Symposium at UNT takes a different approach at examining education

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 - 14:48

What: “Education as Experimentation:Possibilities Beyond Outcome-Based Learning,” a symposium for art educators, artists, designers, museum educators and philosophers, organized and sponsored by the University of North TexasOnstead Institute for Education in the Visual Arts and Design and co-sponsored by UNT-International and the department of philosophy and religion.

When: June 17–18 (Saturday-Sunday)

Where: Environmental Education, Science and Technology Building, 1704 W. Mulberry St.

Cost: Registration is free, but space is limited. Individuals can register by contacting Shay Youngblood at 940-565-2280 or


DENTON (UNT), Texas -- Registration is now open for a symposium at the University of North Texas that will tackle education issues through an unusual format.

“Education as Experimentation:Possibilities Beyond Outcome-Based Learning,” will take place June 17–18 (Saturday-Sunday) for art educators, artists, designers, museum educators and philosophers, with session leaders coming from as far as the United Kingdom.

This event will focus on what educators gain when they detach from the traditional grading system and other metrics and explore the moment of education itself.

“It’s a punk rock way to look at education, but it’s primarily rooted in serious scholarship and pedagogy,” said Peter Hyland, director for the event’s sponsor, the Jo Ann (Jody) & Dr. Charles O. Onstead Institute for Education in the Visual Arts & Design. “Featured scholars won’t put forward papers. Instead, they’ll invite attendees to participate in activities that have more in common with art-making or science experiments than with typical academic presentations.”

Hyland recently participated in a similar workshop at the annual National Art Education Association (NAEA) convention in New York City. UNT associate professor of art education Tyson Lewis – the driving force behind the symposium – and his frequent collaborator Daniel Friedrich, associate professor of curriculum at Columbia University, co-led the NAEA workshop in which participants were broken up into groups and given quantitative reports of students’ performance, such as standardized test scores and proficiency assessments.

“They distributed printouts of this information,” Hyland said. “Then they literally dumped a box of art supplies on the floor and told us to take that data, decontextualize it and reveal something new about it through a creative act.”

Hyland made a collage by manipulating and redacting elements of data to emphasize certain words and graphics. Other group members created sculptures. The separate groups then shared their work with each other and discussed their experiences making it.

“It’s taking elements of performance art and using them as critical scholarly tools,” Hyland said. “It’s much more of the avant-garde end of scholarship.”

According to Lewis, such experimental happenings are rare at conferences.

“Conferences are normally places where individuals go to learn about recent scholarship in a field – usually pretty formal, dry and boring. Daniel Friedrich and I are more interested in ‘hacking’ into the conference and transforming it into a different kind of space – one that is more interactive, exploratory, surprising, disruptive and fun.”

Lewis and Friedrich will each lead sessions at the UNT symposium, along with 10 other distinguished scholars. Afterward, the organizers plan to generate peer-reviewed publications and reports and to make documentation of the proceedings available to the public.

This type of scholarship is currently more prevalent in Europe than in the U.S., and representatives from Brunel University, Catholic University of Leuven, Liverpool Hope University and Manchester Metropolitan University will be there.

Hyland said standard evaluation of education usually takes quantitative forms and centers on what students produce, such as grades.

“But does that give us a complete picture of what a student goes through when he or she is studying, creating, observing or analyzing? More deeply, what is actually occurring during the activity of learning which can’t be expressed through a grade? What can we learn about grades and other metrics when we look at them differently? This is the occasion to think through these questions.”

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108