Today I’d like to talk about studying and what studying may bring about. To be more specific, I’d like to talk about a crucial meaning of the word study, a meaning which most of us are probably unfamiliar with and which indeed the whole Western world is unfamiliar with and has been for the past 300 years or so. It designates a whole understanding of what study involves and what study can bring about in students and it has fallen by the wayside, where it still lies forgotten, neglected and concealed under the detritus of 3 centuries. But if we clear away the undergrowth and remove the rubbish, we may find that it still shines as if new with a light that may illuminate the world and ourselves. It may even bring about a transformation in our knowledge, both of the world and of ourselves.
The creative project has been an extremely valuable part of the MA course for me. Within the confines of academic demands it is often difficult to move out of the head, indeed this has been one of the very unique challenges of the programme. The degree has offered a number of wonderful opportunities to tackle this issue by actively encouraging a more heart centred and intuitive approach to the content that we are facing here as students. To become more “…consciously aware of our intuitive process…” (Anderson, 2004, p.70) is a refreshing challenge to the more traditional approaches of academic research and engagement. But to be able to open the heart and engage our intuition in a manner that retains a level of conscious awareness and an ability to ‘see’ this process critically, is the real nature of the challenge we face as students. This represents new ground.
In deciding what to do for my creative project I was torn between doing something purely ‘personal’ and perhaps trying to express myself through a new medium and doing something connected to my professional life as an RE teacher. I chose the latter because I wanted my creative project to have implications wider than just the personal, and I wanted to explore ways in which my work on the MA could influence and transform my life and teaching. One of the areas of RE that I had been feeling increasingly passionate about since starting the MA was the issue of female spirituality and the divine feminine. I increasingly noticed a disconnect between my own understanding of spirituality and the experiences of the women around me, and the ‘religion’ I was teaching in the classroom. I was also inspired by the work of Kripal and McGilchrist in particular in their understanding of education and the learning process, and how in our institutions it has been increasingly dominated by empirical enquiry to the exclusion of the archetypically feminine qualities and processes like intuition, embodiment and creativity. I wanted my project to develop my understanding of female spirituality, as well as integrating it with my professional life. I also felt strongly about the representation of women in the RE classroom and wanted to address this as well.
Following the aims of transformational learning theory and using art as a means of expression I have attempted to do an exercise that showed how I have engaged with the materials presented in the MA course. At the beginning of my studies I was not familiar with most of the themes that are at the core of the MA programme, such as symbolism or divination. During these years of learning I have discovered and rediscovered different areas of knowledge that have impacted me in many ways and that have contributed, and will still be adding, to my growth as a person. Therefore I wanted to create something that reflected what the MA has meant for me. In my essay I will present a review of the process that lead me to create the collage I entitled “Looking out of my window”, attempting to explain its symbolism and the challenges I have faced while doing it.
“At the age of 45 my heart literally broke. A boyfriend finished a relationship unexpectedly and a few days later I suffered a heart attack. My understanding as an Arts Psychotherapist is that there is no delineation between mind and body, so it did not surprise me that my heart physically mirrored my actual emotions of grief and abandonment.”