whole idea of being an artist today is a revolutionary act, so that is challenging the status quo, but does it not always have to play out that way. There are artists who entertain and break the status quo like Damian Hearst.
  • Artists operate at the intersection of past, present and future…
  • What are the impulses that are driving your thinking and your work?

Notes from your observations and faculty interviews around best practices:


  • create community
  • food / yoga / humor
  • teaching disposition: open, honest, generous
  • building relationships: using students names / eye contact


  • be prepared
  • breaking up and providing variety of strategies within a class
  • short, in-class exercises with whole group, followed by individual studio work time
  • providing agenda (roadmap) for the class at beginning of the session
  • foregrounding student thinking
  • framing application of technical skills for transfer across media and genres
  • voice projection
  • support connection making (i.e. between theory and practice)
  • co-constructing knowledge with students
  • empowering students / putting students in charge


  • Student Presentations
  • Lecture
  • Critical Review
  • Personal Storytelling
  • Dialogue
  • Theater Games
  • Discussion Groups _____________________________________________________________

photo 2

Community Arts Roundtable

The second half of class we had a fabulous conversation about teaching in the arts with a group of CCA alumni who all work in various non-profit venues to support learning in the arts.



NOTE: Next week Field Trip to Southern Exposure and Roots Division – please check out their websites to learn more about them before we visit. We will meet at 8:30 sharp at Sightglass Coffee, 20th and Alabama right next to Southern Exposure in San Francisco.

1. Teaching Philosophy – Teasing out your core beliefs and writing a short statement. DUE to share in class on April 25th.

Team up with a partner for an in-depth interview about their teaching ideas and approaches. Based on what you discover, create a bullet pointed list of your partner’s core beliefs and give it to them as a resource to draw on.

During your interview – use these tips derived from positive inquiry practices:

  • Engage your curiosity – be a hungry questioner.  Try to get to the substance of the images and experiences that shape your partner’s ideas and beliefs.
  • Ask for as much detail as possible
  • Allow time for thinking….give and take
  • Jot down key phrases and make a bullet pointed list of core beliefs to give to your partner.
  • Please check out this resource for some ideas and questions to ask from Ohio State University on writing a teaching philosophy
  • With the notes your partner gives you about your conversation and your own reflections -DRAFT in your journal a short statement on your teaching philosophy incorporating your core beliefs, values and approaches.

2. Readings: Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 2 by Paulo Freire (now in the dropbox)

3. Blog Reflection: Respond to question of the week from Amanda now up on the blog

4. On-going Curriculum Development/Observations: bring to class on Friday April 25th



About tnoval

Faculty at California College of the Arts
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