” Socio-Political art is used to help the public understand a particular social or political issue. ” (Chicago gallery news ; 2021)
Upon entering the PHmuseum 2021 grant award earlier today, it became necessary for me to tag my project submission. Along with the obvious education, home-education, homeschooling, I added the tag of socio-political art. It is a category I have been somewhat apprehensive about adding to my title. I do not want to alienate people from the work , mostly the home-educating community. The home-educating community know all to well the huge bias and challenges we face as a community (see my next post on PORTSMOUTH HOME ED GROUPS JUDICIAL REVIEW CHALLENGE) , and as much as I want to address this, I do not want to alienate my core demographic so all people see is a political fight. I also strongly feel this project is about celebration, and unification, it is about beauty and joy, and to attach a socio-political tag to the project , it somewhat erasing that I feel, even if ultimately, this is what the project is.
In the past week I have collected up the last of the consent forms for the project, so each participant has now verbally confirmed consent as well as written consent, and some participants I have written consent twice for (to accommodate the new section I put in referencing the video and audio useage, giving families veto over what I used of that) .
A couple of the families I have had to send out two or three revised videos to as I made adjustments as I wasn’t happy with the final video .
The below is the last iteration of Athene’s family’s video
However prior to this I had considered attaching the audio below . I love this audio , what we are talking about, and the unpicking of people’s thoughts and feelings around Home-Education and the reality of what some home-educating parents think and worry about. However, when I tried combining this I didn’t like the way it sat with the images. The conversation was SO interesting, but it was nothing really to do with Athene and her family’s home educating journey, it was full of universal topics, so I decided to delete the audio from the video, and instead to have it as a stand alone audio on the ‘ Heuristic Spaces ‘ page.
This is the first iteration of the video without anywhere near as much audio , it was only 2.5 minuets long as opposed to nearly 5 mins (as the final one is). This is something I am concerned about with this sphere of project, as there is SO much on this page, (with there being so many families in the project), that some people have noted it can be overwhelming, the sheer volume of work. I therefore wanted to try and keep the video’s slightly shorter, however, the more videos I create, the more I find I need longer versions to really get the viewer to know the family and their own personal reasons for home educating, and what that education looks and feels like to their family.
This , I decided was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I am aware that not everyone will look at, read, watch and listen to everything on this page, but thats ok, it is something they can dip in and out of at their own leisure, and return to time and time again.
On Saturday I designed a new video of Daisy and Lily’s (not their real names’) photo sessions I did with them in Nov 19.
Firstly, ‘Daisy and Lily’ asked if I could not use their real names, and they chose these names instead. Secondly, their mum asked if I could not use hers and her partners names as well.
In addition during the photoshoot, Lily requested NOT to have her face, as in recognisable face, in the images. Instead she wanted to have photographs taken from the side or behind. When I originally booked all these photoshoots in, I explained to both the parents and children, that this was a possibility if they wishes. Lily chose this, where as her mum and sister were not worried about it and were happy to have their faces in the images.
I observed this in their video.
In the next block in early 2020 the families in my project completed a short online survey for me , where I was trying to gain some basic facts and thoughts from all the project participants. This was the survey –
Daisy and Lily’s mum completed the form, stating I could use their responses either alongside the images or independently , but please don’t use their real names.
I added questions and quotes from their survey responses alongside their images , to compliment the various images.
As I had no audio from this session, or video, I have contacted the mum to see if she would like to ask the girls if they would like to record some audio to go alongside. The reason I did this, is I believe the audio makes the slideshow/videos much more interactive, personal and interesting to watch. There is a LOT of work on this website, and it needs to keep you engaged. If there were no audio on any of the slideshows I think this would be a very hard ask.
I suggested the girls could read the instructions for the science experiments they did in the photos, or , I sent them the link to the completed video without the audio, and said they could either record the girls reactions, or the girls could have a conversation about the images, and we can use that, as that is an education as well, discussing what was happening, or discussing the images. I did make it clear that there was no pressure to do this at all, that it was entirely the girls choices, whether they wanted to contribute as well as what. They have control over those choices. I am waiting to hear from them on this.
