BDK Award: Sandra Waldforst - "Read, Repeat, Delete in the Learning Factory"

2022-05-29 In her Master's thesis "Collaboration in the Artistic Field of Action - Collaborative Work in the Classroom as an Artistic Field of Action" in the teacher training programme for the subjects of art and mathematics, Leuphana alumna Sandra Waldforst questions the conditions under which an aesthetic-artistic practice can be generated in a highly regulated education system. The BDK Fachverband für Kunstpädagogik e.V. and the Landesfachgruppe Kunstpädagogik Niedersachsen awarded her for her work.

[Translate to Englisch:] Sandra Waldforst ©Sandra Waldforst
Sandra Waldforst in the film project ‚Als Kunstwerk ABGELEHNT‘ (2021).

In various school internships she completed as part of her studies, the Berlin-born Waldforst recognised a pattern: "Read, Repeat, Delete - a lot of learning content is absorbed superficially, dully repeated and forgotten after a while." According to Waldforst, schools are like learning factories: "In the synchronised school system, there is little room for learners to develop or further their knowledge of subjects. Art lessons are also designed with this in mind and are mainly based on individual work." In her master's thesis, she proposes collaborative and artistic art education as a possible solution to generate a shared, artistic creative process. "Learning requires an exchange of different knowledge, skills and knowledge structures. In the design process, these perspectives can be potentiated and uncover unpredictable ways of designing that take participants beyond the limits of their own design possibilities."

For her master's thesis, Waldforst investigated the concept of collaboration in the field of artistic action and analysed the film project 'Als Kunstwerk ABGELEHNT' (2021) with regard to collaborative structures. This short film thematises a factory-like work: a chain of rotating, endless productions. The 13 students, including Waldforst, practice a different course of action and developed it in the 3rd master's semester of the project volume "Aesthetic Operations #Dense Descriptions" with Prof. Dr. Pierangelo Maset at Leuphana University Lüneburg. "Due to the reduction of the project band in the last winter semester 2021/22, such larger projects will unfortunately no longer be possible," says Waldforst.

At the end of the Master's thesis, Waldforst developed an art-based collaborative teaching practice. Waldforst aims for collaborative work in which all learners are given the chance to develop freely and make their own decisions. The teacher should fade into the background. "It requires a gradual introduction that children learn to work collaboratively. In this way, the learners do not fall into powerlessness structures - are not restricted in their creativity."

Consequently, Waldforst received the BDK Award for the "outstanding master's thesis in art education" from the BDK Association for Art Education. The prize is awarded annually to the best Master's theses in the field of art education in the state of Lower Saxony.

Even into her last semester, Waldforst advocated for students in the field of education in faculty meetings and for a freer design of the degree programme. She has been a teacher in the preparatory service since February 2022. "In that time, many art projects have already been created." Waldforst kicks off collaborative design in the classroom with a collaborative piece that is designed by one child each week, presented in class, and passed on to another child.