Journal Entry #1: This article focuses on higher education. Write a response and pose some ideas you think you could implement in your own teaching practice. Finnigan, T. (2009), ‘‘Tell Us About It’: Diverse student voices in creative practice’. Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education. 8: 2, pp. 135–150.
Finnigan’s article tells of a project called “Tell Us About It” that encourages students from diverse and minority backgrounds to express their feelings openly on their university experience. I find that the project is very important as Art and Design teachers would better understand the student’s thoughts through a common language of creativity rather than through words that may label the student as ‘different’ when trying to explain his struggles. It also aims to show that students are able to perform, meet, and even surpass academic expectations when given projects relevant to their personal experiences and backgrounds rather than those that alienate them, dispelling the prejudice of some educators.
From my personal experience, I think providing openness in academic projects is of vital importance in a student’s first year attending university in a new place. The student is physically outside of his comfort zone, while educators try to push the student outside of his artistic comfort zone. I find that this is a big mistake because an Art student would find consolation through creating art in a manner he is comfortable with. When pushed to use different materials, paint on sizes that intimidate him, or address specific subject matter that is irrelevant to him during his first year, it discourages the student as he is given no chances to find comfort amidst the confusion of his alienating environment, it alienates him further. Thus, I believe that self-directed assignments are important in a student’s first year in a new setting because it enables him to realize his topics or materials of interest and will allow for him to address and question them as he continues his education in following years. It also gives a chance for the student to express himself and have his educators gain a better understanding of his background. Such assignments, accompanied by basic technical teaching (i.e. the colour wheel) will lend to the growth of the student’s practice without alienating him.