As their images are primarily about science, in addition I put a post out on a home ed group I am in, about science and home education. It is one of the main things (along with drama and sports) that people always act skeptical that you could do if you are home-educated, let alone successfully. I am usually greeted with huge amounts of skepticism when I explain one of my sons achieved 8/8/9 ( old style A*/A**/A** ) across the 3 sciences at only 14 and 15 as a home educated child, and each syllabus was completed and then the exam taken within 6 months (they usually just flat out don’t believe the last bit!). People just don’t understand. We are so conditioned to think science is only for a select few, the secrets of which are withheld form everyone else, the ‘laymans’. We , as a society, think you need labs and lots of expensive equipment and definitely a professor to impart dangerous secret knowledge on our children. These things have their place obviously, but they are by no means a necessary thing as lots of home-educators will tell you !
I have asked parents to share personal experiences of the public saying things like this to do with science to them, as I would like to share some of these alongside the images of this family literally up to their elbows in science on their dining room table.
In addition I have approached the online science tutoring service that my son used to ask them for a quote on this as well.
This is going to be a new experiment for me as all the other videos are specifically quoted from the people within them. I don’t want it to seem like I am putting words into this families mouths , so I will need to play with this a little. It may be that it needs to be a different video in the end. I am not sure yet.
I had a meeting with Jo from Exeter university this morning to go through the images for possible use as the main invite image to use on email invites.
We settled on the below image for a number of reasons, we thought this fit the brief criteria most accurately out of all the images I selected . These were, to show clear academic learning, with parental involvement, where the child was the focus of the image and learning. We wanted the image to be slightly traditional, as we thought if it was too alternative it would alienate people from attending potentially.
The academics group meeting is an online zoom meeting of academics researching various areas and avenues of alternative education. I will be presenting a short video compilation aimed at showcasing the variety of ways an education can happen outside the constraints of a traditional school setting. I will be making this video over the next couple of weeks to show on the day. Invitations are being sent out to relevant staff and interested parties connected to education through the government , and education specialists in the coming weeks.
Over the next week I plan to have a rough draft of the leaflet invite. I have said I will attempt this. I am not a designer, but for ease and control and finances I am going to attempt a design, but if I feel I cannot make it look professional enough I am going to supply the image and pass on to someone else instead.
Before Christmas I started experimenting with using screen printing to be able to convey some of the information I wish to in the project, surrounding the rules, laws and guidance around home education.
I tested printing onto paper directly, or onto photographs from the project .
For the purposes of the website, I will be using screenshots of the relevant documents and information.
For any print version of the project in exhibition or book format, I plan to use the original copy as a screen print. For the purposes of the web based project though, I will instead be using screenshots, as I think it convert to web better, and allows clearer viewing of the relevant information.
I am including the following because most people, even after the pandemic and being forced into pandemic home-schooling, do not realise that Elective Home Education is a right parents have under our laws in this country. They do not realise infact, that further than that, every person who has a child is the sole person responsible for their child’s education until the June following said child’s 16 birthday. When parents fill in the for to request a school place for a child, that is actually a legal document signing away your inherent obligation to educate your child over to the state.
When one opts to home-educate, all they are in essence doing is retaining, or reasserting that legal and default right of the parent under English law.
I am not yet decided whether I will use the screenshot from the PDF of the Education act 1996 above, which can be downloaded here https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/pdfs/ukpga_19960056_en.pdf , or instead whether I will use the screenshot below which is taken directly from the legislation website. My personal preference is for the PDF version as it is cleaner, clearer, and the lack of colour means you are drawn to the sections I have highlighted.
The highlighted sections are to draw the viewer to the most important of the information I am presenting, that demystifies elective home-education, and debunks myths around whether it is legal, whether you have to be a registered teacher to do it, whether you have to follow the national curriculum, and whether home-educated children must sit exams.
The following is two screen shots from the department of educations website , and the document they supply local authorities with entitled, ‘Elective home education, department guidance for local authorities. April 2019.’
