My name is Loui Hall and I am a pre-service Visual Arts teacher from Sydney. I have a life-long love of the Creative Arts and this has kindled my devotion to share this enjoyment and motivation with others as an educator.
I began my studies in a Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication, I focused predominantly on the development of skills and techniques within graphic design and illustration, understanding the ideology behind image analysis and the perception of communication; aspects which influenced my own artistic practice. I then moved to a Bachelor of Teaching/ Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Visual Arts with a minor in English. I am highly enthusiastic about storytelling and I believe the two fields work synonymously as an expressive tool to reflect cultural and historical zeitgeists. In my professional experience my passion for art and teaching has grown, giving me the opportunity to develop through diverse experiences; from working as a host at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Circular Quay, to roles in Visual Arts and English education at schools in Ashfield, Norfolk Island and in the New England region.
In my own personal artmaking practice I enjoy completing projects in a range of mediums such as pen and ink, oil painting, ceramics and printmaking exploring all things Australiana and kitsch.
As a Visual Arts educator, I have often heard students say “I can’t draw”; believing this statement to pardon them from meeting and exceeding their learning potential and limiting their abilities in the entirety of the creative arts field. My personal learning philosophy is grounded in a rejection of this statement. As an educator I want to dispel the misconception that art is an exclusive specialised field only for the highly talented or ‘naturally’ gifted. I truly believe that everyone has some artistic and creative ability, and through practice, development, exploration, reflection and active engagement in visual culture, students can build upon this ability, advancing their technical skills and critical thinking.
I believe that these attributes of a successful learning experience for all students in visual arts is achieved through mentoring their abilities in craft and process. My teaching pedagogy is guided by Gardeners theory of Multiple Intelligences, which recognises the student as an individual, with a unique profile of abilities and interests. It is my responsibility as a teacher to provide a range of learning experiences, inclusive of all students’ diverse educational needs, guiding their thinking and learning and the identification and pursuit of their motivations as artists. I believe an important source of inspiration is the student’s own lived experience. Through my teaching practice I enjoy helping students to find learning relatable and relevant. This is achieved by enabling students to link new content and skills to their prior knowledge and beliefs, crossing all cultural and historical boundaries and approaching art as a form in which to explore interests, issues, and themes that relate to them and their world.
In my visual arts classroom I strive to create an inclusive, hands-on, studio-based culture that is supported by a strong theoretical component. My goal as an artist educator is to foster a creative environment where my students can gain the necessary professional skills and practice to grow within and beyond the classroom. This growth is supported through the incorporation of diverse learning opportunities and teaching strategies that will also prepare students for the evolving nature of the creative arts by engaging with the social, technological and ecological context of the artmaking practice and critical thinking. Growth and learning in my classroom is based on a constructivist pedagogy that places emphasis on structured skill building and the development of personal autonomy, as student’s build their own understanding through first- hand experiences and reflecting on those experiences in light of what they already know and believe to, emphasising social and personal awareness as the fundamentals of my curriculum.
I believe that as human beings we are constantly learning and developing, and that my personal and profession growth should be continuous engaging and flexible, allowing for my educational philosophy to evolve just as I would my knowledge, skills and understanding.
Please enjoy this great Tedx Talk by Cindy Foley ‘Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist?’ encouraging teachers to consider the nature of art education within and beyond the classroom.
In a professional experience, I had two classes of year 8 art students for which I was required to devise a lesson plan, achieving the same learning outcomes for both classes. Students in Year 8 were streamed into classes corresponding with the results observed through the testing of intelligences in Maths and English. Firstly, I employed the devised lesson plan with the Year 8 ‘A’ class; considered to be the highest ability group. The lesson plan was highly successful, overall students were very engaged with the content and demonstrating behaviours suggesting that most students were learning and processing information rapidly. The following day I had the Year 8 ‘L’ class; students considered to have demonstrated the lowest ability in the year group. At the time I felt strongly about delivering the same content and strategies to the ‘8L’ class as I had previously with the ‘8A’ class. I assumed that, due to the previous success of the lesson plan, altering classroom strategies and content in any way would devalue the opportunity for learning for those students. In this situation I was clearly focused on providing equality and not equity. Evidently, the identical lesson plan I delivered did not effectively differentiate the curriculum for students with diverse learning needs and was therefore unsuccessful.
