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Active Learning in London

I was lucky enough to get into a class here at Westminster called Art and Society.  The topics are as such and the module consists of two parts.  The first hour of the day is spent in the classroom learning how to look at art and artifacts critically.  The second part is about three hours at a museum or art gallery.  One of the best decisions I’ve made since being abroad is taking this class. With my Art and Society class, I’ve attended the Tate Britain, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tate Modern, Imperial War Museum, Museum of London, The National Gallery and have more upcoming visits.
 
The goal of this module is to learn how to think critically about the objects or places.  In the first hour of class, we think of and answer questions like “what is the purpose of this museum?” and “what can this object tell us about London during this era?”  Always asking questions is a key part to active learning.  It encourages you to deeper examine an object’s function, helping you gain a deeper understanding of it’s intention. We also learn a brief background of where we are going as a class, which gets us in the right mindset and have a more insightful approach.
 
Another key to active learning when at a museum is to take your time and really engage with the exhibit.  These days, a lot of presentations are set up to create an experience.  For instance, at the Museum of London, you are able to walk through a recreated Victorian village.  Being surrounded by a time period allows you to actively absorb with the era.  When at an art gallery, active learning means to observe details and context.  If you were looking at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers at the National Gallery, you would want to notice the bright colors and expressive brushstrokes.  You would then consider the artist’s emotions and intentions when painting.  Taking your time is crucial to get the full effect and the most out of the visit.
 
Taking Art and Society has allowed me to have a deeper understanding on London’s contemporary culture and ancient history.  I probably wouldn’t have gone to half of these places on my own, let alone learn from them.  The module has enhanced my experience here by making me consider significant parts of London.  If there is a class similar to Art and Society, I strongly recommend taking it.  It is one thing to study a book, and a whole other to have experiences like this and be active in your learning.
 
Katie Buckleitner-- London MOJO

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