Articles by author: gminaker

  • Health Sciences students learn to confront personal biases

    Though she may have appeared to be relaxing on a bench, Larissa DellaVentura was hard at work trying to see the world through the eyes of those around her.

    The third-year Medical Sciences student recently completed an observation exercise where she evaluated the behaviours of people while sitting in a public space and maintaining physical distancing. However, her preparation to complete the exercise started a few days earlier from the comfort of her home office.

    To become accustomed to observing the actions of others while also factoring in circumstances that are not initially obvious, DellaVentura and her Health in Canadian Society class completed an online experiential learning activity designed to heighten their perception of people’s body language as well as their own unintentional biases.

    In order to ensure the activity was completed in a physically distanced manner, local theatre company Mirror Theatre, which is mostly comprised of Dramatic Arts students and alumni, led the class through a virtual exercise that involved analyzing prepared photos and the body language of participants, while also attempting to make assumptions based only on what they had seen.

    “It really demonstrated how we have our own biases and our own unique perspectives,” said DellaVentura of the exercise. “Even as we were looking at the same pose on our screen, some interpreted it as embarrassed, while others believed the person was praying.”

    The course’s instructor, Assistant Professor Valerie Michaelson, said the lessons of empathy and self-reflection the exercise promoted are critical for aspiring health professionals.

    “When we are in professions in the health and medical sciences and don’t take the time to examine our biases, it can very literally be deadly,” she said. “This observation assignment also helps us to see how easy it is to make assumptions about why people have the health experiences they do. When we start to really pay attention, we see that some neighbourhoods have access to safe parks and fresh, affordable produce, but others just don’t. We start to consider how health is about a lot more than self-discipline, and that some of the most important health choices we make are often shaped by matters that are outside our control.”

    In addition to the broadened perspectives experienced by students taking part, those leading the exercise were also able to participate and grow.

    “We successfully accomplished our goal to assist us all in playfully and critically exploring our implicit perspectives on how we read the world,” said Mirror Theatre Artistic Director and Brock Professor of Drama in Education and Applied Theatre Joe Norris. “Feedback from a number of participants indicated that they became more aware of the assumptions that they make.”

    Mirror Theatre member and Brock graduate Bernadette Kahnert (BA, BEd ’19) said her team learned valuable lessons about their own assumptions when it came to online instruction.

    “The workshop was very informative of what can be done online,” she said. “It showed me that remote learning can open up doors I would not have in a traditional face-to-face atmosphere and has given me hope that I can still deliver an in-depth, reflective and educational experience.”

    Once the online portion wrapped up, DellaVentura put the reflective skills she learned to the test in a north-end St. Catharines plaza.

    As an aspiring physician, she said the exercise has encouraged her to look within herself while also being more aware of the circumstances of those around her.

    “We all have our own implicit biases that we may not even be aware of,” she said. “As a health-care professional, it’s important that we confront those biases and not let them influence our decisions.”

    Along with DellaVentura, some members of the class have chosen to safely visit outdoor public spaces, while others have decided to observe from their windows or through other means.

    Regardless of where they chose to conduct their observation, Michaelson is confident that the exercise will have a lasting effect.

    “These exercises light a flame in people, and it grows into something that is long-lasting and transformative,” she said. “We want our students to be leaders in the health-care system who have the skills to identify inequities so that they can then participate in the urgent work of dismantling them.”

    To learn more about Brock’s experiential education programs and in-class workshops, visit the Experiential Education website.

    Mirror Theatre is recruiting new participants from the Brock community with an online orientation meeting on Wednesday, October 7 from 5:15 to 6:45 p.m. Anyone interested in participating is asked to contact Norris at jnorris@brocku.ca for login instructions.

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    Categories: Announcements, Current Students, Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, Future Students, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Dramatic Arts graduate’s web series selected for digital innovation grant

    Image:Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) graduate Marley Kajan (BA ’14) and Connor Ferris, co-creators of new web series Like Comment Subscribe.

    (Originally FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 | by 

    Marley Kajan (BA ’14), who majored in Dramatic Arts during her time at Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, has good reason to celebrate.

    Last week, it was announced that the web series she co-created, Like Comment Subscribe, has been selected for the Canada Council for the Arts and CBC Digital Originals initiative. Kajan noted she and her co-creator, Connor Ferris, are honoured to be recipients of the grant and are excited to kick-off production of their pilot.

    Like Comment Subscribe follows millennial influencers and BFF’s Meaghan and Avery, who seem to have it all: fortune, fame and followers,” said Kajan. “But when COVID-19 sends their lives into lockdown, the impact begins to reveal the people behind the profiles.”

    In addition to co-creating and co-writing the web series, Kajan, alongside Ferris, will play the two leading roles. In partnership with the CBC, the series will be produced by Hamilton and Toronto-based production company Dei Gratia Pictures.

    Kajan, a bright talent in the Canadian dramatic arts scene, originally hails from Welland. Graduating with a concentration in Performance, she achieved First Class Standing. She was recently invited by the Department of Dramatic Arts to virtually perform for this year’s orientation, inspiring the next generation of students for what promises to be a historic year ahead for the arts.

    “The CBC’s Digital Originals initiative funded by the Canada Council aims to assist artists as they pivot their work, or create new original work, for online distribution as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” writes the Canada Council for the Arts. “While many artists are discovering new performance platforms, the creative team behind Like Comment Subscribe will certainly help forge the path to bring compelling stories to audiences across Canada, and beyond.”