During this experience, I considered Robert Sternbergs argument while critically reflecting on the differentiation of learners through generalised streaming, in which he suggests that concept of general mental ability does not take into account the idea that intelligence is multifaceted and influenced by context. I thought that by delivering the same lesson plan, I was supporting this argument, as the ‘general mental ability’ of students was determined by two subjects, which did not take into consideration student’s motivations, interests or abilities outside of these two limited facets. While I believe the limitations of streaming to be apparent, the critical and historical investigation of art I delivered did not take into perspective with the other angle of Sternbergs triarchic model of successful intelligence, which defines intelligence in terms of successful behaviour encompassing analytic, creative and practical aspects Duchesne & McMaugh, (2015).
In reflection, the evidence obtained through this experience would suggest I should in future apply strategy’s and theory such as Gardeners Multiple Intelligences. Gardeners’ theory indicates an application to differentiation of the curriculum for students, reaffirming the concept that every student is an individual and posses different modes of intelligence and thus learning Duchesne & McMaugh, 2015). The application of Gardeners theory informs the development of classroom content and strategies suggesting that teachers extend the range of which students can develop and display their skills and knowledge. In future, the application of differentiated curriculum, strategies and pedagogy will allow me to better reflect standard 1.2 and 1.5 of the Australian Professional Standard for Teachers which states that a teacher must understand how students learn and differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
In my own experience, the most successful lesson plans I have delivered to students incorporated the use of carefully considered ICT. This notion reflects standard 2.6 Australian Professional Standard for Teachers, regarding Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and encouraging the implementation of teaching strategies for using ICT to expand curriculum learning opportunities for students. I believe that using programs and technology which are relevant, relatable, interesting and useful to students fosters engaged learning through building upon students abilities and prior experiences. In a prior experience, for example, I created an ICT visual arts learning activity in which students were required to exhibit and annotate images. Initially I considered using a blogging website such as WordPress. However, I took into consideration student’s social media habits and prior experiences, determining programs such as Instagram and Snapchat to be more popular within the student’s age group. Incorporating this knowledge allowed me to utilise ICT in devising a more stimulating learning opportunity, reflecting standard 3.2 of the Australian Professional Standard for Teachers which recommends teachers plan lesson sequences using knowledge of student learning, content and effective teaching strategies. As Churchill has highlighted in chapter 10 of ‘Teaching: Making a Difference’, sometimes the motivation of children and young people can be increased by using ICT’s. Peter Twining (2002) supports this concept as he claims that education can be transformed by using ICTs (specifically computers).
However, as teachers we must also consider the implications of ICT in the classroom, including:
Supporting the safe and responsible use of ICT.
Determining the effectiveness of ICT in building on learning experiences and behaviour, for example, not every learning activity will benefit from the incorporation of ICT.
Consider the social implication of student having constant access to a digital device (Churchill 2016).
Barriers to the uptake of ICTs in schools (Churchill 2016)
A short video of teachers discussing the incorporation of social media in their classroom. ‘Instagram In The Classroom’ by Clay Reisler (2016)
The primary role of the assessment/reporting process is to improve student learning and inform teaching ( Churchill, 2016). Therefore, the role of assessment can be defined as both ‘of’ learning and ‘for’ learning, becoming and integral part of the learning process. In Chapter 12 of Teaching: Making A Difference, Churchill provides two overarching theoretical frameworks for conceptualising learning achievement. The first of these frameworks include strategies that measure depth or complexity of learning at a given point. Blooms taxonomy, for example, provides a representation of depth of learning from the most basic knowledge to the deeper and more complex categories of learning outcomes (Bloom, 1956). Blooms Taxonomy accounts for behaviour, actions, knowledge and learning opportunities within assessment. The second framework includes strategies that measure development over time against the student’s previous work and/or some external representation of anticipated progress(Churchill, 2016) . This assessment of development is based in the structure of specific curriculum outcomes and standards frameworks, wherby teachers can identify and map student learning in relation to course requirements (Churchill, 2016). It is my belief that these two frameworks should be used synonymously to assess learning and shape strategy, pedagogy, process and feedback and in my own experience, I have tried to employ a range of approaches for assessment to incorperate both frameworks. This works towards demonstrating standard 5.1 of the Australian Professional Standard for Teachers, which recommends an understanding of assessment strategies, educators must utilise a range approaches to assess student learning such as informal and formal, diagnostic, formative and summative, strategies which reflect the implementation of Churchills theoretical framework for assessment.