This guidance I have chosen as it is instrumental in protecting the rights of the family to educate their child in a way outside of modern societies way of what the vast majority of people ‘think’ education looks like.
The major part of this guidance focuses on the parental right to autonomously educate their child and for that not to be a cause for concern. It outlines home-educators do not need to work at set times, days or periods (as long as a child’s education is meeting section 7 of the guidance above) . Nor does the education have to follow the national curriculum, set subjects, paths, and neither does a child have to take examinations of any kind.
It clearly states outcomes are what an education should be judged on.
I am yet to decide whether I will use the highlighted version on the website or not. I am going to upload them like this to begin, and then review in a week or two when I have received feedback on them.
Fig 2, Education act 1996. Available at https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1996/56/section/7
Fig 3, EHE guidance for local authorities. Assets publishing. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/791527/Elective_home_education_gudiance_for_LAv2.0.pdf (Accessed 04.02.2021)
Supervision log from meeting 5 with Wendy on 03.02.2021 , discussion and action points.
Date of Supervision Meeting
Start time of Meeting
Length of Meeting in minutes
Meeting Notes & Action Points
*yesterdays peer-to-peer meeting and advice given from ilya, raeann, hilde , isabelle and jasmin over the past week on my website.
*parent that wanted to remove consent and how I handled it. W, gave advice on additional consent forms to back up telephone call, which went in line with what I had done (new adapted consent form). Additional parent who I thought may remove permission if I asked them again, how I dealt with this and the outcome (positive)
*discussed this happening again potentially in the future at a more critical time.
*ethical approval during PhD’s and the ‘practice’ this gives for if I go through this.
*I have done an additional /secondary consent form to include my use of video and audio and how I will offer them veto on those portions of the project (this is because I never originally intended to use the audio recordings I made for this purpose.).
*secondary consent forms once the projects are finalised. (ACTION POINT – COLLECT ALL THESE IN)
* did website walk through with wendy. Explained choices on hosting, domain name , prophoto etc
* Artist statement. (ACTION POINT – work on 300 word summary of the work) good start but keep working on it. Especially last sentence. (ACTION POINT – Clearer language, consider what I am trying to say and explain more , do I want to use the word collaboration ? )
* the power of imagery in quantifiable academic research
*PDF and how to narrow it down & distill to most powerful parts (ACTION POINT CREATE A FIRST PDF MOCK) *w, advised synopsis, selection of images, screenshot, hyperlink, couple of interviews embedded/links for final PDF.
*w, liked the video with my voice over, thought it was effected *likes layout of video and sound is good *keep it simple, tiling is good for this
*Discussed falmouth art gallery exhibition, and doing a mock up of exhibition as it wont be open before end of MA.
*w, sees the work working very well in a gallery. select 6 of best / key images from each project and display as a grid on the pdf, then a gallery owner/curator would be able to see how they could display the work.
*Don’t let the photography collapse under the weight of the project and the research.
* I think your work is eminently adaptable. Grid of images, text and wall text ,
* edit a series of the interviews together that can be seen on a screen/monitor together
*ACTION DO MOCKUPS OF FALMOUTH EXHIBITION on pdf along with grids
*”visual research in a gallery is a really exciting thing to do”
*How do I express each project on one page (ACTION POINT ADD GOVERNMENT QUOTES/LEGISTALATION TO ADD CONTEXT TO THE WEBPAGES)
Date of Next Proposed Meeting
Following this meeting I thought for a long time about how to work through this issue of my displaying of the work not putting enough emphasis on the photography. Wendy discussed her thoughts around this for a while, about not loosing sight of the photography, that the research was important, but to not loose sight of what I was doing.
Interestingly we also discussed not doing something straight away when somebody suggests it, but waiting first, and sitting with it.
Wendy’s comments only echoed my own thoughts and concerns about the presenting in slideshows and videos . I love the slideshows, but I needed a more impactful way to present them, to give them the limelight , I think they deserve.
