Constellation Evaluation of Term 2.Posted: May 12, 2015
Constellation last term was really rewarding; the weekly lectures, the variety of different subjects and lecturers. It gave me a chance to explore the campus and work with a range of different techniques and teaching styles. Some I loved and some I didn’t get on with so well, however overall I really enjoyed the term. This term has been vastly different, without the variety and the weekly lectures I’ve felt a bit cornered into one topic; one that possibly wasn’t right for me. This was partially because I don’t think I began the term on the right track; I didn’t keep up with each lecturer and what their plans were in regards to the term during the introduction presentation and because of this I believe I chose the wrong subject based on the vague recollection of the presentation I had when we were asked to choose. I was initially drawn to John Clarkson’s group by curiosity and the blind hope that I could develop some of my more spiritual and intellectual views on life. However instead I have just thrown myself into a group which is physically and mentally draining. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I didn’t attempt to swap with another student early enough, I should have began the term with a better balance of enthusiasm and focus.
However, despite possibly choosing the wrong topic (After-modernism), I feel as though I have learnt a lot; about the different styles of art and the artists associated with each, how to analyse art in a more in depth way than just acknowledging the aesthetic decisions made by the artist. I also think I have improved as a person quite a lot; I have been reading more academically written texts including Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes, which was recommended to me by Chris Glynn, an illustrator who did a talk in the first term about complexity in drawing, and I feel a lot more open to the philosophical aspects of art, as well as feeling more confident with reading academic texts and more motivated to learn.
In regards to how the After-Modernism class was run, I was impressed with the teaching and the atmosphere in which I was taught; the pacing and timing were good; I didn’t feel too rushed to pick up the information and if I had a question I felt able to raise my hand and ask for the information to be repeated or explained. The classes were well presented, Jonathon Clarkson obviously knows a lot about the subject and was clear in his teaching. As well as this, I didn’t feel pressured into contributing to the class which, while being a good way of making students feel comfortable to sit quietly and take in the information given to them, also proved to be an effective way of excluding the quieter, possibly less knowledgeable in the field of post-modernist art, students and did make it hard to merge with the group (even after quickly drinking an excessive amount of coffee to make it easier to speak up, which only resulted in me babbling about the limited knowledge I’d picked up in class until I got stuck and lost track of what my point was, ending in me making a fool of myself in front of the class and completely avoiding answering questions ever since).
An example of this exclusion in action would be the trip to London; I arrived early to get on the coach and enjoy a day of culture and travel, however as the other students turned up I became more and more aware that it was closed off groups that were surrounding me and not anyone particularly welcoming to anyone outside of their friend group. In the end I couldn’t face spending the whole day hundreds of miles away with a group of people who had no interest in including me at all.
I have spoken to a few others in the class who have felt the same and simply stopped participating in the lessons altogether so as to not feel left out. This could easily be remedied by simply asking more questions to the class generally instead of sticking to the same one or two of the more outspoken students, and refraining from assuming the students’ knowledge; there were a few questions where it was made to sound as though the information was obvious, and it was not immediately obvious to me who Jackson Pollock was, for example, and his secret self portraits and hidden meanings in his paintings.
Another quick thing I would like to mention, hopefully not sounding too negative (and tediously ‘whiney’), is that the essay didn’t seem to be explained at all before the interim tutorial where we were somehow expected to have completed half of it and present it to the lecturer. I think it would have been better if the essay had been referred to during the lectures a little more and explained in more depth earlier on in the term.
I believe Constellation has merged well with the subject and field parts of my course, in that it gave me an insight into working with students from other areas before working more closely during the City project. As well as this, it has kept me motivated and wanting to learn more while the other parts of my course might not have been and I believe the experience in multitasking with more than one project at a time has made me a bit more aware of the struggles in the industry and has prepared me for what is to come in the future of the course and beyond.
It has also been a lot more organised and structured than a lot of the subject classes and I feel as though my time with Constellation has been rich and worthwhile.
Hopefully I haven’t sounded too cynical during this evaluation, I did genuinely have a good time this term and I am rather proud of the essay I have written. Before term two I found it really hard to read through academic texts about art and wouldn’t have considered the idea of learning as much as I have, so in that sense it has been a productive and motivating few months, and I truly believe it has massively enriched my university experience.