Thinking Museum

The Art Engager podcast is here to help educators, guides and creatives engage their audiences with art, objects and ideas. Each week I’ll be sharing a variety of easy-to-learn flexible techniques and tools to help you create participant-centred experiences that bring art and ideas to life.

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3 THINKING ROUTINES FOR SLOW LOOKING AND DRAWING

EPISODE 25 – 3 Thinking Routines for Slow Looking and Drawing

This week’s episode is inspired by recent classes in the Visible Thinking Membership where we’ve been exploring the concept of using drawing and sketching for slow looking and observation.
When people are learning how to draw, they actually learn how to observe first. And being a sketcher makes you a better observer – it’s as though you are seeing something for the first time when you’re trying to draw it.
Today I’m talking about using drawing as an observational exercise. It’s not a test of how good your drawing skills are, it’s a test of how to use your eyes. 👀
 Using drawing as a tool for slow looking enriches and enhances what you see.
So here are 3 thinking routines that you can use for slow looking, extended observation and drawing.
And at the end of this episode I’ll be sharing some ways to get over drawing apprehension – that feeling of nerves when someone asks you to draw. How can you help your group to feel comfortable and enjoy drawing with you? So do stick around to the end for those ideas too!
Episode #25
Using art and objects to learn wellbeing skills and improve mental health

EPISODE 24 – Using art and objects to learn wellbeing skills & improve mental health with Louise Thompson

Today I’m really excited to be chatting to Louise Thompson – a museums and wellbeing consultant as well as the health and wellbeing manager at Manchester Art Gallery for the past 9 years. We’re talking how about art and objects can be used to learn wellbeing skills and improve mental health.
Louise has over 12 years experience of arts and health practice and is hugely passionate about using culture and creativity to improve people’s wellbeing.
In this chat we talk about Louise’s work and some of the wonderful projects she’s worked on recently – the Becoming a Mum art therapy project during lockdown and the pioneering Mindful Museum at Manchester Art Gallery.
We talk about how artworks can create a sense of community and how art and cultural collections can make us feel less alone and more connected.
We discuss mindfulness and the particular type of mindfulness that informs Louise’s work – trauma-sensitive mindfulness. We discuss what it is and how cultural institutions are brilliantly placed to teach mindfulness in a trauma-sensitive way.
Louise shares so much value in our chat – make sure you listen to the whole episode to catch it all!
Episode #24
HOW TO GET OVER a TUMBLEWEED MOMENT (& AVOID ONE IN THE FUTURE)

EPISODE 23 – How to get over a ‘tumbleweed moment’ (and avoid one in the future)

Have you ever asked a question that was greeted with nothing but silence? You look around and all you can see are blank faces.
The silence is scary because you don’t know what people are thinking. You wait a little longer and still nothing happens. Just the sound of tumbleweed rustling by….
You’ve just experienced a ‘tumbleweed moment’ – a period of dead air or silence.
And it’s awkward and uncomfortable – not just for you but also for your participants too. You don’t know what people are thinking and your mind races to think of something to fill the silence.
But what if you had some steps to work though to help you get over this moment? Well, help is at hand. Today I’m sharing some practical ways to get over a tumbleweed moment.
And at the end I’ll be sharing some advice about avoiding these moments in the first place – so stick around and together we’ll make sure you never have to hear the terrifying sound of silence again!
Episode #23
13 Tips for Getting Started with Thinking Routines

EPISODE 22 – 13 Tips for Getting Started with Thinking Routines

In the past week I’ve just started teaching my Visible Thinking in the Museum Online course (VTMO) to a group of international educators excited to start confidently leading discussions around art and objects.
There’s always a buzz when we get going and an enthusiasm to learn as much as you can as quickly as possible.
But I always try to slow down participants, so that they can take it one step at a time and build up their practice (and confidence) slowly.
So this week’s episode is for all the new VTMO-ers and for anyone who has just started out using thinking routines to engage their audiences with art. Here are my top 13 tips for getting started!
Episode #22
How to Use your Voice to Engage your Audience

