Studios in our lives

What roles can studios play in education or, more generally, in personal and professional development?

A. My initial thinking on this question starts by identifying three kinds of studio:

1. A space for the practitioner or artist or professional to be focused on one’s own creative or generative work.

(The tools are all there and distractions are reduced [as in “don’t open your email in the morning”].  “Tools” here is metaphorical—the toolkit may include many of the creative habits and other processes that help in Taking Yourself Seriously.)

2. A space where the practitioner or artist or professional works with apprentices.

(Taking the step of recruiting apprentices is a further step in Taking Yourself Seriously, as is designing how to supervise them.)

3. A space where teams work together on a project.

(“Space” is metaphorical, including virtual collaborations, such as Collaborative Explorations.  The character of the collaboration may vary, as is evident in variants of Project-Based Learning.  However, again, tools are provided and distractions are minimized during the focused worktime.)

B. My colleagues Felicia Sullivan and Jeremy Szteiter, among others, emphasize the need for people to “build confidence to know what one wants to inquire into.”  The practitioner or artist or professional should arrange ways to foster this confidence-building among the apprentices and other participants of studios of types #2 & #3.  A prerequisite for the practitioner doing this fostering would be, I suggest, Taking Yourself Seriously through work in a studio of type #1.

C. My frequent reference to Taking Yourself Seriously invites elaboration.  I suggest, for now, that this involves finding the “vertical unity” of elements upon which or from which change flows naturally.  The method for exposing and clarifying such elements and their organization needs to be explored and articulated.  Some possibilities include:

a. Remembering Conversation with outsider witness retelling

b. Clearness Committee

c. Drafting and revising a professional bio for a project you really want to undertake

d. Finding your vocation (as described by Parker Palmer in Let Your Life Speak).

e. Mapping workshops

f. Scaffolding

g. Support circles

h. Other? (Suggestions welcome)


About Peter J. Taylor
Peter Taylor is a Professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches and directs undergraduate and graduate programs on critical thinking, reflective practice, and science-in-society. His research and writing focuses on the complexity of environmental and health sciences in their social context, incl. Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement (U. Chicago Press, 2005) and Nature-nurture? No (2014, On reflective practice, see Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research & Engagement (with J. Szteiter, 2012,

3 Responses to Studios in our lives

  1. Pingback: Some thinking on creative and transformative education | Probe—Create Change—Reflect

  2. Pingback: Current Exploration on Creative and Transformative Education | Felicia M. Sullivan

  3. Pingback: Foundation of critical thinking as processes-in-context 2 | Probe—Create Change—Reflect

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