AITSL. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards
Bloom, BS, Englehart, MB, Furst, EJ, Hill, WH & Krathwohl, DR (eds.) 1956, Taxonomy of educational objectives. The classification of educational goals. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain, McKay, New York.
Churchill, R. (2016). Teaching: Making A Difference (3rd ed.). Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
As Churchill discusses in Chapter 3 of Teaching: Making A Difference, there are many different ways to perceive and assess learning. My own understanding of learning corresponds with Churchill’s ideology that learning is a life long part of the human condition, starting from early childhood, long before students enter a school or any other institution of instruction. Therefore, as teachers we should not view students minds as blank slates, or learning as a simple product or outcome. Instead, we must recognise students prior experiences and development, focusing on the process of learning as changes in the way people ‘understand’, ‘experience’ or ‘conceptualise’ the world around them (Churchill, 2016). Claxton’s (1999) view is that learning is multifarious, which suggests that to achieve learning for all students, as educators we must provide opportunities for students to engage in complex interactions with others and various environmental stimuli and activities. Reflecting Standard 3.3 and 3.6 of the Australian Professional Standard for Teachers, suggesting educators demonstrate a broad knowledge of teaching strategies implementing a range of processes to evaluate teaching programs and improve student learning. Churchill offers a framework conceptualising Claxton’s ideology of multifarious learning, recognising:
behaviourist orientations to learning
cognitive orientations to learning
humanistic orientations to learning
social/situational orientations to learning
constructivist orientations to learning.
This framework provides theoretical perspectives that can be utilised to construct opportunities for students learning process in the future.
AITSL. (2017). Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.aitsl.edu.au/teach/standards
Churchill, R. (2016). Teaching: Making A Difference (3rd ed.). Milton, Qld: John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd.
Claxton, G. (1999). Wise Up: The Challenge of Lifelong Learning. Bloomsbury USA,
“The narrative of the American musical critiques the very capitalism that it relies on to make a profit to survive. Therefore, this is a hypocritical industry that smugly challenges the power that comes with success, while enjoying the financial rewards and fame associated with Broadway”
Broadway is a cut-throat capitalist enterprise. The art form of the Broadway musical is driven by commercial success. If you don’t bring in the money, you disappear. The majority of productions flop, with only a limited number of productions enjoying a ‘success’ and the profits that come with this notion. According to Michael Paulson in his New York Times article ‘New Yorkers Making Up Bigger Portion of Broadway Audience’, over the last 12 months, 81 productions played at some point during the season with half of all the box-office revenue going to just 10 of those shows.
Musicals evolved to capture every idiom of American expression in style, spirit and format, moving away from the tedious European institution of the ‘theatre’. American Musicals provided a form of escapism and entertainment for a wider demographic. However, the objective of the American musical has changed, revealing a hypocritical industry. Tickets for the production of The Book of Mormon started at $99.00USD for seats in the mezzanine, at the show I attended the house was full, in fact, the same could be said for every ‘successful’ Broadway show I saw, regardless of time or day every seat was sold. At this price, Broadway excludes an audience it once relied on for success. According to Paulson through audience demographics report, which is based on surveys distributed in theaters: The Broadway audience remains predominantly white (77 percent) and female (66 percent), as well as affluent (average annual household income of $194,940) and educated (80 percent of those over 25 were college graduates and 39 percent had a graduate degree).
