Today was interesting as I observed an art class. I'm seeing a very different interpersonal style than I often use and observe with my colleagues at home. What I see here is little interpersonal phatic talk nor much by way of introduction or context construction for the lesson. Instructors just enter the room, and start the class. Sometimes they talk a bit to provide some needed information; sometimes pose a question, or indicate a student or group has the floor and they start their presentation or activity (seems to be a very high context culture.) So, with that, the instructor first gave the students some inexpensive manila paper and pencils and started.
She had the students do some "looking" and talking about what they saw out these bay windows in the building where we met...
|Designed by Alvar Aalto|
But rather than focus on technical details of the architecture, she talked about the sense of history and community they represented (and explained why Finland is so keen on building preservation) and what all that means in each person's own life. With that, she then sent the students out to take pictures of buildings and sketch them (using pencils and manila paper--nothing high tech there, except the students' phones which were all cameras, too). The assignment was very open-ended; she just wanted to give the students a bit of a focus and let them do what they thought was most relevant to themselves. I asked her later about evaluation and she said that such assignments, even the course as a whole was pass/fail. I noticed that all the students engaged the task, took pictures, drew sketches and reconvened when she'd asked. Without direction, they easily shared their sketches with each other, even though some were very child-like.
The instructor said that the pictures were important because they documented this moment of existence which is meaningful and when compared to similar pictures from other times, the comparison gave new and increased meaning to both the images and the eras. The approach was very philosophical and thought-provoking. It gave new value to the pictures I've taken on our trips and those I take at home.
Here are a few I took of the buildings nearby as they indicate different eras of the university:
|This is one of the first buildings of the campus some 150 years ago.|
|A change of style marked the first decades of the twentieth century|
|A very relaxing cafe|
|One entrance to the building|
|The furniture you see is 50 years old, still used and in perfect condition (not from Ikea)|
|Beautiful art made of corrosion|
|Colors from bio decomposition...|
|Almost unrecognizable up close...|
|Distance "reduces" pixel size and the image gets clearer.|
The experience was a kind of creepy voyeuristic one, but nevertheless, very interesting!