Arts based research employs the principles and procedures of the arts to the act of researching information. It is thought by doing so that the information found when conducting this arts-based research will have a longer lasting impression on the researcher as they are more proactive in their learning journey. Arts based research can be conducted through any form of art whether this be; written (essay, novel, poem, song, drama), visual (drawing, painting, sculpture), expressive/performative (dance, drama, song, music, theatre), audio-visual or multi-media. The difference between simply engaging in the arts and engaging in arts based research is that, the first is solely for enjoyment or passion and whilst the later also supports those things its main purpose is ‘engaging in art making as a way of knowing’. The lectures for this module as well as those for a previous module entitled ‘Integrated Arts’ provide an excellent example of arts-based research. This can be evidenced throughout the blogs for both these modules, as most of our learning was conducted firstly in practical activities which were later backed up with theoretical knowledge. I am grateful for our lecturers having the insight to take this approach to our teaching, as it has made the course content memorable and enjoyable.
This method of researching is believed to be so valuable that there is an entire community dedicated to expanding and sharing the scientific data which backs up the effectiveness of this approach. Patricia leavy states that whilst in attendance of a seminar entitled ‘The neuroscience of art: What are the sources of creativity and innovation?’ she became enlightened in regards to the overwhelming size of this community, comprised of both artists and neuroscientists. She states that this seminar’s main point of discussion was the effect that engaging in the arts had upon the brain, specifically the areas which controlled engagement and memory recall.
During today’s input we discussed different methods of visual meaning making, specifically visual representation. A brief definition of visual representation is ‘a mode of communication based on holistic and immediate visuals rather than linear and sequential verbalization’ (igi-global.com, 2021). The concept of this is centred around the idea that visual imagery, such as drawings and paintings hold equal capacity for information and academic value as written text. In today’s lecture we discussed the idea of recording one’s interpretations of a topic through visual representation. During this discussion, some members of the class expressed thoughts regarding their drawing skills and worries that lacking confidence in this area would render them unable to successfully engage with visual representation. These worries were quickly put to rest when our lecturer told us that the process of visual representation does not require advanced artistic skills, the drawings or paintings produced do not need to be extremely legible, however they must be sensical to the individual and to others who view them. Essentially, the value of visual representation does not lie in the artistic quality of the work, but in the meaning making process it puts the individual through.
We also discussed the idea of responding to a piece of written text by visually relaying the key points of it. Our lecturer told us that this exercise can enable us to absorb our learning with more potency and encouraged us to empower children to engage in visual representation. Our lecturer then gave us a selection of very text heavy academic pieces and tasked us with selecting and reading one of these. Once we had done this, we were asked to formulate a visual response to the text or produce a visual representation of the key points within it.
During today’s lecture we watched a short clip where a group of non-English speaking students learned about a topic and created a visual representation of their findings. Upon watching this clip, our class and lecturer noted that even although this language was foreign to us, we were still able to make sense of the visual representation that they produced and could identify the topic of work they were learning about. We also noted that the drawing shown were not impeccably detailed, yet the group of individuals were able to clearly communicate the desired information, which further proved to me that you don’t need to be an artist to successfully engage in visual representation. This clip made me consider how visual representation could be used in schools to empower children who perhaps struggle with conventional writing due to factors such as Additional Support Needs (ASN’s) or having English as a secondary language. If not given the appropriate support, factors such as these may cause a barrier to children’s linguistics and hinder their ability to express themselves and or record information through written or verbal language. Visual representation could provide an almost universally comprehensible element to children’s communication, one which would enable their opinions to be taken into consideration, valued and respected, when they may not even have been able to contribute previously.
