Combine Knowing


Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram (1955-9)

In a conversation with Kelly Schrum titled “What’s Wrong with Writing Essays” Mark Sample explained why he was moving away from asking students to write traditional essays. Instead he was asking them to weave – “To build, to fabricate, to design.” He wasn’t trying to create miniature scholars, but rather he called passionately for innovation using a metaphor familiar to art historians. “I want them to be aspiring Rauschenbergs, assembling mixed-media combines, all the while through their engagement with seemingly incongruous materials developing a critical thinking practice about the process and product.”

This semester I had students submit outstanding creative assignments. One student researched Roman hair-styling and recreated the effect of a The Bust of a Flavian Woman. Another wrote a script for a SmArtHistory clip based on a fictional sculpture. And another wrote a fantastic analysis of Roman use of concrete based on his construction experience. These are just a few examples of how students can combine their life experiences, class content, and learning objectives to demonstrate unique ways of knowing. I am inspired by Sample’s approach, and will continue to encourage students to weave their own understandings in higher level, critical thinking.


In one of my favourite recent articles “Panic-gogy teaching online classes during the Coronavirus Pandemic” Robin DeRosa explains:

“I think the first thing is we are not building online courses or converting your face to face courses to online learning. Really, what we’re doing is we are trying to extend a sense of care to our students and trying to build a community that’s going to be able to work together to get through the learning challenges that we have.”

I really hope that after the pandemic is over we can all continue to foster a sense of care with our students and build collaborative learning communities.

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Teaching Online

When I finished my Provincial Instructor’s Diploma Program (PIDP) in the summer of 2018 one of my instructors recommended the Online/eLearning Instruction Certificate. I laughed and thought to myself, “nope, never teaching online.”

Well here we are in March of 2020. The Covid-19 Pandemic has struck and like many other profs, I found myself going from the ordinary face to face instruction to online learning – over a weekend. Fortunately for me the two courses I was teaching already had a strong online presence. I was using our LMS for content sharing, assignment submissions, and student communication. It has still been a rocky transition. So here I am taking EDUC 4150 with the hopes of being more prepared for the fall semester.