I have contributed a video to the Process Arts website to accompany the ceramic spheres I built for Paul Lindley’s cube and sphere collection. http://process.arts.ac.uk/content/press-moulded-ceramic-sphere-part-1 Process Arts website inventor and colleague Chris Follows showed the video recently at the Cltad conference “Challenging the Curriculum” in Berlin, April 2010.
The PG Cert course has increased my understanding of pedagogy and my action research project, and it has made a significant contribution to the Foundation students’ understanding of ceramics and glazing in particular. (Helal, M. 2010) It has also been interesting to contribute to peer action research and discuss results with colleagues. The presentations of our action research proposal questions during our tutor group meetings helped me think deeply about what a colleague is doing and how practical that might be for their particular setting, and it encouraged all of us to give and receive constructive feedback. It highlighted the similarities between our researches, as the majority of proposals were all looking at ways to encourage more dialogue between students. Paolo Friere referred to this type of dialogic process that is at the heart of teaching. (Friere, P. 1994)
I feel that I have more confidence to encourage cross-curricular use of clay and I have seen an increase in the number of students from other departments using clay. Undertaking the PG Cert and meeting with colleagues in different disciplines has broadened my outlook, and as a direct result of my support and expertise helped students realise the potential for wider use of materials, and for integrating the use of clay. The final show has two multimedia pieces, including animation projected onto ceramic, and jewellery using combinations of metal, ceramic, glass, and found objects. It also includes figurative sculpture in a piece about anorexic pornography as a direct response to my support to non- ceramic students.
I thought that before I started the PG Cert, my twenty years of teaching experience must count for something, but as Richardson points out, “There is, in fact, little evidence that teachers’ conceptions of teaching really do develop with increasing teaching experience.” (Norton, Richardson, Hartley, Newstead, & Mayes, 2005) I found myself asking colleagues whether they have done PG Cert because it immediately means that they know certain pedagogical theories and have the language to discuss various learning and teaching theories.
Richardson (2005) explains, “teachers who hold a student-centred and learning-orientated conception of teaching are more likely to adopt a student- focused approach to teaching. So, if institutions of higher education want their teachers to adopt a more student-focused approach to teaching, they need to ensure that their teachers hold a commensurate conception of teaching – and a brief training course will not be sufficient to achieve this.”
It is inspiring to have a common ground of pedagogical knowledge so that one can discuss one’s own understanding of the theory with colleagues who might have different interpretations. I wanted to find people to discuss the theories in the context of ceramics. Discussions with my own work colleagues currently doing PG Cert and those colleagues who are doing it this coming year have been mostly enjoyable and definitely stimulating. Finding my community of practice amongst the university is discussed more thoroughly below. A weakness I am aware of, is that I prefer the intuitive and practical side of teaching rather than the documenting and theorising of the processes.