In conducting additional research about this topic after today’s lecture, I came across an example of individuals thinking and creating visually in relation to the written word which really piqued my interest. ‘Flatland’ was a completely immersible theatrical experience which took place in 2015 and 2018. This artistic experience was based on E.A. Abbotts 1884 Novel ‘Flatland: A Romance of many Dimensions’ which tells the story of a two-dimensional world and follows the life of peculiar geometric shaped characters who live there. In this novel social classes are distinguished by using the ‘Art of Hearing’ and the ‘Art of Feeling’, and it entertains theories of spaces multi-dimensional nature. What I found very interesting was that the immersible experience went a step further than visual representation of this novel, by creating a multi-sensory representation of this novel which was accessible to Visually impaired individuals. This was done through a triage of visual, auditory and physical stimulus delivered to the individual in a manner which abstractly represented the storyline of the novel it was based upon, looking beyond the written word to create a concrete and interactive experience.
Within small groups we were tasked with selecting either a scene from a movie or a picture, which we felt we held an interest in or even an emotive connection to. We were made aware that the item we selected would be used as stimulus for our composing task later that day.
Within my group we felt very drawn toward silent films as we thought the total absence of sound would give us full freedom of expression when it came to composing audio.
We first considered Charlie Chaplin films as an option, and although we all found the imagery used within these strikingly compelling and expressive, we felt more drawn towards Walt Disney’s early work. Specifically, a short film entitled ‘The Haunted House’, released as part of his early 1920’s ‘Mickey Mouse’ series. We all had a common interest in Disney cartoons through a shared childhood experience of them being integral to our learning and development, leading to us engaging with them for leisure and enjoyment as adults.
Using BBC Soundscapes or the Garage band application, we were able to scout and select sound effects which we felt would create the best auditory experience when played alongside the Mickey Mouse scene. All sounds we had selected were compiled into a custom soundscape where we were then able to place the sounds in specific order and alter aspects of each individual sound (volume speed duration etc) to best enhance the end product.
When using BBC Soundscapes during this task my group noted how much choice we were presented with when searching for a particular sound. For example when we searched for ‘Thunder’ sounds we came across at least 15 variants of thunder all slightly differing from the last. All in all this was an excellent resource which I look forward to implementing in my future practice.
Exploring this modern method of composing was an eye-opening experience for everyone in our group. Although we all had varied experiences of Musical studies within primary and secondary school, none of us had encountered this type of music technology before. Upon first look we expected the composing tools (BBC Soundscapes, Garage band) to be quite complex and overwhelming to the senses, however the layout of the resources was very user friendly and easy to navigate.
As a group we reflected on how children today are more digitally literate, and how the embracing and integrating of technology within their learning experiences may allow them to be more confident when first using tools and resources such as BBC Soundscapes and Garage band. Through this reflection we recognised our responsibility as practitioners to stay up to date with the current tech/devices and ensure we are as knowledgeable about them as the children will be. An example of where I have upheld this responsibility this year, is by joining and becoming familiar with twitter and creating multiple Glow blogs. The reason I choose to engage with these two platforms is that for many parents/guardians they are the primary source of information regarding school events and important news, so I feel this will help me keep up to date with how parent-teacher relationships are currently being facilitated. By having done this I have also met area 2.1.1 of the GTCS’s refreshed standards which details my responsibility as a student to ‘demonstrate knowledge and understanding of; digital technologies to support learning.’ (GTCS, 2021).
Attached below is my groups finished product.
This week we discussed behaviour management during the implementation of arts lessons. Whilst most behavior management strategies are reactive by being put in place after a child has demonstrated certain behaviors, some are preemptive working to prevent these behaviors from occurring. One of these is the implementation of instructions, delivered by the practitioner in a melodic song type voice which the children will become familiar with and do so in unison. This ‘call and response’ concept was first introduced to me during my first-year placement and the effect of it within different aspects of education has been reiterated to me during today’s lesson. Within this lesson the lecturer explained that by connecting something children find demanding and tedious (like tidying or listening) with something fun and enjoyable (like music and singing) children are less likely to exhibit poor behavior in response to these tasks. Common examples of this are ‘1,2,3, eyes on me!’ to gain pupils engagement or singing a ‘tidy up song’ which informs children that it is time to do so. Employing this strategy is not simply a way of ‘planning for good behaviour; teaching the routines and the rules’ (Rodgers, 2007), but also an important step to take when establishing boundaries regarding ‘low level disruptive behaviour’ (gov.uk, 2014).
