I too attended the workshops and found them to be really useful. Many of our ‘direct entry’ students up here in Scotland have little or no experience of critical theory when they come to us from an HND course, so engaging with academic writing can be extremely challenging, even more so if they are dyslexic, as some are.
I hope to work with our Effective Learning tutor this coming year, when we offer a summer school for these students. I’ll take what I learned from the day and expand on some of the excellent ideas from Pat’s workshop, I’ve already suggested that they buy her book, as I have. It will be my companion all through my PhD. It’s rekindled my love of John Berger for a start!
The collage workshop in the afternoon, I found particularly difficult to engage with; this is my own doing and no fault of the workshop itself, which was excellent, offering as it did, convincing references and arguments as to why collage is good for reflective thinking. Trouble is; this is what I’m doing as part of my qualitative inquiry for my own research; using collage to think, to articulate what I can’t say out loud, sometimes because I just don’t know but other times, it’s because it’s just too hard to find the words, let alone say them.
So, because this method of reflection is embedded in my poor brain, I found that I couldn’t just ‘go with the flow’ and enjoy it, I took it far too seriously. So much so that I took scissors to my concertina book, cutting into its form, almost deconstructing it. (there’s a paper in there somewhere!)
But all was not lost, I came home and reflected on my response and this has fed into the research. So maybe I did engage with it after all but not in the way intended? It was heartening to watch all the delegates immerse themselves in their collages; you should do it more often guys!
I came back up to Scotland invigorated and inspired, hopefully I will be able to pass this feeling onto my students and they too will benefit from some lateral thinking.
Alison F Bell
Artist & PhD candidate
University of the West of Scotland.