As universities close their doors, students stay home to adjust to their new ways of learning. It’s troubling, as they face a loss of community, loss of physical resources and perhaps many lecturers. This uncertainty begs the questions, how much will this impact their study? and do they have enough sufficient support to affirm their practices and future career prospects?
However, there are many incredible educators, creatives and artists who are trying to beam some light into the situation. We’ve been talking with one of those who are trying to make a difference – Christopher Algar, a London based senior designer at Design Bridge and a visiting lecturer for graphic design and visual communication at Lincoln University and Norwich University of Creative Arts. He’s started an initiative to help join up some of the missing links for students, by voluntarily offering one-to-one video mentoring sessions after work hours to support students. We’ve been asking Christopher how — if other practitioners are in a steady position — to follow his lead and for some words of wisdom for students who feel worried about the times ahead.
Arts education is often hands-on and bustling with a community of both learners and educators. Staying at home may mean losing momentum, accessibility and the spontaneity to play and that’s something that concerns Christopher. “With many students facing some form of isolation, it’s the lack of casual and playful interaction that I worry about”. Visiting tutors often bring that energy into university, providing an industry contact that students are able to bounce ideas off, but that entire network’s positions are currently on hold or being adapted.
Hope and opportunity
There’s no denying, these are tough times economically for most but, perhaps by offering students who feel disrupted the support now, it will allow them to recover faster. As Christopher says, “people need to come together, and we need pragmatism”. How could you offer your time or shine a light for learners?
It’s time to consider your own role, own position and whether you’re able to support those in need. “We’re collectively adjusting to a new way of working, and new ways of thinking – we’re creatives, after all! Working from home may mean that you free up 40 minutes usually spent on your commute”, Christopher suggests. With that in mind, that was time which often felt wasted and now it could be time well spent. Consider this as food for thought, “the impact your words can have on a student’s development is limitless”.
Whether learning has been impacted by closures, self-isolation, illness or social distancing measures; we hope that students reading this know there’s an abundance of support out there. Christopher offers some thought, “these are of course anxious times but rather than dwelling on its impact, much can be said for keeping positive and thinking of obstacles as challenges. Social media is flourishing with self-initiated projects. Strangers are connecting from everywhere across the world with each other in solidarity”. It’s about looking through the smoke and finding those opportunities.
He offers more words of encouragement for you too. “Self organise! Reach out, keep conversations going and get on the phone with your peers or set up online chat rooms. If you’re working from home, I suggest you get dressed. I for one don’t feel ready to work without my shoes on…”. Rightly so, you must start as you mean to go on. He also reminds us that Adobe has announced they are allowing their Creative Cloud licenses to be accessed by students from home at no additional cost to their universities.
Christopher and wife Laura shared with us the poignant words of Etel Adnan and it couldn’t be more relevant today: “The world needs togetherness, not separation. Love not suspicion. A common future, not isolation”.
With that in mind, we’d like to try and pair industry-based mentors with students in need of some support, reassurance and interaction during the coming weeks.
If you’re a creative professional and agree with Christopher’s sentiment, please fill in the mentor form here and we’ll be in touch soon to pair you up with some mentees. Don’t feel like there’s a boundary for entry here, if you have professional experience, at whatever level, we’re sure that your input could be of huge value.
If you’re a student and would be interested in short video mentoring sessions from industry professionals, please fill in the mentee form here and we’ll see what kind of response we get. If our community comes through, we’ll be in touch soon and get you hooked up. In the meantime, please stay safe, stay calm and try to think of ways that you can use this situation to your advantage. If you can develop a healthy home-working practice, you can get a lot done in the days that follow.
You’re not alone.