Who are you?
Start with demographic data about yourself.
I am a mid-30’s Caucasian male, no children, a full-time student working on a second degree, working part-time and live in a rural area but looking to move to the city.
Think about who you are becoming. This is a little harder. Think about who you were when you started school. Now think about some of the changes you have noticed in yourself since you have started college. Where do you think this might take you? Who would you like to become?
I had a very unsatisfying career as a draftsman for almost 11 years. I decided to return to school to seek out a career I found more creative and more rewarding. I started my IUPUI career as a very scared individual. The students in the Media Arts and Science program are very talented, to the point of being intimidating. Having to come up with my own ideas has never been a strong suit in my career. However, over the past year, I have learned the rewards of coming up with ideas and/or finding inspiration from seemingly unlikely places. My classmates and my instructors have taught me how to find inspiration from being intimidated by others’ creativity.
A few changes I’ve notice while pushing my limits creatively is who I am and where I come from. I’ve had to face some inner demons in order to complete a project or while listening to another student tell a story about their past. In this I’ve become very comfortable with who I was and who I am now; I can finally envision the person I want to be. I’ve never been afraid to try a project just beyond my current skill level and fail at it. But since starting this degree program, I now relish the chance to push my skills even further beyond my current skill level since I have new resources of knowledge in fellow classmates and instructors.
In choosing my drafting career, I believe I was very close to the idea of who I wanted to become. A technician – someone who helps others ideas come to life. The engineering world was not the correct place for me to be this person, but that past experience did teach me that this path of wanting to help people bring ideas into being was one I’m passionate about.
Why are you here?
Why are you in this class? I know we discussed this on the first day, but why did you not drop the class? Why are you still here? Then broaden this question and look at why you are in the MAS? What brought you here? What keeps you here?
I took the class because I’ve always felt I’ve struggled to be creative. A class that is an experimental approach to creativity sounded like the perfect thing to help me to learn how to access the creative portion of my being that I know exists. I didn’t drop the class because I fell in love with it from day one and couldn’t wait for each class meeting thereafter. Seeing Sideways taught me that some of the techniques I’ve used in the past to find my creative side are really good techniques. The class also taught me how to refine these techniques to become more efficient at accessing my inner creativity.
I’m in the M.A.S. program because I feel it will be the career I’ve been looking for. A technician helping others bring their ideas to life, while at the same time having to access my own creativity in order to overcome challenges and/or problems in these projects. What originally brought me to IUPUI was two very simple things: I was unhappy in my current career and wanted to seek out a new one, and I was unhappy that I only have an Associate’s degree. I really want a Bachelor’s degree just to prove to myself that I can earn it. The thing that keeps me in the program is the challenge each class brings to me. Each class I’ve taken has pushed me to grow into the creative problem-solver I want to be. I love the stress of working on three different projects at once and love that I’ve been able to intertwine some of these projects in ways I never expected to be able to do.
What would you change?
Now that you have considered who you are and why you are here, think about your path in school. Is it what you expected? Is there a clear path that you can see that makes sense to you? What are the limitations you face with achieving your academic goals? What are the opportunities you have been given because of your academic experiences thus far? How many of your academic limitations are self imposed? How many are completely beyond your control?
My path in the program is still undefined to me. I love learning about anything and everything that interests me. One limitation I’ve come across is the administration telling me I “have to graduate in 4 years.” This frustrates me because I know very well that the school gets some incentive money from the state if I graduate in four years and not in five years. So, in reality, I feel that perhaps the school doesn’t really have my best interests at heart; they just want money.
However, with every negative there is a positive. Without the proper funding, the MAS program wouldn’t have some of the fine instructors that they have. Those instructors, in turn, have contacts in the industry I’m seeking to be in.
How would you reimagine your academic world?
Create a plan that would be the perfect solution for you to achieve your academic goals. The sky is the limit. Don’t worry about practical considerations at this point. Create what would be ideal for YOU and try to look at the things in a new way.
The perfect academic world would be having instructors who have real world experience and are willing to share the secrets of how the industries we are seeking to be in truly work. The building itself would promote students to be creative. No more plain white walls, no more square desks all in a row and no more plain carpets in each room. To be creative we, as students, need a creative space. Being shoved into a white walled, square room and then asked to come up with something inspiring and creative is like shoving a neurosurgeon into a death metal concert and asking them to concentrate and not make a mistake. Having a place like MARLA for everyone to use to become inspired would be the ideal place. I want to approach all of my projects, serious to goofy, from a place of “fun.”
How do you think this perfect academic world could be implemented in the real world?
Now that you have brainstormed, it is time to offer some realistic solutions. Looking at what you answered for the pie in the sky part, and see what could realistically be suggested. Try looking at these ideas with a very critical eye, and also from many different angles. Are there any creative solutions that you can find?
My idea of a more inspiring environment is actually achievable. Different colored paint and new carpet is easy enough to come by. Even changing the color of the black chairs in the lobby areas to a few different colors is easy. I understand that black shows the least amount of dirt, but why not navy blue, dark brown, or even dark red? The MAS school has a huge resource of talented artists. One idea I have is to hold a mural contest each year and give a wall in one of the rooms to the winner to paint their mural on. Make it a team painting experience to build unity throughout the school. Developing another type of space like MARLA, but instead of it having expensive equipment it, the space is more of just lounge area. Perhaps the top four contest winners can paint those walls in this lounge space each year? Even changing the room number placards to different colors according to the floor they are located would be something different to create a more exciting environment.
Translate this exercise to other aspects of your life.
Can you make this exercise into a tool to help you approach other things in your life? Your projects? Your job? Your whole life?
For the final exercise please spend some time and critically think about these questions and write your answers to each question on your blog.
Yes, I can use this class, not just the assignment, to help me approach other things in my life. I’ve always questioned how and why I do things. This class has really taught me to ask the right questions and how to take a step back and actually find the answers. One important idea that Seeing Sideways has ingrained in me is that there are times when you need to please your audience and there are times when you only need to please yourself with a project. There are many things from this class that I will use for the rest of my life, but what they are specifically, I cannot say at this time. But, I do know that I’ve been given an enhanced set of tools to use and I will use them.