As an extension of the Pillar designs discussed in my previous blog post, this series of graphics is based off a similar notion. St Luke’s 6 Pillars bring to prominence the social skills and enterprise skills required for a changing world. The 6 elements are divided into two categories ‘social’ and ‘enterprise’ and build up the soft skills that make up a well rounded person. This series of graphics aim to represent visually our 6 pillars for a range of purposes such as for use in learning spaces, presentations/explanations etc.
The design above is a reflection of the St Luke’s 6 Pillars of learning which brings to prominence the social skills and enterprise skills required for a changing world. These pillars underpin everything we do, hence, this typography is a visual representation of what constitutes the core of who we are and what we are striving for within this school. That is, a commitment to developing the whole person informed by these six core areas.
This series of designs were completed in June 2019 in collaboration with Sister Mary and Sister Teresa, two Spanish Sisters who worked at the school for a period of three years. The notion was to create a set of graphics which were clear yet also made reference to the purpose or a characteristic of its specific pillar. This acts in two ways, to keep the pillars in the forefront of our minds, but also to provide a starting point for contemplation. These designs have now been integrated large scale into a central staircase located within the Marketplace (See below: Jarrod Bryant Photography).
Students interact with this location on a daily basis and so, are constantly exposed to the content included on the stairs. The colour scheme has been adopted to align with St Luke’s logo and uniform. The gradation between steps not only adds a sense of flow aesthetically, but indicates all pillars are related and often feed off each other in some sense. On the smaller steps alongside the main pillar area are three smaller steps which include the text of what constitutes that pillar in more detail and what we often refer to as ‘sub-pillars’. The location as well as the scale of this installation acts as a relevant reminder for students within play and larger school gatherings as well as an educational opportunity/ space for teacher use within learning experiences. The typography also emerges within liturgies (see image below), around the school and is soon to be integrated within other locations of the buildings.
Overall, this design series has provided a consistent representational reference point of our pillars for staff, students and guests of the college. An approach that reiterates the fact that these 6 social and enterprise skills build the foundation of St Luke’s as a pre to post learning community.
The notion of questioning inspired the design for this blog post. This image depicts a funnel which includes a range of different-sized question marks filtering into one larger question. The variation of size symbolises the different nature of many questions yet also how a multitude can build an overarching focus.
Questions often define our direction as well as our thinking. Two interpretations of the design can be as follows.
1: Driving Questions
“Driving questions (also called compelling questions) pose simply stated real world dilemmas. They pose predicaments that students find interesting and actually want to answer. The question drives students to discuss, inquire, and investigate the topic. It should push them toward a production or solution.” www.smore.com
A good ‘driving question’ can be deconstructed into a range of smaller questions which often form the ‘Need to Knows’ within Inquiry learning.
2: Critical Thinking Skills
The design similarly highlights the importance of questioning in critical thinking.
This design was inspired by the notion of ‘empathy’ in teaching with a particular focus on the teacher as a communicator.
As teachers empathy is integral to the way we deal with a multitude of situations. This design is based around the delivery of content and learning experiences. The arrow emphasising one of the many anonymous faces in the group highlights how lessons should be driven by asking the question: How would I feel if I were a student in my class?
By putting yourself in a student’s shoes, it not only contributes to your creative thinking as a teacher, but enables you to ensure that the learning experiences are both appropriate and engaging.
Over the last couple of years and more specifically the last two terms I have had the privilege of working collaboratively on a range of design projects with Sister Mary Martinez and Sister Teresa Duch Rhodes. These projects ranged from religious designs, learning space decorations, name plaques and staircase designs.
Our school places a high priority on the appearance of spaces as they appreciate and acknowledge its importance in stimulating creativity.
The inspiration for this blog is my experience working collaboratively on these design projects and what I believe to be essential ingredients in order to ensure a team is able to work successfully together and “the magic happens”
1) Mutual Respect
Understanding that each person brings something unique to the team. A set of skills, viewpoint, or even a reference that we can draw upon. Mutual respect is potentially one of the most important aspects or being able to work together collaboratively and also enjoying yourself throughout the process. Respect directly correlates to many of the other aspects of successful collaboration. It is the ground work that allows for a team to be comfortable with each other and enjoy the process.
2) Define Goals
Defining the goals, purpose and any other considerations/expectations at the start of any project will ensure everyone is on the same page. It is often useful for this to be a reference point to refer back to if there is some discrepancy in ideas or the group needs regrouping.
Communication is an obvious one, but apart from clearly explaining one’s thoughts, an essential component of communication is listening with the intent of understanding. Listening can ensure understanding of a thought process behind a design or reasoning why another alternative could be a more viable option. When communicating, I believe it is also important to be kind.
Time refers to not only time restrictions, but being able to invest the time in working together, interacting and sharing ideas.
5) The Door
The door has been included for a couple of reasons. You need to be open to new ideas and perspectives on things, you have to let people/ideas- often these can come from an unexpected source and lastly, leave any pride or ego at the door, as these will be a detriment to working truly collaboratively.
