I was fortunate enough to spend 2017-2018 working at the Ceramic Research Centre in the University of Westminster. A small department with a huge impact in the world of academic research on ceramics, both within the UK and internationally. Working under the guidance of Clare Twomey, Phoebe Cummings, Tessa Peters and Christie Brown, I deepened my professional practice by setting up the Bureau of Relational Learning, a one-year teaching post to re-engage the students of University of Westminster with clay, and help set-up up resources to broaden ceramic practice within the curricula.
I also used this time to reinforce my values as an educator by exploring pedagogical literature in the social sciences and ethnography. Relational learning encourages students and professionals to look beyond the boundaries of subject matter and fields and to develop unknown pathways to learning. For example, how does one tell a story through material, and can material be used as a language, or perspective, rather than as an outcome or finished work?
The role allowed me to explore how relational, non-hierarchical learning can produce transformative learning experiences and test my teaching methods with an enthusiastic set of students eager to know more about clay. After visiting the renowned KAOS Pilot Design Academy, an intense 3-day workshop on designing and facilitating learning activities in Denmark, I developed a new learning programme and toolkit for students of different disciplines to not only learn new techniques, but to exchange ideas, develop interpersonal skills and look at wider, cultural semiotics to help develop a personal and professional language.