Broad Vision, a special program that gives a chance to students across the University of Westminster to entertain a process-based series of collaborations with a special focus on science visualization and visual learning, gave us a glimpse not only on the empowering potential of collaborative teaching and learning, but also on the sorry state of the university system as it stands right now.
In fact, classic university curriculum offers knowledge in a compartmentalized and highly specialistic fashion: it discourages any crossdisciplinary crossing, creating individuals who are strongly task oriented, one-sided and unable to establish any form of collaboration. conversely, the program presented today by Heather Barnett, Joshua Dinsmore, Melissa Fisher and John R.A. Smith demonstrated that in addition to the current curriculum, it is possible to incorporate modules that not only encourage, but also apply new methods that bridge different learning and acquired knowledge, that challenge assumptions and the divisions created by imposed professional language and ideas.
By sharing the body of knowledge of the participants through workshops and other relational exercises, conferences and symposia, both teachers and students gradually learn how to learn from each other.
this formula reminds me of Paulo Freire‘s methods described in his controversial, yet very influential “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” (here a summary and review of the book)where he proposes a pedagogical model based on dialogue, that is, on a two way exchange, as opposed to the current “banking model” of learning, that assumes that the student approaches the learning institution as if he/she were retrieving money from a bank.
The absence of curriculum is substituted by a strong emphasis on developing personalized and original learning.
One of the methods employed by the program was tested on us. we were asked to perform a sort of cadaver Esquis. We were given paper and pencils and were instructed to draw lined based on three sets of instructions. once each set was concluded, we had to pass our sheet to our neighbor. needless to say, despite the identical instructions, the results were stunningly different. it is true that given different backgrounds, circumstances, personality and perspectives, the levels of imagination and learning change dramatically…
I guess we were a good sample of population upon which to test this method.