You Gotta See this!!
As a bit of professional development and personal enjoyment for the 21st Century and Academic ICT team today, I arranged for us to have our team meeting at Mary Ward CSS and to then tour their Art, Media, Tech Show titled, Conundrum. I had the inside track on the show since I taught at Mary Ward for 12 years before going into administration and had the honour of working with John Notten on course development and even co taught a course called, “Human Connections” that took an interdisciplinary look at human history, literature and art from the Renaissance to modern times. What did I know going into the show? I knew that my team, who are amazing teachers in their own rights, were going to be blown away by what they saw in the show.
The incredibly special place that is Mary Ward did not disappoint as the group was blown away by the talent and teaching that was on display. Just a few images for your enjoyment.
Even the most discerning art critic would be able to look at the work of these young artists and be impressed but I know what impressed my team the most was the narrated tour that we got from John himself. Hearing his rationale, process and pedagogy was what left the team shaking their heads saying things like, “Is this guy for real?” or “What a gift to education!” or “My mind was just blown”. I am pretty used to John because of our history but I am still incredibly impressed by what he can bring out of kids and what he can construct for them to work towards.
One of my favourite parts of these art shows is that there are always students around, often working security or running tours. They seem to end up hanging around where their work is, obviously looking to find out what people say about their work, but I am more interested to hear what they say about their work. They are always so proud of what they have done and that it is part of such a prestigious show. I think this is why John goes to such an extreme with his student team of organizers in putting the show on. He owes to these students that put so much of themselves into their work, but also because he knows that this will inspire them to put so much in. This goes back to what we have talked about Real World Problem Solving: if the students know that their work is simply for the teacher to look at, grade and then discard, then they will look to make it good enough, but if they know it will find its way outside of the school walls, then they want it to be good! John has created an event that causes nearly half of the school to bring their A game for an entire year and then proudly stand back and watch as people’s minds are blown by what they see.
Just a point of clarification for those wondering: Mary Ward CSS is NOT and art school or a magnet school for students with extraordinary abilities or aptitudes. It is a community school that takes all types of kids and allows them to discover their passions and abilities in a Self Directed Learning Environment. I will at some point talk more about this place but you should really take an interest because any place that can produce teachers and students like this, is worth a deeper look.