This January, nineteen students at the Harvard Graduate School of Education spent two weeks immersed in an intensive course on slow looking. The class was taught by OOEL co-director Shari Tishman. Linked in spirit to Out of Eden Learn’s theme of slowing down to observe the world closely, the purpose of the course was to help graduate students explore the connection between slow looking and deep learning.
The class activities took place in a variety of locations. One brisk January day was spent outdoors at the Arnold Arboretum, a research center and public park in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, where students spent several hours observing a single tree. Another day was spent in a lab at the Harvard Art Museums where students explored the complexity of everyday mechanical objects—first by carefully taking apart a discarded object (broken hair dryer, old phone, electric fan); then by looking at artworks in the museum related to the transformation of everyday objects (Louise Nevelson, David Smith, Willie Cole); and finally by using the parts of the disassembled objects to make assemblages of their own (imagine a large-mouthed monster with the jaws of a phone receiver. The activity was inspired by Project Zero’s Agency by Design project. The website lists several routines and resources available to all educators.
Toward the end of the course, a particularly memorable afternoon unfolded in the cozy interior of Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room: Students began by leisurely browsing its beautifully curated collection of poetry, and then settled in to listen slowly and repeatedly to an audio recording of Native American poet Layli Long Soldier reading her poetry aloud. (The Woodberry Poetry Room has an amazing archive of poet audio recordings freely available online in the Listening Booth.)
Several students in the course were professional educators, and they found that the principles of Out of Eden Learn—slowing down, sharing stories, making connections—resonated with their teaching goals. They left the course excited to introduce slow looking into their own classrooms, and excited to introduce Out of Eden Learn to new audiences. Learn more about the connection between slow looking and deep learning at Usable Knowledge, a digital publication of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.