Archive for the 'Pedagogy' Category
June 12th, 2011 by nkatz22
In fact, this work has roots back to 2000, when I first started working as a teacher. At the time I had put aside my “artistic” work in favor of “political” work. It was difficult for me to see a potential relationship between the two. So, I spent a year in Guatemala and Chiapas working in an orphanage and doing human rights work. When I returned to New York I spent another year continuing political work within the frame of the pacifist organization The War Resisters League, and with a series of affiliations in the popular anti-globalization protests of the pre-Bush, pre-9/11 days. All of this naturally led to my seeking a teaching position in a high school in the Bronx.
For five years in the Bronx I worked as an art and computer teacher. As with my other political work, I always applied the creative sensibility of the artist, out of the fact that that is who I am, because that is the language that I speak, the education that I had, and because it was often necessary in order to survive a difficult and often frustrating situation of a public school in New York. Although I approached this job creatively, and often did some very creative things (such as co-founded a Spanglish theater company for Bronx youth) I never presented it as my artistic work. Rather, I often found myself frustrated that I was exerting so much energies (creative and physical) towards the job and that I was unable to find the time to be in “the studio”.
I finally left the school in 2005 and in 2006 started graduate school at RISD. When presenting work in grad school I often found how naturally the work of a teacher fit into the narrative of the “artistic” work that I was now doing as a graduate student. I was starting to re-evaluate and re-appreciate exactly what it was that I did for those five years on artistic terms.
As the intentionality was lacking so was the contextualization.
June 12th, 2011 by nkatz22
Two years ago I proposed the following sixth category to Alan Kaprow’s five categories of art:
Work in nonart modes and nonart contexts, do not present the work as art in nonart contexts while simultaneously presenting it as art in art contexts.
I then spent two years working as a school teacher in Italy, in the context of the school presenting it as my work, while in the context of art presenting it as my creative work.
I will try over the next few days and blog posts to write some reflections on what turned out to be, for me, a hugely disappointing failure and compromise. Both for obvious reasons, and some surprising reasons.
December 16th, 2010 by nkatz22
Finally this month in Milan an exhibition opened on the themes of school as art and alternative knowledge production. if the artistic topic finally made its way to Italy (which is quite slow in acknowledging relevant contemporary art trends) then it must be a topic that is well spent and out of date. The show of course has it’s usual cast of characters, with the grandfatherly willats and rollins and the overrated (it doesn’t really have anything to do with learning, even if it calls itself a school) copenhagen free school, and of course the necessary sidekick of a temporary library.
Thinking about it made me reflect about my work from three years ago that was dealing with topics of education, it seemed I was working on this just before the big peak of art and school in 2008-09 and at the time I couldn’t get too many curators or residencies so interested in my ideas. At first I thought to myself that maybe I just missed the trend and then I thought that actually the artistic research that I was doing at the time was on the performativity of education and the educational potential of performance (the topics of performance of self is still a primary area of focus in my work) and that the later trend of school as art that stemmed from the 2006 failed manifesta and followed into this past year of hot new york shows and free schools focus primarily on the topic of education as one of economy. A research into the performance of education has not surfaced in this wave of school as art. It came to me that the focus on economy is quite convenient for the art market, and although it is seemingly a radical proposal of alternative forms of knowledge acquisition, in reflection it seems to me as being more of a neo-conservative reinforcement of status quo. Because while artists are creating alternative models of education and knowledge acquisition as art, they are proposing the despecialization of fields of knowledge. And while most of these models bring into conversation some philosophy or some science or some craft, the truth of those fields is that they are commodifiable areas of expertise who are unthreatened by their brief free dispersal in an art context. But the creative process itself is the big loser. The artist comes out of this exercise as acknowledging within their own context the inability to place value on the creative process. This may in fact seem like a desirable statement to make until you realize that its repurcussions do not fall on the art market or on the larger market or even on the art education industry, but rather on the artist’s ability to demand some recognition of their non symbolic material value within society. So now if i want to present my skills as a teacher of creative processes I am confronted with a society that does not put as much material value on this skill as on maths or sciences (which is already a given in our culture) but also of other artists who are re-enforcing that idea that my skills don’t have a material value because they will do it for free.
September 8th, 2010 by nkatz22
The letter Ss from our artist book, an ABbeCedario for newly arrived immigrants to Italy. An alternative educational tool for learning the language through the sale items in supermarket circulars.
September 8th, 2010 by nkatz22
The cover of our new artist book, an ABbeCedario for newly arrived immigrants to Italy. An alternative educational tool for learning the language through the sale items in supermarket circulars.
May 19th, 2010 by nkatz22
As a child I was a foreigner in a foreign country. I grew up as an American in Israel, though I had never before lived in the United States. On the Kibbutz where we lived there were many foreign volunteers, young folks in their twenties from all over the world (mostly US, Western Europe and Australia) that would spend some time working in exchange for living costs. Being the English speaking foreign boy, I used to spend a lot of time in the company of these volunteers, and I would imagine what the far away countries they came from were like. With the help of one volunteer, at the age of 8 I created a world atlas, creating a page of vital statistics for all of the countries I could think of.
This past month The second grade class to whom I teach Art and Computers in Monza was studying about homelands. An opportune moment considering the research around “Making Aliyah”. So I asked my second graders to create invented homelands, to construct maps and flags and cultural identities, they even wrote a national anthem. We did some reflection on what makes one place different from another, and how we know that we belong to a particular place.
