Heather Boyd

The theme of this year’s Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies Symposium was Pedagogy: Engage, Critique, Inspire. During the symposium, I took part in a graduate student panel that featured a discourse on pedagogy as experienced here at PNCA and in relation to an arts education more generally. We broke down the categories of pedagogy into elements and questions of interest.

Engage, from my perspective, is the most crucial element. In our panel it was broken down into two components. In the first component we discussed mentorship and/or faculty relationships/dynamics by examining: What is the role of mentorship in an arts education?, and What is your experience with your relationship to faculty and administrators? The second component was on student leadership/engagement where we asked each other: What opportunities do you have for leadership roles?, and How have you taken the initiative to engage with/take agency in your education?
Student engagement as taking agency within their education is the most important aspect, to me, because students in the United States have forgotten the power they possess due to an indoctrination into a passive banking model of education. We have forgotten that the institution of education requires students.

Since participating in the panel I continue to ask myself, ‘What do we [as students] experience as our education?’ and then ‘What do we want?’. Asking ourselves what do we want is an important step in finding out what we collectively and individually value. We need to take time to reflect, and continue to reflect as values and needs change over time.

We need to be open to change and welcome conflict rather than to hold ourselves to ‘tradition’. We need to remind ourselves that we are currently shaping the educational environment for those who will follow. We need to feel the power and the responsibility in that. We need to know that education, though it is an enduring institution, is malleable.