What is Education to me? Painting my Answer "Live" In a Multi-Modal Art Piece

For a seminar course, "Innovative Practices in the Classroom" at Brock University, I was asked to express what education was to me. The course covered such topics as, authentic assessment, technology implementation, and project based learning to name a few. Here I combine music and live digital painting, using Adobe creative Suite to provide my answer to this rich and complex question. Continue reading below to learn more about my messy creative process.

Education is a deeply personal process that can transform students' lives. For this assignment, I was asked to produce an artifact that expresses what education is to me. A symbol of a doorway and a key originally seemed fitting. However, after some additional thought, these two images alone may imply that education is more accessible than I perceive it to be. Eventually, I came to the image of a child peeking through a keyhole.
Some of you may make the connection that I see education as a key to a bright future--as valid as this interpretation might be--this old adage seems problematic in our current neo-liberal globalized context.  After sketching a rough version, I found the image had the potential to ask more questions than provide answers. Whatever the interpretation may be, the keyhole and the door implies something magical yet to come for the subject in the painting.
My original idea was to draw this picture over a podcast-style audio track of interviews, memoirs and my ideas around the topic of education. I had this idea when I created a podcast for another class last year (see below). I experimented by adding a dummy track after the footage of the digital painting was captured. My canned opinions over the image no longer worked because I realized that the painting could have multiple interpretations by itself. I also experimented by adding a voiceover of a simplified reading of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Again, it sounded forced and detracted from the process of this image taking shape in front of you. When I found the music, I felt it worked on it’s own and was a great fit for the mood and tempo of the image.
This quote was from a text that I read in my first year undergrad course, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. I remember that I enjoyed the class immensely mainly because the professor was a passionate caricature of what you think a philosophy professor should be. I didn’t do well in that course, but I remembered the cave and the imagery of the slaves in chains staring at shadows on a wall. The image stuck with me. I like the image of light as education or knowledge. It works for me. Maybe because I am a visual learner.
Ironically, this was my first time doing this style of video. I learned and made mistakes as I went through the process. I think this emphasizes the idea that true education and learning can be messy.  Much like the video I created, it’s an iterative process that calls for plans to change and adapt as we reflect on our process. I wish I could say that this was an ingenious motivation for choosing this type of medium--it’s not. The theme of “making mistakes as you plod along” only struck me as apparent after the video was completed and I was discussing it with friends.

Literacy Podcast:
Plato’s Cave Allegory:

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