“Just as you have a familial genealogy, you also have a genealogy of ideas” Austin Kleon
This blog was inspired by the notion of ‘ideas’ and the concept that ideas are generated from a rich tapestry of history and influences. Through this image I have strived to capture an essence of the time & complexity which builds the foundation of any idea.
Below is a breakdown:
Coloured Thread (left)- Coloured thread on the left is symbolic of the influences we encounter in our lifetime. The several colours enter the image from the left, and hence we are unaware of of their length or where they begin to become intertwined. A portion of the grey thread connected to the main cotton reel also goes out, back in the direction of the others indicating that we also influence and connect to somebody else’s reels in a giant network of intertwining threads.
This component of the design highlights that even if we are unaware, we draw inspiration from others and are influenced by the world around us.The fact that some threads fail to reach the main cotton reel signifies that not all influences have an obvious and direct link in the generation of an idea.
Cotton Reel- The main cotton reel (grey thread) symbolises the individual with the idea. Within this we see that different colours have integrated themselves into the main core. This not only makes reference to their influence, but also their ability to lie dormant and hence accentuating the notion of time and evolution.
“d” “e”- These letters represent the beginnings of an idea. They aren’t fixed, yet are beginning to form. They are more fluid and free flowing than the “a” and “s”
Cross stitch backing– the cross stitch backing has a shape that also alludes to something that is incomplete and can be expanded upon. It gives the illusion that it exists within something greater.
Needles and thread (right) This element of the design is used to show the notion of collaboration & connectivity when it comes to an idea. There are often other contributors which also bring something new and unique to an idea.We can’t see the reel that these threads are attached too, but we can only assume they originate from something similar to the main reel in this image.
Grey needle and thread- This once again is symbolic of the main idea generator. Unlike the other needles and thread, we are aware of its origin and there is a sense of lineage.
“The future belongs to the curious.The ones who are not afraid to try it, explore it, poke at it, question it, and turn it inside out.” – Anonymous
This image was inspired by the term curiosity and its fundamental importance in how we learn, grow and improve.
Matchstick/ Spark- The term ‘spark’ is synonymous with curiosity. Sparking ones interest not only kick starts a process for inquiry, but is almost like lighting a fire. It ignites passion and becomes all consuming. Learning no longer feels like a chore and one is driven by motivation.
Magnifying glass- Like a creative mindset, someone with a curious mind has a unique way of looking at things, an open mindedness and inquisitive nature. The magnifying glass is symbolic of looking deeper and exploring.
ASK- Curiosity is about asking questions. A curious person wants to know the reasons behind things. The process of asking questions is key to discovery and it propels one forward. Young children are often considered extremely curious due to their propensity to consistently ask questions, this is something we should take with us into adulthood.
Arrow out– Curiosity never stops. One thing often leads to another, connections are made, new sparks occur and people enter a continuous journey of discovery. Moving forward in this manner is the reason for many of the innovations and advances we have today.
Arrow in. This arrow symbolises the process of reflection and its fundamental importance within the process of curiosity. Looking inward on findings is just as important as looking outward. This processing time supports growth and understanding, it helps make knowledge useful and important & could also trigger curiosity and questions in another area.
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
For my next series of blogs, I am going to design an image which encapsulates a particular topic or concept. This image will be accompanied with a short explanation of the reasoning behind it.
This image was inspired by the content of a Staff Meeting where the distinction between “Creativity” and “Innovation” was the topic.
Innovation has its roots in not only “creativity” and “imagination” but in a specific idea or invention. This is reflected by the light bulb in amongst the words within the roots. This “recipe” or foundations are necessary in order for an innovation to develop.
The dollar sign within the roots exemplify money is required for innovation.
The measuring points highlight that unlike creativity and imagination which are somewhat subjective and filled with possibility, Innovation is completely measurable.
The horizontal line across the surface of the text is indicative of of the status quo. Innovation breaks through this and introduces something new that goes beyond the expected
The tree shows that an innovation too, is capable of continual growth and change.
For something to be ‘innovative’ it needs to be widespread. The leaves of the tree which reflect the globe highlights this notion.
The first “I” which attempts to break past the line yet stops, is used to point out that innovation is often a difficult venture and may be accompanied with many attempts. For someone to create something truly innovative, may only happen once.
Overall, innovation introduces something new, being the tree. Beneath the line is where the majority of the design lies highlights that underneath the surface, there is a network of components that need to align in order for innovation to occur.
In order to promote choice, I recently presented the Activities Club senior students with the task of generating “Activity Proposals”. The purpose of these proposals was not only to promote student voice and indicate areas of interest, but also to develop their ability to persuade and convince an audience.
