Andrea Dancer

Sound Artist Composer Educator


Cultivating Joy in Learning

Miss Marta – “just a Polish girl”

My teaching philosophy is that learning happens in spaces of unknowing — one must leave what one knows to embrace what one comes to know. This interim stage is full of uncertainty — even fear and insecurity– and, as such, requires carefully cultivated learning environments. Once achieved, the rewards are rich — renewed sense of self and possibilities. Learning par excellence!

Learning outcomes overall and in each assignment are clearly set out, explained, open to student input and build each on the other. Student reflection about their learning process forms a vital part of that process.

It is my role, as teacher, to articulate and set standards of excellence through my own work, conduct and interaction with students and their art. This can be challenging for some students; inspiring for others — but in setting the bar high, it is also my responsibility and commitment that students are fully supported, championed and given the tools and resources they need to meet this articulation of expectations.

I bring a lifelong pursuit and commitment to excellence and personal growth. This consists of a 20+ years arts practice, professional and academic inter-disciplinary research skills, and continually evolving work habits. These are both modeled and imparted to the students — a glimpse into my lived-experience worlds.

The curriculum material, itself, is important and I’m passionate about many subject areas related to my own research and practice: I value both close reading, deep understanding, as well as open and visionary thinking. I am a creative thinker who revels in finding deeper linkages between seemingly disparate knowledge bases.

However, the how-to-learn part of learning is the most important part of teaching the material because of the opportunity it presents to teach the process of learning. In other word, teaching a student how to effectively take apart an article in order to understand it’s structure, writing style, point-of-view, biases, etc. greatly enhances the overall knowledge acquisition — of the process and the material itself. These are basic scholarly skills available to all students at all levels and they are also often not taught.

Significant learning happens experientially and in between classroom time. Classrooms are preparation and resource gathering venues. The real integration of knowlege happens in the student’s everyday life and between students in their mutual lives.

Students and their peers are vital learning resources. Peer collaboration, critiquing and collective self-directed studies and projects are important ways to enable this rich (often overlooked) repository of diverse information.

Open dialog, availability, person-ability and a clear speaking and writing style are personal traits I bring to this exchange the students and I enact. The students also inspire my process and thinking. I consider it a true exchange and I do, indeed, take their work seriously.

For details about the learning experience and examples of student works, see Student Work and Charles University pages.  See an online course syllabus for this program at Art as Inquiry-Research.

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