It is interesting that Musicals such as The Book of Mormon explicitly critique the format of the musical and the capitalism it relies on. If you take away the libretto and evaluate The Book of Mormon from the perspective of its production, from lighting and staging to characterisation and song, it has all the typical elements of a traditional Broadway Musical. However, beneath the dazzle of the production, the musical appears to be milking for laughs the Mormon beliefs, however, it is essentially laying jabs into the stigma of Broadway. Through their song “Hasa Diga Eebowai” they satirise “Hakuna Matata” from The Lion King and state supposedly “Africa is nothing like the Lion King”. Elder Price’s proud announcement of blind faith in “I believe” is a direct homage to “I Have Confidence” from The Sound Of Music. In ridiculing these classic American musicals they critique dumbing down of entertainment, the capitalist values of Broadway and its power and influence over the American cultural psyche. These are hypocritical values though, as just like every other powerhouse Musical on Broadway the curtains go up and audiences eyes turn to the stage of a sellout show.“South Park’s” Matt Stone and Trey Parker are selling a brand name that existed even before Broadway, critiquing the values which similarly supports them. As I sat in my seat and laughed and relished in the entertainment I forgot about the tickets, I forgot that Broadway was a business and I allowed myself to be taken on this journey.
Today in our Journey to Brooklyn we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. I could sense the historic atmosphere of the bridge, and I trailed idly away from the group, indulging in quiet reflection as I stood to look out over the East River. Our guide had pointed out the original location of the Brooklyn Ferry where Walt Whitman would have crossed to the island of Manhattan. In his poetry of the city, Whitman constantly makes references to the waterways and as I took in the layout of the area I imagined what it would have looked like, bustling with tall masts and steamships:
“Because I see that word nested in nests of water-bays, superb, with tall and wonderful
Rich, hemm’d thick all around with sailships and steamships—an island sixteen miles
Numberless crowded streets—high growths of iron, slender, strong, light, splendidly
uprising toward clear skies;
Tide swift and ample, well-loved by me, toward sundown”
This section from Whitman’s 1900 poem Manahatta illustrates this connection to the waterways, describing the East River as the centre of maritime activities in the city. Today, however, it is no longer the bustling port and the murky grey-green estuary flows unadorned. Flanked on either side lie decrepit warehouses and structures which were once necessary for the burgeoning sea trade. Now, the ‘high growths of iron…uprising toward clear skies’ push closer to the edge of the River, skyscrapers clambering for space, building up the edges so much that the river no longer carves its natural course. I think Whitman would have been unsettled by this modern vista, he wrote so passionate and excitedly about the natural elements of New York City, when he addresses the construction of the city the “Numberless crowded streets” his tone feels darkened as he tries to turn manmade structures into a living organism describing them as “growths of iron” appears almost grotesque.
As I touched upon in my first blog post, I feel a sense of disconnection in cities and often seek out the natural world to stir my creativity. However, I was inspired by Whitman’s ability to celebrate the presence of nature in every creation and in homage to this sentiment I have written about my own experiences of the city and in particular central park;
The sunlight moves quickly across manicured scrubland- sprouting upwards between pillars of human co-existence, Splashing over stones worn smooth- touched by a thousand hands and scraped by a thousand boots, It trickles down over sniffling faces who take the brisk scenic route between air-conditioned spaces, It illuminates the grey and brown overdose of the city, leafless lifeless trees and scavengers scurrying with their loots. The fatigued light goes out and from the sky falls a delicate crystal – rapidly blanketing everything in sight. From a fissure in the clouds, the sun bursts out in a final display of blinding glory, dancing across the snow, The park standing in dazzling beauty as the light twinkles across the covering like glittering stars.
The American dream is an obscure and elusive guideline, shepherding those who pursue this dream towards the promise of fulfilment. The concept of the American dream is interesting as it is never completely explicit in its goals, it can’t be contained, changing from generation to generation and from person to person. It suggests the dream is achieved when an individual secures a better, richer and happier life. What changes, however, is an individuals measurement of what “better” is and how it can be gained. The concept of the American dream and its different meanings are addressed in the musical ‘A Bronx Tale’ and the play Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller.
