I began constellation feeling a little anxious, primarily due to my lack of confidence at writing. I came to understand very quickly that it is a very different style of writing to what I am accustomed to and for that reason has been a large learning curve for myself. Nonetheless, I went in with enthusiasm and an open mind.
My first study group was Things Can Be Otherwise lead by Prof. Clive Cazeaux; having never had any interaction with Philosophy before, it was all very much a new venture. The first few sessions were interesting and provoked me to think about what was discussed long after the session had ended. Questioning the very fundamentals of knowledge and technology was quite interesting as they are a part of our everyday lives. An example of this was when we discussed Plato’s theory that Art simply imitates and deceives the eye and that people may mistake the copy for the real thing. Whereas, Nietzsche believed that Art was a form of representation and revealed the way people perceived the world.
However, as the sessions progressed I felt my enthusiasm beginning to deteriorate as I felt that there was a lot of information, text, names and dates given to us that I simply could not digest. I would feel confused from the sessions and so a way I tried to handle this was to review my notes and transfer them on to my blog to try and gain some control and structure. This did help, however, I still felt a slight element of confusion, partly due to the fact that I was not enjoying the study group, in reflection this clearly plays a large role as without enjoyment you cannot fully engage in the subject – this is something to note for future writing.
I think that what made the experience even more difficult was my inability to create any connections between what I was learning in the study group and my practice. For example, learning about What is knowledge? was a session dedicated to exploring the nature of knowledge and the nature of the self. This had no impact upon my practice and I struggled to understand its relevance.
I feel this reflected in my formative essay and feedback. The main points raised within my writing was that I did not remain focused enough within the essay. After reading my feedback and reviewing what I had written, I could understand Clive’s comments. I believe this came down to a lack of planning and not fully understanding what I was trying to say throughout. For future essays I will endeavour to complete thorough research around my topic and will select a specific area within that subject to focus on. I will also continually ask myself what the essay is about and what each paragraph is adding in order to try and keep my focus throughout. I find one of my weaknesses lies in rambling which causes a lack of relevance within the overall essay.
With my second study group; The Body lead by Ashley Morgan, I thoroughly enjoyed each lecture and would look forward to the next. In reflection to this study group I have started to think about how what I do affects the body and how it directs it. I can see more relevance between this study group and my practice, for example, graphic signs can cause the body to be directed to do something or go somewhere. I am therefore trying to create more connections between my practice and what I’m learning in order to strengthen my skills and ideas.
From my previous study group, I realised that I did not understand what the texts were trying to convey as I found the choice of language difficult to understand. To improve this for the second study group, I read the piece of text a minimum of three times and any words that caused confusion I looked up to ensure that I fully understood it, thus allowing me to be prepared for each lecture. This will also be good practice for when it comes to writing my essay as I believe that was one area that let me down for my formative piece.
Speaking generally, I have found time to be a weakness of mine, trying to balance work with projects, blogging and constellation has been difficult. I feel I have managed to keep on top of everything, but I have prioritised my practice as that appeals to my interests more. To improve I aim to dedicate a certain number of hours each week to constellation to ensure that I am continually improving my writing and reading skills.
I can see a progression in the way I now tackle constellation. For example, when I began the term I was not very efficient with my work. Fast forward to now and I manage to complete my work at a quicker pace, giving me more time to review it and implement any improvements. After each lecture, I now make a point to review and blog about the session that evening as it’s still fresh in my mind and therefore ensure’s that I understood the session. Another example is that in regards to finding sources and texts, I struggled for the formative essay but in preparation for the summative essay I have booked an appointment with the academic librarian and am making the most of sources available – particularly met search. I am also now dedicating more time to searching for relevant texts and sources.
Overall, I understand that constellation is designed to broaden our minds and think further than just our practice, and when I am exploring something that interests me, I do find it enjoyable and refreshing. It allows me to explore new subject areas and new ideas. I have mostly learnt throughout the year that preparation and practice is key to improving my writing. I have definitely improved my preparation skills, as I already feel more prepared for the summative essay than what I did for the formative essay. However, I do think that I still need to practice writing more in order to develop the rhythm of writing academic style essays and understand their structure.