ACMA Board Member, Jennifer Wester (bio) presented a talk on
The Problematic Message of the Consumerist Aesthetic
for the 2019 Public Montessori Educators of Texas Conference
on Saturday, Oct. 26th, 2019 at the Magnolia Montessori For All
in Austin, TX.
This talk features a detailed walk through the unconscious influences exerted on students through visual aesthetics and work-flows that eliminate the student’s need to creatively problem-solve visual, material, and aesthetic issues. Wester leverages her professional experience as a multimedia artist and arts educator to analyze the creative environment of elementary and middle school assignments in relation to the digital push for ‘professional’ presentations. She encourages attendees to question the definition of professionalism and the many diverse purposes of aesthetic development and visual communication in educational projects. Wester believes that contrary to the desires of invested educators, the commerce-centric world that we live in is seeping into even the most well intended lesson plans in detritus ways that we must consciously break.
Below is an excerpt from the Wester’s handout for this presentation:
Hand-prepared Project report or presentation necessitate the following decisions:
What shape is my work presented in?
Do I want a geometric frame or curvy organic outline?
Should it be presented using a long narrow space or as a big cluster of information? What material will my content be made of?
Should all of my text be lined up to the left margin? Should I change alignment of my sentences?
Will this help reinforce my point?
Will alignment destract from my point?
Should I invent my own alignment, curving around other objects in my presentation?
Where should my text be place in relation to other objects?
In what sequence should my objects, images, or text be seen?
Have I created a layout that guides a viewer through everything in the order I intend?
Will I keep all of the writing the same size or should I try different sizes?
Should I print my letters or write in cursive?
Should I try new ways of drawing letters?
What thickness should my letters be?
Should I use different tools to make different letter weights?
What colors make the colors best suited for my presentation? What tools do I need to create those color effects?
What techniques do I need to create those effects/colors?
What will I make my background out of? How will that change the rest of the work?
Printed Presentation (i.e. Word/Pages) assignments compare:
Form is no longer a conscious choice as the standard page size is 8.5×11 (or other default)
Alignment decisions are preceivably reduced to one of 3: left, center, or right
Little to no conscious choice will be made to shift alignment from the default
Organization Strategies are left to the word processing program however, organization skills are still required to present the work in the proper order.Handwriting TEXT
Size is default most often selected and no lessons in the forming of larger or smaller letters
Script/print choice are limited to the font selection
Handwriting skills traded for typing skills
Line width is limited to the font selection
Color selections are in relation to a white background default and no difficulty or lessons in how to make the desired colors or apply them is of concern
Background Content is depending on the printing capabilities, background content may be of various types but no lessons on the challenges in creating such backgrounds will be faced (painting, pasting…)
Electronic Presentation (i.e. PowerPoint) lessons:
Form is no longer a conscious choice as the screen size is default
Alignment is all but dictated by themes
Organization skills are still required to present the work in the proper order but that order is always within a linear timeline
Handwriting skills are traded for typing skills
Size of lettering is dictated by theme
Script/print choice is dictated by theme
Line width is dictated by theme
Colors are dictated by theme
Background Content is dictated by theme