Personal Development Plan

Within constellation, I have studied the subjects ‘Things Can Be Otherwise’ within the first term and ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ within the second term. They were each worlds apart in terms of content, with ‘Things Can Be Otherwise’ talking about objects and ideas in a philosophical way. Then in ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, I was learning about subcultures within the 21st Century. Both study groups allowed me to learn about subjects I wouldn’t have necessarily research about before, enabling me to find different contents to use within my studies.

Constellation in a broad sense has been enjoyable but it has been a real academic challenge. Prior to university, I did a two year art & design diploma course where I was not required to study any academic readings or complete essays of a word count any more that 1000 – so I haven’t done anything majorly academically challenging since GCSE level. Coming to university and having to read long lengths of readings and discussing topics that I know nothing about, it has been a real struggle and I have had to persevere a lot.

The study group ‘Things Can Be Otherwise’ was a particular challenge. The actual lecture sessions were really interesting and I have enjoyed debating about question’s such as: what is knowledge? Are we cyborgs? Though I enjoyed discussing these topics there were several times within the lectures where I was confused about what was being discussed and I struggled to understand some of the texts we were asked to read prior to the lecture. The readings we were given were written by highly academic and sometimes ancient philosophers, which use words I didn’t even know were in the English language. This is what has left me confused within lecture sessions. Over time, I did find techniques that helped me with these struggles. I made sure to give myself enough time prior to the lecture to read the text – this was a mistake I had made in the earlier study groups where I had tried to read the text the night before but have not understood it and therefore haven’t finished reading it. Another thing I always did within the lectures was write the notes I took by hand so then after the session when it came to blogging about the session, I would have to re-read my notes which would most of the time, solve any confusion I had and help me take in more of what I have learned. Unfortunately, I struggled to find a direct link from this study group to my subject however I did learn that it would be important to think about the wider context when thinking of subject matters for my work.

Going into the second term, I kept in mind that I had struggled with reading academic texts and needed to allow myself time before to make sure I read these properly; as well as giving myself enough time after the lecture to write my notes up onto my blog which would help me make sense of anything I don’t understand. The second study group ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, I found a lot more interesting than the previous study group. Though I enjoyed ‘Things Can Be Otherwise’ it was a lot to take in because of all the scientific topics that were discussed, however, with ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ we learned about different subcultures within the 20th Century. This is a topic I’ve learned about before but only from what my parents have said so it was a really interesting 8 weeks to learn about all the different subcultures and what it meant to be in each subculture. I enjoyed learning about the fashion and the rules each item of clothing meant to each group because it made me look at the clothing of today’s fashion and compare it to who it was worn by previously.

I have particularly found the second term study group useful in regards to my subject Graphic Communication. With ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, there has been a theme of design shown all the way, in particular when we looked at Jamie Reid’s Sex Pistol album cover and learned about how it push boundaries within the time it was created. That is one thing I have learned within this study group – to push the boundaries – to create work that will spark an opinion. I’ve also learned that to break the rules you have to know the rules – for example, to be able to push a material as far as it can go and do something that has not been done before, you should research into that particular material first so you’re not just copying what someone else has done.

Throughout the year, I tried to attend as many keynote sessions as possible. At the end of the first term, I said that as an improvement I should attend more keynote sessions which I definitely did within the second term, however, I did struggle to find all of them useful in regards to my project so they were really difficult to blog about because I couldn’t link all of them to my subject. However, I will continue to attend them as I find that some of the subjects that are spoke about can be good to listen to because it’s something different that I wouldn’t have necessarily looked into myself.

When it came to preparing for my essay during the first term, I did not allow myself a huge amount of time to write the essay.  I chose to write under the title ‘we are cyborgs’ so had to spend a lot of time reading and analysing pieces of text which were using a variety of scientific words I didn’t understand; this meant that I had less time to write the essay so it became quite rushed. However, since receiving a good in my formative feedback, I am surprised that I was able to write a good essay, especially after not writing one in a long time. When it came to writing my summative essay, I gave myself plenty of time to prepare which I was thankful for after changing my essay title. Originally, I had chosen to start from the beginning and write about a topic to do with the hipster culture in today’s society, however after I struggled to find any articles on the topic to help with my ideas, I decided to read back through my previous essay and continue with that. I had several points within the essay and since I’d spent quite a lot of time deconstructing text’s I had chosen to take the quotes from, it was relatively easy for me to pick up where I had started.

Continuing onto second year, I plan to give myself more time prior to each study group to read any texts that are required so that I am in a better position for the lecture. I also will continue to push myself in regards of essay writing to help improve my skill in preparation for the final dissertation.