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Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Preparing for Semester 2

Some actions to follow up on. Cross out when done.

  • Plan the half year, then months, then weeks. The work this semester is not going to be as easy to fit into my “spare” time as semester one was, particularly the two Art Lab sessions. So, book holidays for those.
  • Change the blog layout to allow multiple courses. I’d locked it into a structure that only really supported one course, so need to put another level of hierarchy in there.
  • Do the independent study! I did well at this in semester one, and need to keep the same focus this semester – if only one or two weeks get away from you, it’s hard to pull it back. So, write up the group sessions, then get stuck into the independent study.
  • Critically, there are two assignments for 237.131 each one with only six weeks to plan/do/submit. I need to plan for the assignment in week one and start getting the submission set up – that was a time sink last time.
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Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Changing course

I wrote somewhere that what I really want to do is a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). That’s not something you can jump straight into – you either have to come out of college level arts and have your portfolio pre-approved, or apply and have your portfolio accepted.

To build a portfolio, and get back into learning, I’d enrolled in Massey’s Diploma in Visual Arts course. Seemed like a win/win option.

Now, it is possible to take some of the BFA modules as part of the DipVA, with permission from the faculty. So, I spoke to one of the BFA tutors on Zoom to ask about this. He suggested that, rather than wait, I just submit a portfolio immediately. If it was accepted, then I could switch to BFA and save a lot of time (taking my DipVA credits with me); if not, then at least I’d know what I need to work on.

So, I submitted a portfolio.

The portfolio was accepted.

I’m now a BFA student!

This is quite… a nice surprise.

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237.130 Communication for Makers Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Reflections – Going Online

Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes

Across the Universe
Fiona Apple

New Zealand is locked down this week, because of the COVID pandemic. Our lessons shifted online and we attended over Zoom. There were about 35 of us, and it kind of worked. We were split into breakout rooms at various points, which are a pretty pale imitation of doing group work face-to-face, but we did OK.

I found it interesting that last week I was pretty nervous, and my young peers were quite chatty, but this week I was fine online, but my peers seemed pretty subdued. Perhaps because I spent all of the main NZ lockdown working really actively all-day-every-day in Teams, and you get used to it, so you wade in and get your point across because you have to. No idea. I doubt any of them are ever going to read this and clue me in.

Perhaps first year students don’t initially realise that, in any modern career, communications isn’t part of the job; it is the job. This is a hyper-connected world, and even if you’re not all that comfortable being thrown into a virtual room and told to work together with a bunch of strangers, just say, “screw it”, and get stuck in. In your entire career, you’re probably never going to come across as safe a place to do that as university.

If you can’t do it, then stand up, walk, talk. Sitting in front of a screen is a mode of existence designed for solo work, and being sat down in education in general comes with a strong sense of, “I’m about to be taught”, especially when you’ve been in formal education for over a decade. Hard habits to break.

Maybe “Communication for Makers” is their most important course of all?

I also thought about interviewing people for junior roles, which can actually be tougher than hiring for senior positions, although usually a lot less risky. I can’t really hire you for what you’ve done; instead, I’m trying to hire for potential. I’m far more interested in how you communicate. How do you take on information and process it? Do you restate what’s being asked so you’re sure you understand? How do you tailor your response to your audience? Did you assemble your thoughts into a coherent story before you open your mouth. And so on.

This morning I met my three final year project students, to talk about the app they’re building for me. They were really professional, engaged, showed up with a meeting agenda, took minutes (and sent them out afterwards!), and so on. We met, naturally, on Teams. Now, these are IT students in their final year, not Art students in their first year. There are many, many differences between them, and I’ve no idea what the key differentiator is. It could that be all three of “my” students have worked in a professional environment for a while, be that as an intern, during vacations, or alongside their studies. Then again, I’ve worked with a number of students fresh out of university that have the communication chops too though.

Let’s hypothesize that it’s university. I just haven’t figured out how yet.

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Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Reflections – First Session

And I am so ignorant now, with all that I have learnt

Sunglasses
Black Country, New Road

Quite an odd morning. Acting for my boss, who’s on leave, so my first meeting of the day was with his peers and manager; then, I met with three final year Weltec students whose project I’m supporting/sponsoring; then a few other meetings, a quick lunch, then off up to Massey to become a student again. Everything connects, somehow.

I left lots of time to get up to Massey, and managed to live the full fresher experience by getting hopelessly lost, but eventually got my student ID and found the lecture room with all of 5 minutes to spare, all hot and bothered.

Naturally enough, I am the old guy in class. Literally every other student, and there must have been 50 or so, is straight out of high school. I’m always amazed by how well spoken and grounded young Kiwi adults are, and this lot was no exception. Calm and thoughtful, chatty, witty – not at all what I remember being like at 18.

I did feel very out of place. There was group work along the,”think about a time when”, line, which is always interesting, but in this case also quite nerve-wracking. Being realistic here: I’m likely to have more experiences to draw on than the other students, so I feel like I should STFU and let the others talk. I badly want to approach university like I did at 18, but that’s probably going to be impossible!

Then, something really positive happened. We had a couple of minutes break, and one of the tutors, Matthijs, came over for a chat. He was so kind. He asked a little about my background, and let me know that I have just as much right to be in the class as anyone else, and that I should jump in and contribute. It doesn’t sound like therapy, but it helped a lot.

So, maybe I’m not out of place after all…

…and now I have homework to do, just like everyone else.

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Bachelor of Fine Arts Reflections on studying

Reflections – Is this thing on?

So I’m going back to university tomorrow, to study Visual Arts.

It’s been some time since I graduated as an Engineer.

If I’m counting right, it’s been 28 years and 8 months. This is obviously “some time”.

I am nervous about this. I have an intense technical job and manage a team of 25 or so. But still, becoming an art student is… stressful.

This is a leap, you see. I will explain why elsewhere.