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Agency in Action. Students explore concept of power through transdisciplinary mash up!

Eighth Grade Visual Arts and Lang&Lit students recently delved into the construct of power. The objective was to understand, critically analyze, and personally apply the concept through their own lens.

After studying the concept of power, including reading The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, students wrote their own definitions of the term. They were then asked to use their understanding of the term and combine it with what they had learned about creating symbols in art. This required them to think critically about color, form, and function. 

The outcome of this work is demonstrative of student agency in action. Lang & Lit teacher Ms. Tricia Holloway shared,

“Many students viewed power as a negative, harsh concept - think money, governments, guns. But, a few students went the other direction and explored the beauty power could bring to the world if used correctly. I love that! I am blown away daily by the depth of understanding and application that comes from discussions, assignments and projects in these eighth-grade classrooms.”

As an example, this student flipped the script on a traditional definition of power:

To me power is the ability to have control. Control over my work, control over my body, control over myself. To me, power is communicating, and kindness. To me, power is the ability to be a higher person and have integrity. To me, power is accepting others and myself. To me, power is freedom. To me, power is being able to wear what I want, to have confidence. To me, power is being able to speak up for myself, others and even when I'm struggling being able to work through it. To me, power is caring and supporting others, making people feel loved. When we think about power, a lot of us associate that with money, wealth, and being privileged. Which is true, a lot of people who have these traits are considered “powerful”, however money or wealth or privilege can’t buy or get any of the things I listed above. And that fact right there, is something I find so fascinating, interesting, so powerful. A lot of us think power is something that is earned, something you get it you’re lucky, however everyone has power, it’s just if we choose to use it or not, if we choose to see it. Maybe we don’t have power over other people, but we have power over ourselves, which I think we take for granted sometimes. If we could all learn and realize that power is way deeper than just money and dominance, we could all become more powerful.

When I was trying to come up with a symbol for power, something that popped up in my mind were flowers. Flowers to me can be misconceived sometimes. People take them for granted, walking by them every day without noticing them. Which makes sense, there are so many flowers in the world, if we had to acknowledge every single one it would be nearly impossible. But if once a day, we would maybe just acknowledge one flower, I think we would realize the true beauty of it, and how lucky we are to have flowers. Now, if you re-read that, and switch the word “flowers” with “power”, it’s the same. Power is like flowers, beautiful, but sometimes taken for granted, and not appreciated as much as it should. And that’s why it is part of my symbol, along with two people holding hands and a heart. When we think of power, we sometimes automatically assume it’s negative and bad. Sometimes it is, however, there's beauty in power too, as long as it belongs to someone who can respect that.

Student agency also came to life in how the students chose to create their power symbol. Visual Arts teacher Ms. Risa Machovec (aka Ms. Mac) explained,

“I provided shape stencils, rulers, and a variety of drawing materials to help students to think of other ways to create symbols and several students found these tools useful. One student chose to use charcoal for their symbol drawing. What fascinated me is that this student had just begun to experiment with charcoal in an art class and felt confident enough to use it for this lesson! The students' ideas for creating symbols of power were creative and used both abstract ideas and realism.”

The process of the symbol creation was iterative, just like all the things we do in IB. Here are some of the in-process but not yet complete creations:

 

 

 

 

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Agency in Action. Students explore concept of power through transdisciplinary mash up!

Eighth Grade Visual Arts and Lang&Lit students recently delved into the construct of power. The objective was to understand, critically analyze, and personally apply the concept through their own lens.

This mash-up project is more than just a cool collab across disciplines, it demonstrates student agency in action.

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