Integrating Thorndike’s law of effect (Thorndike, 1905) and Skinner’s operant conditioning theories (Skinner, 1938) into practice enables practitioners to use reinforcement as a means of behavior management. This is implemented in the classroom often using reward systems of tokens or points which may add up to more time on the smart board or a class treat at the end of the week. The positive reinforcement in that situation being the reward of the tokens or points as well as the bigger treat. The presence of both, should encourage children to display behaviors they know would grant them access to these. The negative reinforcement in that situation being the sanction of losing tokens or the end of week class treats for poor behavior, being removed if the child takes the opportunity to gain them back by demonstrating improved behavior for the remainder of the week. Knowledge of this sanction alone should actively dissuade children from displaying poor behavior. However, in the instance that it still occurs, the practitioner must follow through on the sanction and children will have their poor behavior negatively reinforced by having their rewards removed so they understand that their actions have consequences.
While I feel the concept of positive reinforcement is valuable to behaviour management, it should only be used in moderation. If rewards become too common children are motivated by them instead of the behaviours associated with them and could become dependent upon them to feel secure in their learning. I would promote Intrinsic motivation (Kohn, 1998) through the learning itself and periodically employ positive reinforcement so that children can develop a genuine interest in their behavior instead of the rewards. I will also ensure that I work to prevent poor behavior by adhering to William Glasser’s choice theory (Glasser, 1965) which suggests that children’s choice to engage with a task is dependent upon how well it meets the five needs of; fun, freedom, power, survival and belonging.
During today’s lecture we were also given the opportunity to experiment with sequence planning, as this was something we had identified as an area for development. Our lecturer had informed us that sequence planning is often used in the arts as it allows for a more cohesive series of lessons which show clear and measurable progression. We had been given an example sequence plan and had then been given a few hours to populate a similar template with a series of lessons. I was inspired by last weeks input and blog to create my sequence plan using ‘Animals in the Rainforest’ as the stimulus. I aimed to create cross curricular links within this short series of lessons and add an element of depth to the children’s learning. I have included my sequence plan at the end of this blog.
In preparation of today’s lecture we were asked to research Soundscapes if we had no prior experience or knowledge of these, and as I did not recognise the term I did not think I had either. However, it was upon researching this topic that I realised I was already aware of the definition of a Soundscape and had in fact experimented with the creation of one in my secondary school Higher Music Class. Although I already had this knowledge, I am grateful for the opportunity to refresh it and maintain my professional learning. In clarification, I understand that soundscapes are a combination of sounds, played in a strategic manner to depict an object, person, or a story amongst other things. The inclusion or imitation of sounds specific to a particular environment can provide an immersive musical experience, one which mentally places the listener into the environment that is being portrayed.
In connection with last weeks theme of ‘evocative objects’, we took another look at the richness of common objects. We done this by selecting a variety of household objects which we thought could be used to make an interesting form of noise. We were then tasked with creating a soundscape with these objects. This innovative approach to musical expression adheres well to the current COVID-19 related lockdown by providing an opportunity to repurpose objects in our immediate environment to engage in musical activity. Creating soundscapes today really demonstrated to me the versatility and adaptability of the musical form, during a time where most of us do not have access to conventional instruments due to lockdown measures. If I were a qualified practitioner during these times, I would definitely be leading children in my class in the creation of soundscapes with everyday items, as it is a valuable group activity which both supports children’s social wellbeing and can be easily engaged with through virtual learning.
The subject our lecturer provided for our soundscape was ‘Animals in the Forest’. My group chose to create a soundscape which would depict a snake moving through the rainforest. We chose to do this because we had coincidentally all selected items which could be used to make rattling noises. I was rather excited about this selection as amongst the items we had gathered were a rainmaker, a tambourine, and an egg shaker which already sounded distinctly snake like.