After thinking about this for a couple of days I decided to weave larger single images, into the pages of slideshows. The pages now consist of large full size images (as big as they can get on the website) alongside video slideshows showing combinations of images, parents talking, me reading the participants quotes and interview statements, written quotes and audio of the children working, playing, and discussing their education and lives as home educators.
In addition to the above, because the research IS important, the reasoning behind what I am doing is the backbone of the project, I have started including screenshots of sections of legislation from the department of education, ofqual, the government, the children’s commissioner, and gov.uk . The purpose of this is to give clear concise information around the legalities of home education, whilst drawing attention to the fact that these are at very often at odds with the treatment individual families get from local authorities and government workers of all kinds, as well as professionals and the general public.
The work is about educating , in every sense.
EVENING CRIT WITH WENDY (was meant to be Dinu) 3.2.2021
Evening crit today was with Wendy as Dinu was poorly. I nearly didn’t go as I did think that given I had had a meeting with Wendy that morning the time could be given to someone else, but Wendy advised me to go still so I did. It was really helpful for me to talk about my project again and refine what I say when I talk about it. Also to sort some more thoughts out in my head.
Firstly Wendy asked me to talk about my audience, as I have a very specific audience in mind for my work. I obviously already knew the answer to this question, but just being asked the question and haven’t to articulate it, is a really good exercise. I spoke firstly, and fore mostly about the home educating community. Representing a wide variety of pedagogical practices and beliefs for both practicing home educators, as well as potential home educators. The idea behind this being, that this is almost a visual guide for these families of what it looks like for many people, and how many successful ways there are of educating. It is about taking down barriers to seeing what home education looks like, where the family remains in control of that all the time. Unlike when a local authority tries to encroach on your families private, personal, safe space – your home, this project enabled home educators to show the intricacies and beauty of their lives, under no pressure or coercion .
I then discussed my second audience, working with the academics , with an interest in alternative education, and our presentation to the education select committee, and the local authorities.
Here I went on a bit of a tangent as I explained the rights of citizens to not have anyone enter your home without just cause (the LA regularly tries to do home visits with families, this is fine where a family wants this, but many families do not, but are pressured into it with threats of school attendance orders if they don’t comply) , even the police cannot enter your home without a legal reason. So, when the education select committee chair is stating that he believes home-educators should be mandated to be attached to a school , their child’s work accessed by a registered teacher, and for the council elective home education staff to be allowed to enter our homes and inspect them, there is a huge potential problem looming for our community. A lot of this is driven by fear and ignorance, fear of the unknown, ignorance of the reality of home education and what it looks like.
It is this my work attempts to break down. Whilst academics such as Jo Merrett at Exeter university and Amber Fenshem-Smith of the Open University are supplying quantifiable research in the form of research papers and surveys, I instead am producing a visual representation to use alongside these other forms of research, to add both accessibility and strength to them, just as their research adds strength to my own.
We then briefly discussed ethics, and discussing this in the proposal (and CRoP as well).
Wendy then went on to say “a really interesting and very complex and personal project, that clearly has ethical issues which Bekkie has had to explore, even in her proposal, because there is clearly an ethical component to this project, which she addressed” and discuss how important it is to discuss consent and ethics if this is a part on your work.
“but I think a really interesting project, that Bekkie has developed and identified these communities, especially in the academic collaborations as well. You know, the work is going to have real promise of influence. “Bekkie I really think an interesting example of a project where you are coming together with others, to really lobby I think, and effect change.” – Wendy McMurdo 03.02.2021 –
PEER TO PEER COHORT CRITTonights peer-to peer meeting was so useful and informative. When I first joined noone else had got there apart from Hilde and I so I had time to really show her my work and website in depth. As I was going through my work we were joined by three others.
PEER TO PEER FULL COHORT CRIT / PEER TO PEER CRIT WITH I & R
Tonights peer-to peer meeting (and the earlier one with I & R ) was so useful and informative. When I first joined noone else had got there apart from Hilde and I so I had time to really show her my work and website in depth. As I was going through my work we were joined by three others.
I explained my reservations about the way people had been reacting to it, and if I wasn’t explaining my work properly, and that was the issue.