Consensus around what is a homeland can be summed up with Stella’s comment, “Like an island or something. A piece of earth where some people live.”
We are compiling the invented homelands into an atlas of the World of Grade 2. Following are some examples.
February 9th, 2010 by nkatz22
I love Trade School in NY even if it is just hipsters for hipsters.
And anyway christopher robbins will be there.
June 11th, 2009 by nkatz22
By Barbara and Nathaniel Katz
(written June 2008)
I try to imagine what an education that is not cerebral would look like, maybe one that is emotional, or physical. I asked my mother about her teaching experience. She is a speech pathologist, who for many years worked in a charter school for children with developmental and severe physical disabilities. In this environment the meaning of school and education take on an entirely different model. The focus is on mediating a meaningful and holistic experience with the world: physical, emotional, intellectual. Though it is by necessity a highly mediated pedagogy, I thought that perhaps in looking at this model we might find clues to a different way of imagining learning. My mom explains:
Children in my world are children trapped in bodies that they cannot control, that don’t follow the rules, bodies that often lead to frustration, anger, and even passivity. These children are first and foremost children. They want to play, learn, experience and interact with the world just like “typically-developing” children, but they cannot do so in the traditional manner. The challenge is how to help them be children and embrace the world as children.
We try to bring an experience of the world to them and bring them into an experience of the world. Every experience, every concept, every activity is modified, intensified, and adapted to enable interaction and participation to the fullest. Every experience can and must be presented in a multitude of modalities.
Every time I plan a lesson, I try to break it into all the many ways I think it can be experienced. Sensory: movement, taste, touch, seeing, hearing. Social: interacting with friends, with family, with teachers, and the subtleties of interaction. Cognitive: functional needs, independence in world, intellectual stimulation, and self-expression in a way that we can understand and interpret.
I think the most difficult challenge for me was to learn patience; patience to understand and appreciate each child’s learning method and pace; patience to allow them the time they needed to process the information, and to respond in their own special way; patience to allow them to fail (and not give in to my need for them to succeed by “traditional” standards) patience to be sensitive and tuned in to the subtleties of their responses and to watch, listen and interpret those responses which (though nonverbal) spoke to me loud and clear.
Nonverbal communication becomes so much more significant, so critical when one is unable to speak, when that is all you have. Facial expression, body language and posture, emotional engagement can speak volumes.
April 7th, 2009 by nkatz22
My collaborative project Fare il Pane a Bologna (Making Bread in Bologna), with Valentina Curandi and Chiara Landonio is part of the Iceberg Festival in Bologna, Italy and will take place between May 21-23 in several market locations and outside of the MAMbo Museum of Modern Art.
Following is a description of the project, we are also keeping a blog to accompany and document the project, with background and historical information that we are gathering around the process. It is both in Italian and English and you can follow it at http://fareilpaneabologna.net/
We would like to investigate the idea of the workshop as a place for putting in common hands knowledge and abilities, personal involvement and process based ways of relationships and transmission.
We have chosen bread for its real importance, for the social and metaphorical value, and for its special relationship with Bologna and the surrounding territory (the tradition of bread production is celebrated by a poetical street of bread that runs through town and connects surrounding villages on the mountains).
We chose bread production as a process, based on the idea of taking time as a way to take place. The many ways in which personal knowledge is actualized, through sharing, comparison, and mixing, mirrors the process of bread production.
WORKSHOP STATION IN STREET MARKETS
We would like to set up a stand for the daily preparation of bread along side other commercial stands in some of the local markets of Bologna.
We will offer ingredients to participants that are interested in producing their own bread.
As a consequence of this invitation, the workshop aims to show and open possibilities of sharing knowledge and techniques on preparation among the participants.
Possible locations are:
- the organic market, c/o the occupied space called xm24, via Fioravanti
- the Earth Market, c/o the courtyard of the Cineteca
- the weekly market, known as la piazzola, Piazza Otto Agosto
WALKING PATHS THROUGH BOLOGNA
During the time necessary for the bread to rise, participants will organize a route to walk together and carry the bread to reach the site of baking, the former Public Bakery of Bologna, now converted to the Municipal Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMBo). Since each market is located in different parts of the town, we hope to draw, and realize together several alternative routes to reach our bakery, according to our needs and the available rising time.
BAKING BREAD IN A MODERN ART MUSEUM
We’d like to build a brick and clay oven for baking bread in the green area in the backyard of the museum, near the future public park located at the center of the District of the Arts which in the future will connect several institutions and organizations dedicated to cinema, visual arts and music. In this way the oven built for this occasion will last as permanent sign of the intervention, becoming available for the use of visitors to the park. Starting the wood burning oven and waiting to bake could be a time to spend in relation to, and we hope to get more confident with, the spaces of the museum. Inviting people to visit together the contemporary art collection while the bread is baking.
When the bread is baked it is for the participants to enjoy.
RENEWING THE MEMORY AS A GIFT
At the end of each day of production we’d like to offer participants a piece of pasta madre, a special kind of yeast produced from the fermentation of flour and water, that requires daily care through simple manual gestures to remain alive and productive. We’d like to find out if there is still in Bologna an old kind of pasta madre, as we know it is usually jealously kept and passed on as a family heritage and secret. I found, we will ask for a small piece to start our bread production. We’d also like to offer this pasta madre as a gift to allow its story to cross new and different paths.
Otherwise, we will bring with us the pasta madre we use in our daily bread baking, a young pasta madre and a gift from Central Italy.