As a group we were rather apprehensive at the thought of creating music with items that are not usually used to do so, and one member of our group made a particularly interesting observation regarding this. She suggested that this apprehension we were feeling was akin to what children experience when they are experimenting with playing and creating music for the first time, as it is unfamiliar. If anything, this observation made me realise how difficult and daunting musical creation and engagement may seem to children at first and highlighted the importance of approaching my teaching of it with provision of the correct encouragement and support.
My group banded together and created our soundscape in the manner we feel best represented our desired sound of a snake moving through the rainforest. In doing so we went into quite a deep analysis of the characteristics of a snake, by considering how they are represented within things such as children’s literature and associated illustrations. The fact that this activity had encouraged us to consider a topic through the lenses of other curricular areas, shows that it is a valuable teaching tool which enables the formation of cross curricular links. I have included at the end of this blog a recreation of my groups soundscape as we were not able to get a recording during the presentation of it.
In preparation of today’s lecture, we were asked to bring along an object to which we held a particularly fond connection or associated with a positive memory. We were asked to be prepared to give the rest of the class a brief synopsis of this connection or memory, and to talk through the types of feelings evoked when interacting with or thinking about this object. I brought along my daughters’ baby bracelet which has been a family heirloom for a few generations, and tradition for each child it was passed onto to dress their firstborn in it when first leaving the hospital. Thinking about how myself and my child upheld the longevity of this family tradition made me rather emotional. After this lecture I decided to tap into this emotion and expressed it in the form of a digital drawing which I have included at the end of this blog post.
After sharing the stories behind all of our evocative objects we also further explored the role these had in supporting creativity when we were tasked with collectively viewing evocative images and stating three words we would associate with them. The aim of this was to show how seemingly everyday objects can connotate a wide range of emotions for each individual and how engaging in emotionally literate dialogue can promote and support creativity.
Upon researching this topic after our lecture I came across a collection of writings by Sherry Turkle entitled ‘Evocative Objects: Things we Think with’. This collection shows that evocative objects are simply everyday objects which are transformed into ‘emotional and intellectual companions that anchor memory, sustain relationships, and provoke new ideas’. This transformation often results in one becoming attached to an object which was present during a particularly emotional/memorable time in their life. For example, it is common for pieces of childhood memorabilia such as baby blankets or toys, to become evocative objects, as well as items which belonged to friends and relatives who have passed away to become objects of this nature as well.
Commonplace within many forms of expression (painting, drawing, writing, singing, composing, creating, even cooking) is ‘creative block’, an overwhelming absence of inspiration during a “period of time when an artist cannot access their creativity and/or they cannot bring themselves to create a new piece of work” (Baharudin, 2017). Engaging with evocative stimulus (people, places, activities, and objects which arouse emotion) can help to counteract creative block by nurturing the release of emotions and ideas which can be channelled into artistic expression.
Baldwin, P. 2009. School Improvement Through Drama. London: Network Continuum.
BBC News. 2019. Music Education ‘Risks Being Outdated By Technology’. [online] Available at: <https://www.bbc.com/news/education-47414952> [Accessed 5 December 2020].
Beetlestone, F. 1998. Creative Children, Imaginative Teaching. Buckingham. Open University Press.
Bright Young Things Drama. n.d. BENEFITS OF DRAMA – Bright Young Things Drama. [online] Available at: <https://www.bytdrama.com/benefits-of-drama/#:~:text=Drama%20promotes%20communication%20skills,%20teamwork,%20dialogue,%20negotiation,%20socialization.,and%20empathy%20with%20situations%20that%20might%20seem%20distant.> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
Craft, A. 2000. Creativity Across the Primary Curriculum. London. Routledge.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. 2015. The Systems Model Of Creativity. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands.
