Student Feature: Showcasing First Semester Creative Arts Students: Reflections on Material Encounters


The Seneca ECE students in the Fall 2020 semester showed us their passion, their fire, their willingness to question.  Each and every student has a story to tell, ideas to share, and questions to bring to the table; and every single one is worth listening to. 

The students in the first semester Creative Arts course, thinking with the works on Material Encounters (written by Veronica Pacini-KetchabawSylvia Kind and Laurie L. M. Kocher) alongside their professor Louise Jupp, shared with us some of their writing of documentation panels and learning stories about material encounters. We are honoured to share the reflections of their professor, and our mentor, colleague and friend, Louise Jupp.

The pandemic has created many challenges for our students. In Visual Arts: In Relationship with Art, Story and Materials, we are tasked with finding ways to not only bring materials to life for students, but also, to bring children to life for students. With the generosity and expertise of gathered documentation from the educators at NH Lab School and some of my own documentation, I was able to curate video and accompanying images into material encounter folders for students. I invited them to imagine the video as a live moment with a child or group of children, and to use the photos to create a Documentation Story. These stories are a snapshot of learning, a portion of a full Learning Story. They answer the questions, what happened? (in lively, poetic, descriptive language that honours materials as living and capable of relationship) And so what? (in reflective prose that shares the significance of the encounter, human to human and human to material). Later, students will address “now what” a question that invites consideration of where they might go next with the material and the children, what they have learned and what the “bigger picture” might be in terms of learning and education in their final assignment, the Zoom Panel (some of which were shared in an earlier blog).

Much of our work over the last few semesters has been inspired by the work of students who attended this class live during the Ontario Centre of Excellence initiative, a profoundly impactful time of teaching for me personally as I had the privilege of working deeply and reflectively with other faculty, lab school educators and directors and of course dynamic, creative, enthusiastic students who were often still in their seats asking questions an hour after class had ended. Their work was proudly curated and displayed in an exhibit I helped them to organize in the Fall of 2019 in NH Lab School. In the introduction to the exhibit, I shared a reflection. It still rings true today (with a few “virtual learning” edits), even though we cannot meet in person and reminds me that the development of relationship, human to human and human to material is possible in an online environment.

It has been my great pleasure to work and learn alongside all of these unique, creative and thoughtful student educators. They began their journey, “doing”, continued by “encountering” and I think found themselves so immersed in relationships with children and class colleagues that the “teaching” will naturally follow, at a time it is safe to do so. I am so personally touched that these stories are shared with so much love, respect, authenticity and vulnerability.

We learn the most from those we profess to teach.

-Louise Jupp

Below we share with you some of the work from the students in Louise’s Class. We offer them with gratitude for their thinking and insights, and with pride in the incredible thought they put into this work. We start with a few offerings on encounters with clay…

And a few more pieces on encounters with charcoal…

Once again we are left wondering…

How different may these writings read if the focus was on the skills being developed, on the teaching outcomes being met?

What worlds may we open up if we hold space to truly view the Environment (and each material we encounter) as a living organism that we can be in relationship to and relationship with?

We leave you with one final piece that draws insights from encounters with fabrics, clay and charcoal.

We invite you to leave a comment and share your reflections with us as we too continue to think with these ideas. 

We wonder… how do these pieces of writing make you feel? What do YOU notice? What new thinking may they spark in you?

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