Attention Workshop

Florian Roithmayr, School of Art and Communication Design                f.roithmayr@reading.ac.uk

Overview

The two-day workshop “Attention Please” engaged students across the School of Art and Communication Design and the School of Architecture in a series of exercises to re-focus and sharpen their attention onto different materials, in different settings, under different circumstances, and in different speeds, challenging established routines and habits.

Objectives

  • experience and develop skills to collaborate across disciplines and year groups
  • develop team building skills
  • develop skills in mindfulness and sustained attention
  • challenge usual routines and habits of engaging with materials and objects
  • challenge discipline specific practices, narratives and vocabulary of engaging with materials and objects

Context

The workshop was conceived as an extra curriculum activity independent of regular departmental teaching and learning to address attitudes and practices that affect students and researchers across disciplines and year groups. Funding allowed and facilitated a whole program of exercises and in-depth engagement over two full-days of activities across Schools.

Implementation

A number of specialist coaches and mentors were invited to facilitate different exercises and workshops as individual or group activities to build a program that develops and unfolds over the course of the two days: a percussion workshop to develop skills in listening and responding within groups, to work with and against rhythms and melodies, volume levels and intensities. A voice coach gave a workshop in speaking and shouting, assertiveness in discussions and silence. A body coach gave a workshop in posture, attention to body language and reading behaviour. A flower-arranging specialist offered a workshop in composition and attention to details. Workshops also engaged participants in sustained periods of mindfulness, concentration and awareness, to each other, themselves, or their surrounding environment and context.

Impact

Student feedback on the days and reflective feedback at the end suggests a real need for more cross-school activities and engagements, and peer learning. Especially postgraduate researchers expressed the positive impact engaging with other student years had on their work/research habits.

Reflections

The timing of the workshop proved to be a major contributing factor to the success of the activities: although not pre-planned and designed as such, the end of the summer term offered the chance for a large uptake by participants as students had finished their exams and were keen and open and very interested to participate in extra curriculum activities across the school without the restraint of clashes with teaching and other commitments.

Follow up

There has not been any further development, but there is always the possibility to repeat the activity again in the future and build on the workshop as a whole.

Links

https://www.flickr.com/gp/readingfineart/5QB6XW 

 

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