Cut, M. 2017. Digital Natives And Digital Immigrants — How Are They Different. [online] Medium. Available at: <https://medium.com/digital-reflections/digital-natives-and-digital-immigrants-how-are-they-different-e849b0a8a1d3#:~:text=%20Digital%20natives%20and%20digital%20immigrants%20%E2%80%94%20how,natives%20to%20achieve%20goals%20quickly.%20They…%20More> [Accessed 5 December 2020].
Education Scotland, 2013. Creativity Across Learning 3-18. Edinburgh.
Farmer, D. (2011) Learning through Drama in the Primary Years dramaresource.com
Halkilahti, L. 2018. Creative Pedagogy – Supporting Children’S Creativity Through Drama. [online] Futureacademy.org.uk. Available at: <https://www.futureacademy.org.uk/files/menu_items/other/ejsbs96.pdf> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
Harman, R. 2018. Bilingual Learners And Social Equity. Cham: Springer.
Harrist, A. Morris, A. and Larzelere, R., 2013. Authoritative Parenting. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Hscdance.com. 2018. Stimulus – HSC Dance. [online] Available at: <http://www.hscdance.com/?tag=stimulus> [Accessed 20 December 2020].
Hurley, K. 2015. The Happy Kid Handbook. New York: An Imprint of Penguin Random House.
Hurst, B. and Reding, G. 2009. Professionalism In Teaching. Boston, Mass.: Pearson.
Jackman, S. 2017. How Body Percussion Could Benefit Your School | Beat Goes On. [online] Beat Goes On. Available at: <https://www.beatgoeson.co.uk/how-body-percussion-could-benefit-your-school/#:~:text=How%20body%20percussion%20could%20benefit%20your%20school%201,in%20the%20music%20classroom!%20…%20More%20items…> [Accessed 10 December 2020].
JHSD. 2020. The Benefits Of A Dance Warm-Up. [online] Jadeharrisonschoolofdance.co.uk. Available at: <https://jadeharrisonschoolofdance.co.uk/index.php/about/blog/106-the-benefits-of-a-dance-warm-up#:~:text=Warmups%20are%20important%20because%20they%20prepare%20the%20body,ensure%20you%20have%20a%20productive%20and%20enjoyable%20session.> [Accessed 15 December 2020].
Kassem, N. 2018. What Parts Of The Brain Are Stimulated By Music? |
Livestrong.Com. [online] LIVESTRONG.COM. Available at: <https://www.livestrong.com/article/175434-what-parts-of-the-brain-are-stimulated-by-music/> [Accessed 10 November 2020].
Keating, D. 2011. Nature And Nurture In Early Child Development. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Morrison, N. 2019. How The Arts Are Being Squeezed Out Of Schools. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorrison/2019/04/09/how-the-arts-are-being-squeezed-out-of-schools/> [Accessed 10 January 2021].
Pappas, S. 2012. Young Kids Take Parents’ Word On Prejudice. [online] livescience.com. Available at: <https://www.livescience.com/19187-children-learning-prejudice.html> [Accessed 11 January 2021].
Piaget, J. 1989. The Child’s Conception Of The World. Savage, Md.: Littlefield Adams Quality Paperbacks.
Piaget, J. 2015. Language And Thought Of The Child. London: Routledge.
Science Solutions Recruitment. 2019. STEM Vs STEAM – How Important Are The Arts For Scientific Innovation? – Science Solutions Recruitment. [online] Available at: <https://www.sciencesolutionsrecruitment.com/stem-vs-steam-how-important-are-the-arts-for-scientific-innovation/> [Accessed 10 January 2021].
Scottish Government, 2002. The Curriculum for Excellence. Edinburgh.
Scottish Government, 2004. Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act. Edinburgh.
United Nations, 1989. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Velarde, J. 2019. What Is STEM Education And Why Is It Important? | Stemcadia. [online] STEMcadia. Available at: <https://stemcadia.com/what-is-stem-education-and-why-is-it-important/> [Accessed 10 January 2021].
Vygotsky, L. Rieber, R. and Carton, A., 2016. The Collected Works Of L.S.
Vygotsky. New York, NY: Springer.