Disregarding the overall pessimism, the end of the year brings some positive feelings. One of which is about giving shape to ideas. About giving form to a project with a collage technique.
It’s been more than a year that I felt the need to share the theoretical and methodological discussions on media literacy I have been having with my good colleague Menis Theodoridis. Every now and then we would sit, enjoy a coffee and design a workshop or share thoughts about some project or curriculum aspect. And there were other professionals I’ve met during recent years, from various related fields, that we rarely had the chance to put in practice our ideas. More so, there was no chance to take the time to evaluate our thoughts.
So, something had to happen with these rich but fleeting and often incomplete opportunities. My belief that media learning is cross disciplinary, should always balance lecturing with hands on experience and that teaching is an artform itself, was also seeking a space to express its self.
Some serendipitous encounters gave me the decisiveness and shape I needed: first, a discussion with Mark Reid (Head of BFI Education) on Harvard’s Project Zero. (Funnily enough this useful chat was done while leaving La Ciotat, in France, a city indeed related to the birth of cinema). Then the clarity brought by a great new colleague, Nina Trifonopoulou, who saw that a recurring event was needed, if we were to meet the training requests from educators and other adults.
The fruit of these thoughts became the “Sunday coffee time with image and sound”. Here are the ingredients of this coffee blend:
The afternoon coffee, almost a ritual in Greece, gave us the warmth and cosiness we wanted for the event.
A 3-hour session every second Sunday of the month gave us a specific time capsule within which our ideas should fit. (And in any case there should be a limit to voluntary work!)
A space for cultural workshops, rented affordably from a friend working in animation, gave us an interesting space in the heart of Athens.
The financial crisis gave us the belief that it should be as cheap as possible to make it easy to join, either once or every time.
The stress of city life led us to plan independent meetings, with no obligation to follow the series.
Our workshop experience with challenging groups led us to take a flexible, developing structure around key themes. Although events are self-contained, this approach is fruitful for series participants, and create meaningful connections for us as designers.
My impulsive personality allows for experimentation with both old and new participants. Using my preparation, I can think aloud and bring new elements in modules I have already been working on.
A strong belief in the value of other people’s perspectives led us to invite insights from informed professionals from different fields who had become “media curious”. A ritual of “secret guests” was inaugurated already from the second workshop with enriching results. A strong disposition to discuss among us, participants and “secret guests” alike, promotes a pluralistic way of learning for all.
Finally, Theodora Malliarou, a young but systematic colleague, records proceedings and offers an external viewpoint while Nina keeps an eye on the flow of the content in each session.
The themes so far?
1. How to watch a student film and 2. Collective brainstorming techniques
Next themes to follow:
Psychology meets media over a still frame, Young children’s digital micro-worlds,
The very first time, in November, we had few but dedicated participants who ALL returned for our second meeting in December. The number actually doubled: 22 people left the room excited, and more experienced than when they arrived.
We will be making a report of the highlights and the structure of the meetings for further reference. The aim is to create a small Think Tank among media professionals, educators, and others who are interested in using media when interacting with groups of other people.
Blue sky thinking?
To strengthen the structure, make it sustainable and develop international meetings.