    This story was written by Gillian Minaker.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Events, In the Media, Media Releases, News, Uncategorised

  • Brock hosts virtual arts conference for future teachers

    Image description: The 10th annual Arts Matter event took place online this year, bringing together approximately 40 teacher candidates for additional professional development in dance, music, drama and visual arts.

    (Originally published in The Brock News TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2020 | by 

    Brock University’s annual Arts Matter: Integrating the Arts Across the Curriculum conference is a highlight of the year for teacher candidates. This year, the opportunity to dig into the arts may be more meaningful than ever.

    Designed to give teacher candidates additional professional development in teaching four art forms, Arts Matter is the only conference of its kind in Canada. It was launched by Shelley Griffin, Peter Vietgen and Kari-Lynn Winters, who are all Associate Professors in the Faculty of Education.

    When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the three to reconsider holding the event, now in its 10th year, they decided to hold it online because of how important the arts are both in the classroom and in times of crisis.

    “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw how children, parents and caregivers were creating art in all of its forms to help cope with the anxiety we are all continuing to experience,” said Vietgen.

    “In these uncertain times, we are committed to the needs of our teacher candidates and to continued teaching and learning in the arts,” added Winters. “The arts make us human. During these historical moments, we need humanity more than ever.”

    The organizers hoped the conference would allow teacher candidates to tap into the arts for their own benefit while also building their capacity to teach these subjects in the future. On Sept. 16, approximately 40 teacher candidates participated in dance, music, drama and visual arts sessions. The sessions, which took place on Microsoft Teams, were facilitated by Ontario educators who are experts in teaching the arts.

    “We commit to exposing teacher candidates to all these art forms through additional professional development early in the instructional year so they can integrate their learning into their Bachelor of Education program and their practicum experiences,” said Griffin.

    Through these sessions, teacher candidates explored integrating the arts across the curriculum with a special focus on teaching and experiencing the arts through distance learning and using technology in teaching of the arts.

    “I chose to participate in this conference because I wanted to understand how the arts could be taught in an online platform,” said Elwin Anthonypillai (BA ’20), first-year Consecutive Teacher Education student.

    He thinks the Arts Matter sessions helped prepare him as a future teacher by providing resources to consult when writing lesson plans as well practical experience of how to blend different course materials with the arts in meaningful and exciting ways.

    “I feel much more confident in my future as a teacher because I feel I have a great foundation to build on with art courses, regardless of if my classroom will be online or in person,” he said.

    Building the confidence of teacher candidates is one of the goals of Arts Matter. The teacher candidates who participated will teach the arts as grade K to 6 or 4 to 10 teachers. This can be intimidating for those without experience in the arts.

    “I knew I had to step outside my comfort zone and become more knowledgeable on arts topics,” said Kailey Peirson (BSM ’18), second-year Consecutive Teacher Education student. “I have added more lessons to my teacher toolkit and feel as if I could walk into a classroom of any grade and teach at least three concepts from [the session],” said Peirson.

    Each session included just 10 participants to ensure everyone had a chance to interact. In some sessions, teacher candidates were able to work in groups of three or four in virtual breakout rooms.

    As well as engaging in activities, teacher candidates were also able to learn new tools or innovative practices using familiar tools to create engaging lessons for future students.

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  • Upcoming: The Department of Music virtually attends Royal Conservatory of Music College & University Music Fair 2020

    The Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts at Brock University is excited to virtually host future musicians at their online booth! The Royal Conservatory College & University Fair is going virtual this year. Set for October 3, 2020, registration is FREE. It has never been easier for future students to learn about the programs offered, admission requirements and much, much more. See you there!

    Register for free: https://bit.ly/2ZS1cLR

    To learn more about the programs offered through the Department of Music at the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, drop by our degree programs page.  

     

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  • New podcast challenges ideas of history of Western art

    (Including content published FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2020 | in The Brock News by 

    A new podcast hosted by Associate Professor of Visual Arts Linda Steer will guide listeners through the canon of Western art with provocative critiques.

    “Unboxing the Canon,” which launched Sept. 9, will connect the past to the present through critiques of the canon and explore what might not be immediately apparent in Western art.

    “We might be seduced by the pretty packaging, such as soft brush strokes, brilliant colours, grand gestures, expert carving, even traditional iconography of art,” says Steer. “But what happens when we take a deeper look? When we open the packaging and see what might have been invisible, or what is a cultural blind spot?”

    The podcast is part of Steer’s course material for VISA 1Q99: Introduction to the History of Western Art, but is also publicly available on AppleGooglePodbean and Spotify.

    The course contemplates big questions about art, such as the connections between museums and the history of Western colonization and imperialism, and who gets left out of the history of western art. Steer will be using the work of contemporary artists, such as Cree artist Kent Monkman and Black American artist Titus Kaphar, alongside traditional Western art to investigate themes of power, imperialism, race, gender and appropriation.

    Steer was concerned about the amount of time students may spend in front of their computer screens during remote learning.

    “The podcast provides students with a much needed break from computer screens,” she says. “A podcast is portable. Students can take a walk while listening. Moving away from the screen allows us to contemplate, a necessary activity when considering those big questions about course material.”

    The podcast will be included in Brock Library’s digital repository, along with episode notes and transcript, so it can be found through Google Scholar and OMNI search.

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