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It has been interesting to me to read the comments by different teachers in terms of their efforts to use a circle pedagogy. One of the critical elements is the use of silence; that is, when a student doesn’t speak up immediately when it is his or her turn, teachers often step in because they are uncomfortable with silence. But silence can be useful as it can give hesitant students time to work up the courage to speak. Most students learn quickly that teachers will (unfortunately) fill up all available space and use that knowledge to avoid taking the risk of speaking up (risky because many students are afraid of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing). All the more reason for teachers to learn not to be afraid of silence and to see it as a pause, a moment for reflection, a quiet time rather than a void to be immediately filled.
I’ve recently been receiving various comments on the Dialogue Portal and am very excited that it’s still being used. I find it interesting that different educators are finding a variety of ways to implement and expand the circle pedagogy that I have used whenever I’ve taught. I’m glad that it is being used and is useful but I’ve found that giving students space and time in the circle over and over again slowly helps break the dynamic of ‘the loudest voices’ dominating discussions. So keep sharing your thoughts. Judy ChicagoNovember 25, 2015 at 10:03 am in reply to: 3. Men's role in the struggle for women’s equality? #4743
P.S. As someone who has spent 5 decades working for change in and out of the art institutions, I am discouraged by the fact that we seem to be moving backwards, especially in studio art which has been deeply affected by the market-driven art world. As a result, students are being encouraged to substitute form for content, instant gratification for deep discovery and trivial ideas for lasting one. As a student of women’s history, I realize that change takes a long time and that periods of progress are followed by a push-back by the culture which is what we are presently in. How I long for the revolutionary fervor of the 1970s. Judy Chicago
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have been very disappointed by the lack of male participation in the Dialogue Portal. So I appreciate your having taken the time to comment and hope that it will stimulate other men to take part. Judy Chicago
A few weeks ago, I posted some comments in response to all the posts in Part 3 but for some reason, they disappeared into cyberspace so I thought I’d try again. I am wondering if people looked at the videos for this part or read the chapter “What About Men?” in “Institutional Time”, my recent book on studio art education. The reason that I am asking is that my hope for the Dialogue Portal is that it will become a place for real discourse about the issues raised and that can only happen if participants spend some time researching the suggested materials before posting their replies.
Also, in my research for the chapter on men in my book, I read a number of essays by men discussing the fact that they were made to feel unwelcome in many women’s studies classes and feminist discussion groups, something that I find very regrettable. Women study and discuss male-centered art and ideas all the time and it is my hope that it will become a normal part of academic life for men to participate in female-centered topics. I would be very interested to learn about the experiences that men are having now and how they feel about some of the questions and posts. Judy Chicago
Because there are so many examples of destructive power in our society – and in our classrooms – it is sometimes easy to forget that there are positive ways of enacting power and that should be the goal in the classroom; that is, to use one’s power as a teacher to help students find and exercise their own power. Unfortunately, there are too many examples of inappropriate use of power in the classroom, be it professors who dominate the classroom; take over the facilities and/or the students for their own artistic goals; and in my day, too many male professors slept with their female students.
There need to be more and new ways to exercise power, using it to share with students – knowledge, information, guidance and support. Power should be exercised in the service of freedom for everyone.
I don’t agree that a white, female teacher cannot help her black male students find their own path to art. But it requires helping them look at their own experiences and find in them the content that they care about. Once that is accomplished, the teacher can use her knowledge of art to help them express themselves as well as they can as well as encourage them to discover art on the subjects that interest them. It is important to recognize that art is one of the few paths to crossing the boundaries between us, no matter what they might be. Judy Chicago
I would say that there is a big difference between art education in the classroom and the actual practice of art in the world. Activism and change are not popular ideas in the art world; in fact, the art world promotes art that is far away from most people’s real concerns. One of the reasons my work has met so much resistance is that it speaks directly to the viewer and is not dependent upon critics to decode it. I believe in the power of art to transform consciousness and contribute to change. But I do not think it is realistic to think that art education can accomplish this though it certainly can help students find their personal voices and discover that there are many ways to be involved in art other than hands-on artmaking. Judy Chicago
I just wanted to say that I thought that Leslie Sotomayor’s comments about the use of a circle pedagogy were very thoughtful and I appreciated them. I often read about professor’s frustrations about non-participation in their classrooms which makes me impatient because there is such an easy method of countering that. And I have not found that people are intimidated. If they feel uncomfortable at first, they can always pass. But usually, everyone is excited about the level of sharing that a circle pedagogy allows – also, by the fact that they often find personal subject matter for artmaking through this process which is its goal.
Karen Keifer-Boyd pointed out that I had not been posting replies recently and I thought I’d explain why. Although I do not want to sound critical, I have been quite disappointed that my invitation to engage in discourse about the state of university studio art education has not stimulated a lively debate. In fact, some of the posts seem – at least to me – overly academic and/or abstract. Or they seem to have no relationship to the reality of university studio art education as I’ve experienced it or as many young women state. Since the publication of “Institutional Time”, I’ve done several book events after which countless young women who have graduated from art or art history programs have come up to me and said that my observations exactly parallel their experiences, most of which have been dismal, discouraging or disempowering. And yet, reading many of the posts one would assume that all is well in academia. Why is that, I wonder?
I wonder if I’m the only person who has witnessed visiting artists who are not really interested in interacting with students. Has anyone else had this experience?October 27, 2014 at 10:14 pm in reply to: 2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important? #4094
I am very glad that the dialogue portal is valuable to you. That is one of our goals.
Judy ChicagoOctober 3, 2014 at 7:19 pm in reply to: 2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important? #4018
Do you think that this is what happens in most university studio art programs? In my experience, they are not.September 30, 2014 at 7:49 am in reply to: 2. Is emphasis on content and finding personal voice important? #4016
That’s all very well about teaching skills. But in my recent book “Institutional Time”, I talk about visiting Moore College of Art and Design and discovering that the students were completely baffled by how they were supposed to make the transition from ‘assignments’ to personal expression. How do you propose helping students do that?