Hidden Lessons created in Sydney on Darug Land over six months, is the culmination of a student-led, pedagogical project that encourages learners to interrogate their own educational experience: who we learn with, where we learn, and what we learn with in the wake of Covid-19, incorporating objects of everyday life from the Powerhouse collection.
The students from Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta, took part in this project developed and led by Lleah Smith, Artistic Associate of Powerhouse and Nadia Odlum, Artist in Residence at Parramatta Artists Studios. Through collective knowledge generated in the sessions together learners created their own temporary ‘Museum of Hidden Lessons’ which honours a significant shift in educative practices and invites speculation on how learnings from the pandemic may inform future pedagogical models. This ‘museum’ sits alongside a display of Powerhouse collection objects explored through the project.
Housed in a temporary structure, a canvas tent, this museum was erected first on the grounds of Our Lady of Mercy College, and later at the Powerhouse Castle Hill, alongside a display of Powerhouse collection objects explored through the project. As ‘caretakers’ of the Museum, the project participants were encouraged to share the project with their peers and school community, by inviting them into the tent and engaging in reciprocal knowledge exchange rooted in dialogical and material practices.
How do we question our perspectives on the history of education? Who is this history for? What is its purpose? How do we question the complexities of the lockdown narrative? How do we question why we think certain ways or are taught certain ways? How do we know that these ways are correct or most accurate? Am I the only one having a spiritual experience of this?
Five Shared Findings (Facilitators)
Acknowledging the classroom as artwork, and people as the material enables a complex reimagining of our spatial, relational, and societal dynamics. The needs of the human body must be met. Comfort is vital for effective learning. Snacks are essential! It takes time to empower learners to recognise their agency. Saying ‘you have control over this space’ is not the same as empowering learners to act on that statement. We can create endless versions of ‘flexible classrooms’ and ‘flexible furnitures’ but without the impetus to disrupt architectures, satiate the needs of diverse learners, relinquish control and welcome surprise – the efforts are redundant. Enabling dialogue to flow through the material (weaving) unlocks freedoms in negotiation, conversation and connectivity; resulting in reciprocal learning opportunities and slippery exchanges.
Materials: A4 paper, pens or pencils.
This is a collective mind mapping activity. Seat a group of learners in a circle. Each person has a piece of paper and a pencil.
Give the group a question, or provocation. Each person must write (or draw) something within 10 seconds that relates to the provocation. Then, they pass their paper to the person to the left.
Repeat until the pages are filled, or the minds are exhausted.
Observe your collective mind maps. Comment on commonalities, repeated ideas, unusual connections.
Fold the mind maps into paper planes.
Climb to a high place. Launch them into the air. Allow your gathering(s) to take flight!
Suggested provocations: Who do we learn with? Where do we learn? What do we learn with?
The Hidden Lessons project was developed and led by Lleah Smith, Artistic Associate, Powerhouse in collaboration with Nadia Odlum, Artist in Residence, Parramatta Artists’ Studios
Katherine Baker, Avria Bergado, Isobel Cassin, Siobhan Cassin, Evie Dean, Sara De, Belin Sathwika Dontula, Stefanie Gabriel, Nimrat Kang, Stella Kemmis, Leah Kolosakas, Selena Madrio, Emma Marounm Chloe Nguyen, Rhianna O’Neill, Izzy Power, Vidushi Trivedi, Jennifer Wang
Matthew Esterman, Director of Innovation and Partnerships Ben Walsh, Head of Department, History/HSIE