EPISODE 21 – How to use your voice to engage your audience

Today I’m really excited to be introducing our first guest chat on the podcast. Today I’m talking to voice actor Samantha Boffin – we are exploring tools and techniques that will help you develop a more reliable and consistent voice.
Sam shares some wonderful tips and techniques that we can all use to make the most of our voice and use it in the best way possible. We discuss:
  • Why your voice is important, and tips / techniques for optimising your voice before you start a session (e.g an art discussion or a guided tour or a classroom lesson for teachers)
  • How to use your voice to ENGAGE your audience. How the voice can be a tool in your educator toolbox to keep your audience tuned in, curious and eager to participate
Sam is very generous with her advice and shares lots of gold here – so you might need to make notes!
Episode #21
The 6 Core Elements of my VTMO (and why they're important)

EPISODE 20 – The 6 core elements of my VTMO course (and why they’re important)

Today I’m talking about the 6 core elements in my popular Visible Thinking in the Museum Online (VTMO) course – elements that you should also have in your educator repertoire to connect with your audience and engage them with art and objects.
I’m sharing with you:
  • How the course came about during the start of the pandemic in 2020
  • How it was designed and why
  • The 6 core elements of the course and why they’re important to you
  • What you will get out of VTMO
Next week,  I’m teaching VTMO for the final time in the Visible Thinking membership. We start on 20 September!
Episode #20
What to Expect from The Art of Engagement Challenge

BONUS EPISODE – What to expect from The Art of Engagement Challenge

Today I’m sharing some thoughts about how you can successfully design and lead engaging discussion-based programmes around art and objects.

I’ll be talking briefly about the difference between conversations, discussions and dialogue, before moving into 11 tips for success in creating conversations around art and objects.

BONUS Episode
Success Factors for Leading Discussion-Based Programmes Around Art

Episode 19 – Success-Factors for Discussion-Based Programmes Around Art

Today I’m sharing some thoughts about how you can successfully design and lead engaging discussion-based programmes around art and objects.

I’ll be talking briefly about the difference between conversations, discussions and dialogue, before moving into 11 tips for success in creating conversations around art and objects.

Episode #19

Episode 18 – Common Fears Around Leading Discussion-Based Programmes (and How to Deal with Them)

Leading tours and educational programmes that are based on discussion, inquiry and interaction can be a scary business. Both for you and for your participants.

And if you’re about to take your first steps, it might seem really daunting. However, do remember that any concerns you have are perfectly normal and you’re not alone (we’ve all been there and had to start somewhere). Take it one step at a time and with time, practice and guidance, it will get easier (I promise!).

In this podcast episode, I’m going to summarise the most common fears and concerns about leading discussion-based programmes that I’ve heard over the last 20 years, along with suggestions for ways to overcome them.

Episode #18
13 Ways to Make your Online Experiences More Engaging and Interactive

Episode 17 – 13 Ways to Make your Online Experiences More Engaging and Interactive

Over the past year, I’ve attended some fantastic interactive online sessions and I’ve led hundreds of my own.⁠

I’ve also attended some pretty dull one-way presentations and long lectures.

No matter what type of session you are leading – be it a virtual tour, an online art discussion, an online class or course – you need to keep your session interactive to stop participants from tuning out.

You need to find a variety of ways to engage people throughout the session.

Online experiences that emphasise personalisation, active learning, interaction and engagement will be here to stay.

If you haven’t levelled up your skills yet, it’s time you took some action

When it’s done right, online sessions are JUST as (and in some cases MORE) rewarding and engaging online. ⁠

But how do you make it interactive and keep everyone fully engaged? Here are my 13 ways to get you started…

Episode #17
How to Use See Think Wonder in your Art Discussions

Episode 16 – How to Use See Think Wonder in your Art Discussions

Today I’m doing a deep dive on the most famous and well-known thinking routine of them all – See Think Wonder.

I’m going to share with you how you can use this thinking routine in your art discussions and why it’s one of the best routines for getting started with Visible Thinking in the Museum – my method for engaging and connecting with audiences, art and ideas.

It’s actually the first thinking routine that I teach when I do a training with teams of educators or guides in a museum and the first routine that I teach on my popular VTMO course.

