Interview with my husband.
My idea is to use several images from Cindy Sherman's film stills series to inspire animation students to use themselves as a way to build complex and believable characters.
My husband is a designer and goes to museum shows with me. He is art savvy and creative. I noticed later in the interview I misstepped and asked closed questions rather than open ones so I had to fix that.
Here's our conversation over morning coffee:
Me: What do you notice about these three images?
Knut: They are taken in New York, mid-town Manhattan most probably. They are Cindy Shermans.
Knut: I know she does these art pieces where she makes herself up and assumes an archetype character.
Me: Why do you think she does that?
Knut: The archetypes exist in everyday life but they are not explicitly acknowledged. It's art's job to point that out. And it's a way to capture a level of meaning in photographs that's not normally in photographs, but for which photography is really pretty good.
Me: What do the pictures have in common?
Knut: She's not looking at the camera. The two street photos look like clandestine street photography. The one in the middle is a pin up type thing. On second look the third one has more of a staged fashion look. The two outside ones use architecture to set the scene. They all have a sense of anonymity.
Me: (adding information) They are part of a series called "film stills".
Knut: True, there is more light in the foreground than in the background.
Here's where I slipped into yes,no questions:
Me: Do you take photos yourself? Knut: Yes
Me: Do you take photos of yourself? Knut: Not really.
I quickly noticed the different answers were based on the way the questions were phrased!!! What a difference!
So I switched to this closer:
Me: I'm going to show these to my animation drawing students to encourage them to use themselves as characters. How do you think that strategy might play out?
Knut: They are probably more open to this task than previous generations of students.
Then he had to go to work, and I came to the MOOC to post my homework:-)
My big take away is that the form of the question REALLY EFFECTS the form of the answer. I have studied this topic in qualitative research techniques, but I lapsed into a yes/no question without thinking with my husband. This activity brought home that the planning and pattern in your questions has a direct effect on the answers and the potential engagement of your interviewee. Asking someone to think about something and apply what they think encourages creative problem solving and activates the imagination.
I have been teaching all week. I've deliberately changed some of the ways I interact with my students based on some of the inspiring ideas exchanged here in the MOOC. The combination of the MOOC's structured readings and videos with the lively discussions by my fellow in-the-trenches teachers from all over the world is powerful stimulation to experiment. I am finding new ways to interact with my students in terms of engaging in deeper conversations using art, in this case their own drawings, as a launch pad for deeper inquiry and learning. I am also turning them loose with sets of questions and challenges that they can use together in small team work. This distribution of the inquiry method into the smaller student groups has made my classes much more exciting.
Inquiry Activity Example: I do a bit of game playing in my classes. One gamification strategy is to challenge the students to give each other "awards" by picking drawings that exemplify some of the skills we are teaching. I ask student team to give awards for Betty Edwards' 5 perceptual skills of drawing: light/dark, positive/negative space, edges, relationships, and Gestalt. So instead of me discussing light and dark in a critique, the students on the Light/Dark Team select 3 drawings from the classwork displayed to get the L/D awards. When they give the award, they have to give the reasons that they gave the awards to these drawings. The 5 Principles Awards has been a way that students engage with each other to practice critical thinking AND (big plus) apply their growing design vocabulary in a safe small group setting. I've noticed that the level of observation has deepened along with a growing comfort level using professional design vocabulary. Also, students are learning that the drawing skills they need to succeed are evolving right in the room. They are growing in confidence as they seriously observe and evaluate specific aspects of the class drawings based on the 5 perceptual skills.