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TTT Budapest – Report by Defne Erdur

Topics to work on, agreed upon by all the 7 teachers before meeting, were: - Education and creative thinking, personal development, art education... - Art Education: What is the role of “art” in your teaching practice? At what point does it become tangible?

Having come from a very hectic and unfortunate period in my country, I was not sure if I could function at this meeting. However, the way we decided to lead and moderate the meetings, and the means we utilized to discuss and come to decisions, made me feel so embraced and hopeful. I felt hope not only for my own teaching practice, but also for my country’s future. This week was like a trial demonstration for a more democratic, equal and humanistic method of living and teaching. In addition, the trial was really successful, inspiring and motivational for me.
We all were interested in “creativity” and “creative ways” in which to share knowledge. Moreover, it seemed that we also shared a common interest in “bridging life and art” and transmitting these views in our teaching practice.

Therefore, we took the risk and decided to function in unknown territory. We decided not to have a clear structure and plan for the arch of the week. We had an aim. We had tools and capabilities. We knew what we were doing. We knew why we were doing it. However, this time we allowed ourselves not to know how we were doing it! We had to negotiate each and every step, giving voice to all opinions surrounding the decision. Yes, it took more time to come to conclusions, but in the end, all the participants were able to find their own space in which they could function and have their needs met. We managed to establish a nice flow of exercises, discussions, games and presentations.

We were also very open and flexible within the structure that we created. The duties and exercises we realized together were distributed equally among us. Each participating teacher found his or her place in the group by “doing” things. All the teachers were able to share bits and pieces from their teaching practice. Although we did not have teaching sessions that involved the whole class, I personally felt that I could get an idea or feeling of what each and every participating teacher was focusing upon. I could sense what approaches they were utilizing and how they were transmitting their accumulated knowledge. Also, I was inspired by much of the sharing... It was so good to observe and experience different ways and approaches and relate them to my methods and interests...

Many useful points were raised during this week. As an active teacher, it was a pleasure to recognize once again that in teaching we do not only transmit content, but also energy, attitude and models for relating to information and human beings. It reminded me to pay attention to different means of transmission – i.e., audio, visual, kinaesthetic – since a learner may have different memory functions, different needs and qualities. Within this framework, another interesting topic to discuss was the relationship between the three main ingredients – student, teacher and the content of the class – and how to build trust-based bonds between the three for a healthy and fruitful educational environment. This led to discussions about being a teacher in an institutional context and the roles and deeds we are obliged to take on as educators operating in these institutions. Coming from a young institution, which is currently trying to restructure its curricula, I was happy to hear ideas from other teachers and learn about other institutional problems. Now, I can share these examples with my institution and shed light upon certain aspects from a more common ground.
Towards the end of the week, as we prepared to share the results of our week’s research with the public, we returned to the topics of “teaching performance and the performance aspect of teaching itself”. Interestingly, due to the open and non-hierarchical structure we were working with, the “result” also happened to reflect this approach. We ended up creating a playful, trust-based, receiver-driven sharing
environment. All the material we used (books, sketches, audio recordings, music, games and instructional excerpts) were presented to the audience, and the audience was invited to choose from these as we went along. This way, any possible stress was lifted from the presenter’s shoulders. The emphasis was on horizontal sharing.

By the end, we realized that the audience was a bit lost and stressed at first, since this non-hierarchical structure (the sharing-harvesting circle) was new to them. Yet, as they found their own ways to relate to the material, they relaxed and even started to enjoy the process..I personally learned a lot from this “unknown” territory and am very much inspired to take this approach forward – not only in my teaching, but also in the interactions of my daily life. I should also state,that I am very thankful for having taken part in such research, since I am approaching the final steps of earning my PhD. It has stimulated
thought on many points that relate to my own research into “artist education on the transitive line between life and art”. It has motivated me to question many of the “conclusions” that I had already reached in my thesis. I hope to keep in touch with all the participants to elaborate further upon their points of view and to include these voices in my thesis. Moreover, I am inspired to carry on such meetings in my own
country, where local artists and teachers can come together to find innovative ways to function in this difficult period for my nation.

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