Often within Activities Club, I measure the success of our learning focused activities through student engagement. Maintaining student motivation is critical. The ability to excite and spark interest is essential for success, and requires a fair amount of planning and consideration. In saying this, flexibility also exists in a way that is not usually possible within the traditional constraints of curriculum and reporting. Hence, Activities Club allows for a truly dynamic and authentic learning experience, which can be driven by students in the true sense of the word.
Consequently, the activities that will be discussed below, were not meticulously planned months in advance with programs stipulating what it should look like. Rather, it has been able to grow organically. The results, I believe, exemplify a genuine learning experience and provide a snapshot of the great work teachers do in the classroom at St Luke’s.
Upon reviewing the proposal submissions, I noted a vast array of ideas. Noteworthy, was the incredible push for a program called “Minecraft.” For those of you who are unaware, Minecraft allows users to dig (mine) and build (craft) using various kinds of 3D blocks within worlds of varying terrains and habitats which can be accessed by multiple users. Minemum.com states “…it might help to think of it less as a game and more as a toy. There aren’t a lot of preset goals or steps to take – what kids do with it is really only limited by their imaginations.”
Yet I was unconvinced. Sure, it promotes creativity through its imaginative component, but what was Activities Club offering that could go beyond what students can access at home?
Within my role, I oversee approximately 3 learning focused activities a day, catering for students from Early Stage 1 to Stage 4. Preparation involves: liaising with other teachers; communicating with assistants; organising materials; ensuring age appropriate content and so on. On Monday the 12th of November, however, I walked into my Activities Club senior group with only one question and no plan of what would come next.
If we use Minecraft in Activities Club….What are we learning?
With this question in mind, we spent the next hour and a half, debating, discussing, presenting and researching the answer to this question.
It ignited passions and forced students to be persuasive in a skill driven argument. When Mr Miller, our college principal, walked past on his way home, he was lured in by excited students eager to provide a summation of our discussions.
Students raised some excellent arguments on both sides, ranging from potential parental concerns and server capability, to using Minecraft as a tool for a pitch or for its link to maths by a focus on ratios, perimeters and area.
By the end of the lesson, the collective had a clear idea that Minecraft was something we were willing to explore in Activities Club. The general consensus indicated that rather individual projects, we would experiment using Minecraft as a tool to create a collaborative piece of work.
The following week our building project commenced. In order to add authenticity to the task, the groups were presented with actual building plans of the modular buildings to work from. Students organically began to create and designate roles.
The following is is the org chart they designed:
Students were measuring, planning, discussing ratios and problem solving. Simultaneous access into the world allowed for teams to work alongside each other. When the supervisor noticed a team lacking or an obvious mistake those teams were addressed. I would redirect questions away from myself and to the relevant personnel.
Watching this project develop before my eyes has been rewarding and I see the authentic underpinnings of our 6 pillars. It is not perfect, but learning and creating isn’t a perfect process. What I have seen, is a task that is both engaging and student driven. I anticipate not only the final product, but what the rest of the process will reveal.
It’s 2010, students and parents are attending an information evening to select elective subjects for years 9 and 10. Out of a vast array of choices, they are limited to just two. A daunting task for any 13 year old.
The school hall is filled with a multitude of signs and stations with the various teachers representing their subject, attempting to sway numbers in their favour. A family slows down as they approach the Visual Arts stand where I am stationed. I recognise the student as one of the most enthusiastic members of my Year 8 class. But as the family approach, there is a certain hesitation in their step. It is at that point I overhear the mother say “But you’re not going to become an artist”. A phrase I would hear for years to come in similar situations.
As a first year teacher, this was my first encounter as a soldier for the Visual Arts and all ‘practical’ subjects for that matter. A common misconception among some, is that one does art with the intention of becoming an artist. An idea that stems from the focus on a finished product rather than the value of process and developing a particular skill set.
In my last blog, we looked at how the roots of creative thinking are embedded in our creative confidence and how the scars many of us carry, often inhibit us in fully embracing and nurturing our potential.
This blog touches on the idea that creativity is about the process rather than the product. It’s about exercising that part of your brain and training yourself in order to problem solve and be open to new ideas.
In his book The Art of Creative Thinking, Rod Judkins says “The creative are creative when filing documents, cooking, arranging timetables or doing housework”. It is something that can exist in everything we do. However, it needs to be developed and practised.
The parent who spoke to her son during that elective information evening was true in one sense. There are only a few that will be able to monetise their craft within the creative industries. To survive solely on creative endeavours or to become a well known artist, musician, or poet is extremely difficult and reserved for a select few. But if you eliminate the ideas of doing art just to become an artist and rather see it as an investment in a valuable skill set, then its true value can be fully realised.
So my response when I was confronted with that statement “you’re not going to become an artist”? Was to answer with a question.
What skills are important in the workplace?
Undoubtedly I would get any mixture of the following responses everytime I would ask.
Adhering to deadlines
The ability to back yourself and justify ideas
Effective decision making
These skills are transferable and universal.
Products are a nice culmination, but it is in the process where we see the development of skills, the exercising of creativity and preparation for life after schooling.