We all have relative strengths and weaknesses, and one way to look at those is through the lens of the Studio Habits of Mind. As for me, I’m a pretty good envisioner. I make a lot of plans and love to think through possibilities. And I can reflect, and over reflect, and over reflect on my over reflecting. On the other hand, I could benefit from some better observational skills. That’s something I know about myself generally, but also became really apparent to me as I sat down to watch my queue of YouTube videos recently.
I’m a knitter and so my corner of the YouTube world includes fiber related podcasts. This includes the Wool, Needles, Hands podcast by Tayler, a knitter who hand dyes gorgeous yarn and owns an Indie yarn dying business. Recently, Tayler chronicled how she dyes colorways for her Bird in the Hand series of sock yarn sets. Each month, she creates a colorway inspired by a bird. This month is the crowned crane, which is pictured here.
I normally look at these bird photos and think, “oh, pretty” and describe it with my short list of superficial adjectives:
It’s brown, black, orange.
There’s some mohawk action happening.
Generally Thanksgiving turkey shaped.
And then, eventually…
I don’t know... It’s a bird.
I see things, but as usual, I don’t see with the same level of detail as Tayler (or really, any other human with eyes) does. My eyes don’t want to slow down and I have trouble focusing on visual images. But within about 30 seconds of talking about the bird photo, she begins her descriptions of the “deep, creamy grey.” And I think,
Oh, hey, you know, that is grey. And I guess it is sort of creamy up towards the neck.
Then she’s talking about poppy red.
I completely didn’t even take in the red details in my first looks. Throughout the five short videos, as Tayler makes decisions about dye colors and techniques, she refers to her inspiration of the bird photos and her close observations of what she sees.
Each time I watch these videos, I learn a little bit about how to slow down, how to deeply look, and get practice in noticing new things. For me, those are my weaknesses and so those are the parts of these videos that stick out to me. But observing is certainly not the only Studio Habit to be seen here. Because we see her whole process—from finding inspiration, to making a plan, to using technical skills and content knowledge to make decisions, to experimenting with new techniques, to reflecting on how the yarn has reacted to the dyeing process—we get a chance to see a variety of SHoM in action. Maybe if I were a bad envisioner, I would instead be amazed by the way Tayler plans out which colors she’ll use, when, and in what order. And if I had a hard time engaging in artmaking, maybe I’d instead be fascinated by how something as simple as a photograph can help get me going with my making process.
I am particularly susceptible to taking in these observation lessons from watching these videos because I am motivated to watch them. I’m choosing to do so, and I’m engaged. This is what I watch on YouTube for fun, yet because I’m watching a maker, I get to see examples of the Studio Habits, and also practice one of my weaker habits.
Not everyone’s a knitter, so yarn dyeing may not be everyone’s cup of tea. But what makers are your students viewing on YouTube? Students can steer you towards an endless array of content that they are already watching. Ask them to find you examples from YouTube, TV, stories they’ve read, that show one of the Studio Habits in action. The Studio Habits are always hiding in plain sight, and we can see them all over the place – in what new places can you and your students find them?
Jillian Hogan is a Ph.D. student in Developmental Psychology in the Arts & Mind Lab at Boston College. In her research, she uses mixed methods to investigate what we learn through arts education and how those findings align with public perceptions. Her primary research interest is the teaching and learning of habits of mind in visual art and music education. She taught for six years in schools that specialize in gifted, inclusion, and autism spectrum disorder populations. When she's not reading or writing, she can be found knitting, spoiling her cats, or playing the piano poorly. www.jillhoganinboston.com
How to cite this blog entry (APA 6th edition):
Hogan, J. (2019, May 11). Hiding in Plan Sight...Even on YouTube [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.studiothinking.org/blog/hiding-in-plain-sighteven-on-youtube