We discussed lots of things, and I made quite a few minor alterations off the back of this meeting, that I think have hugely improved the look and feel of the website, as well as peoples understanding of my project.
The first thing is, this isn’t a ‘website’ in the traditional sense, it is not a portfolio of my best work. It is a full and true representation of all the work I have produced in the last two years, edited down into an in depth, cohesive study into home education. The main points that were made and the actions I took from them –
*The text was hard to read in places due to centre alignment and the font I was using was one that only used capitals.
(ACTION – I converted all text to a more traditional , easier to read font, increased the line break size to give the words and lines more room and left centred everything)
The title of the main projects, should they be studies, stories, or work? I & R thought studies, (but that was an issue as the whole project is ‘ A Heuristic Study’ and it may be confusing) H & J in the peer to peer thought it should be stories.
( ACTION – I tried both and in the end went for VISUAL-STUDIES , as it showed that it was where the photography was kept in the menu, but also retained the academic purposes of the project as well)
The drop down menu for the main projects is confusing, it keeps them separate and that doesn’t make sense.
(ACTION – I moved the three spheres – heuristic interlude, heutagogical home and heuristic spaces – out of the menu bar and then created a new ‘page’ entitled ‘ visual studies’. In this page I placed a three by one grid of the three projects where you could get a 1/2 line summary of the work and a picture from each project than then linked into each individual project. On this page I also put my artist statement for the overall project in both written text and audio format for accessibility purposes.)
The exhibition page was showing too much , it was overkill.
(ACTION – I deleted all but the best 2/3 images from each exhibition and resized them to make them all the same size and therefore more uniform and less cluttered)
The last suggestion/comment, was by far the most helpful, and probably should of been the hardest to hear. However, I was genuinely happy and respected the fact that H had been so honest. Her feedback was that the images were great, the videos were brilliant and made total sense. The artist statement was good and made sense, BUT , the two didn’t add up, the one thing didn’t equate to the other. She said she could hear what I was trying to say, but what I was showing them visually, wasn’t saying what I was saying in the artist statement. This was probably one of the most useful, and truthful pieces of feedback anyone has ever given me on the MA, but it didn’t offend me, upset me, or disappoint me . I respected the fact that H had given what must of been a quite hard piece of feedback to give, and I valued her opinion and respected her for giving it, as well as trusted her outside judgement. That night I edited my artist statement for hours. I couldn’t alter the project or the images, so for me, it was a case of needing to alter my artist statement to correctly and clearly show what I could see in these videos and in these families lives. I believe I have acted on this feedback superbly , as my artist statement has evolved a few times since, in a really short amount of time. It was also part of the catalyst to me including the DfE , Ofqual and LA screenshots to further contextualise the work.
There were also suggestions that I took on board but didn’t act on for various reasons, these were –
To put the full projects on a different website and only one video of each project on this website – I didn’t do this because it defeats my purpose of having a full indepth study all in one place. If it were a portfolio, this would make sense, but it isn’t.
To delete the summaries and titles off the grids and only have one line information such as ‘about the artists family’ . I didn’t do this as I think it is important that people can identify which project is which from the main grid page, but I want it to be personal, and too little information will have the opposite effect.
To change visual-studies , to visual-stories. I did actually do this but then changed it back again. As although these works are stories, they are so much more than that as well, and stories sells short what I have done and created.
To delete the audio of the artist statement. I haven’t done this as I believe hearing someone’s voice is good, it connects you, in a way that is hard digitally. This is a profoundly personal project, I want to ‘talk’ to the people looking at it. BUT it is much more than that, it is about accessibility. My project was a project about education, that in turn became an education in itself. Education should be accessible to ALL.
Wendy McMurdo, 03.02.2021 . Evening group critique, teams.
Project update – I have today finished designing, editing, compiling, titling, uploading to you-tube, embedding into the page, and updating blog posts, or all of the videos from the project ‘A Heuristic Interlude’.
I will use this space to update on how I found the process .
Fig 1, Graham, Bekkie. 2021. Screenshot, Finished video page ‘A Heuristic Interlude;