Striving for the American dream is a central theme in A Bronx Tale, however, it is the diversity of dreams between individual which drives the narrative, creating dramatic tension between the characters. In the centre of this conflict is Calogero, who is pushed and pulled between two father figures with different values. For his father Lorenzo, the core essence of his American dream consists of making sure the next generation had a better life than himself. He strives to achieve this dream through persistence, hard work, determination and solidarity. Sonny, on the other hand, a local mafia boss, strives for loyalty and wealth, achieved quickly through corrupt deeds believing that “fear keeps them loyal”. This division of attitude similarly drives the narrative in Death of a Salesman, with the characters suggesting the American dream is an individuals pursuit- much like A Bronx Tale. The play’s protagonist Willy Loman is concerned with fame and popularity, believing that charisma and not hard work will bring him closer to achieving this dream. His brother Ben strives for the classic ‘rags to riches’ dream stating “William, when I walked into the jungle, I was seventeen. When I walked out I was twenty-one. And, by God, I was rich!”. Ben’s behaviour with Biff suggests he is willing to put aside his morals to achieve his dreams, much like Sonny. Biff exists, like Cologero, on the precipice of a dream, caught between the resolution of his father, capitalist pursuits and his developing love of nature. At the end of the play, seeing the fruitless efforts of his father Biff turns away from his father’s values and redefines his own dreams. Willy’s dream proved futile, selling nameless and unidentified products. Through these symbolically undefined products, the audience is able to project their own assumptions, turning the mirror onto the audience and prompting us to question the orientation of our dreams. Is our own American dream as hopeless as Willy Lomans’?
Throughout A Bronx Tale and Death of a Salesman the struggle of each character’s pursuit of the ‘American Dream,’ is one of the central themes of the story. Both suggest that the only common goal is the fulfilment of a greater goal. Through the freedom of aspiration comes a moral fork in the road and it is up to the individual to choose their direction.
In the 1920’s and 30’s, American psyche and society unified in its ideological projection of a social vision; the American dream, which often suggests that wellbeing and worth are proportionally attached to the value of personal commodities. In this transitional period, the values of society and the trajectory of the American dream warped and changed. In exploring the MET today, we looked at Thomas Hart Benton’s 10 panelled murals ‘America Today’, painted in 1930–31 which theatrically presents this momentous progression in American History. This artwork channelled the complexities of the era in a spontaneous flow, which particularly resonated with my understanding of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, which, despite its portrayal of the dazzling New York party scene, presents the allure and contradiction of the American Dream and the journey from prosperity to loss.
Benton created ‘America Today’ in a dynamic, restlessly figurative style, depicting advancements in technology, architecture and mechanical strength as well as a wild display of risqué social exploits; from prohibition to jazz, capturing the ethos of a transitional era. Heroic depictions of labourers contrast with raunchy scenes of urban life, with the colours and shapes of these exaggerated portrayals guiding these transitions. In the urban scenes, the colours are bright and sporadic, a concoction of diverse energies. The mural begins to transition into hazy pink and purple landscapes to deeper smoky greys and rusty browns of the steel plant and coal mine. The figures become more dynamic, the distinctly fluid shapes of urban life turn stiffly rectilinear in the characterisation of labourers and strength in Industry, the mural then turns angular and geometric in its representation of architecture and technology. America today is a wide-angle look at 1920s America, from opulence to desperate grasping hands; tying together optimism and despondency contributing to the prosperity of the nation to the aspirational pursuit of progress.
In Benton’s mural, we can gain a sense cultural transition; where the America Jazz age of the 1920’s gave way to the Depression. The glitzy characters yielded to a stronger dustier, grittier nation hungering for truth and opportunity. We have a sense of this transition in The Great Gatsby, where Fitzgerald contrasts West Egg and New York City with the Valley of Ashes situated on along the road between these two grande locations. The valley of Ashes is a dumping ground, the repercussion of unsustainable industry. The valley represents the failure of a self-serving American dream and the moral and social decay of the delusional society.
Both Benton’s ‘America Today’ and Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ give an extraordinary rendering of the American vernacular, capturing the aspirational, even, delusional nature of the American psyche during this time. The works of Benton and Fitzgerald continue to cross expanses of time and cultural difference, begging their audience to question the meaning of prosperity and the trajectory of our aspirations.