STW is a GREAT thinking routine to use when you are new to Visible Thinking and a really good one to use at the beginning of a guided tour or museum programme.

But what is it, how can you use it and, importantly, what’s so special about it? All will be revealed today in episode 16!

Episode #16
How to Use Artworks to Improve your Questioning Skills

Episode 15 – How to Use Artworks to Improve your Questioning Skills

I’ve been using artworks for years to help me to brainstorm, re-word and improve my questioning skills.

I’m not an ‘expert questioner’ by any means and have found that this is a skill that I have had to consistently work at to improve.

But by using artworks, I really enjoy the process too.

Artworks (and objects) provide an engaging and focused way to work on your questioning skills. In today’s episode I’m going to share with you some practical ways you can use art as a tool to become a better questioner!

Episode #15
5 Simple Slow Looking Activities for Summer

Episode 14 – 5 Simple Slow Looking Activities for Summer

Today I’m sharing 5 simple slow looking ideas for the summer #summerslowlooking

Slow looking is a wonderful alternative to life in the fast lane. The 5 activities I’ll be sharing here are simple, effective ways to slow down, improve your observational skills and focus and notice more details around you.

You can use these slow looking activities throughout the summer – either on your own or with friends and family and children. All of the activities are designed to help you develop your ability to see – and in doing so, spark creativity, curiosity and improve focus.

Episode #14
How to Use Unveiling Stories to Investigate Muliple Layers of Meaning in a Photograph

Episode 13 – How to use ‘Unveiling Stories’ thinking routine to Investigate Multiple Layers of Meaning in a Photograph

Today I’m talking all about how to use the ‘Unveiling Stories’ thinking routine to investigate multiple layers of meaning with a photograph.

This is part of a new series of episodes on the podcast where I share a thinking routine with you and all the insights for how you might be able to use it with an artwork or object with groups – either in-person or online.

Unveiling Stories was our ‘thinking routine of the month’ for June in the Visible Thinking Membership. Every month we have a specialist thinking routine online class that gives us the opportunity to discover a new thinking routine or to dig a bit deeper into one we already know.

Episode #13
6 BEST PRACTICES FOR SHARING INFORMATION IN YOUR ART DISCUSSIONS

Episode 12 – 6 Best Practices For Sharing Information in your Art Discussions

Many of us are experts in our field – possibly art historians, historians or archaeologists – and want to share that incredible knowledge with the groups we lead in our programmes.

But knowing what information to share, how to share it and when to share it is often tricky – especially on interactive, discussion-based programmes. And what happens when you add too much information? And how much is too much?

Sharing information that is engaging and memorable (without overloading your participants) is a great skill to master.

In this week’s episode I’m sharing some thoughts on information delivery and 6 best practices for how to share your knowledge AND keep your audience engaged and curious.

Make your knowledge work for you. Learn how to use information as a tool to create curiosity and engagement in episode 12!

Episode #12
Step Inside Thinking Routines to Foster Perspective-Taking

Episode 11 – Step Inside: Thinking Routines to Foster Perspective-Taking

Perspective-taking is about seeing a situation or understanding a concept from an alternative view point, such as that of someone else. It is a skill that needs to be encouraged – particularly in children.

Your brain has to work quite hard to get good at perspective-taking. And in the opposite direction of what it is hard-wired to do – which is to place YOU at the centre of everything.
Engaging in perspective-taking means moving away from this starting point in order to understand others.

THE GOOD NEWS is that like most things, it gets easier with practice and our perspective-taking skills do improve.  In today’s episode I’m going to introduce you to 4 thinking routines that are specifically designed to foster this disposition. You can  use these thinking routines with artworks to create discussions that consider multiple solutions to a problem and look at situations or people from multiple perspectives.

Episode #11
10 common mistakes to avoid when asking questions

Episode 10 – 10 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Asking Questions

For some people questioning comes easily. But for the majority of us, we are not asking enough questions AND we’re not phrasing them in the best way. The good news is that we can all become better questioners with time and practice.

To become a better questioner, it’s really important first all to avoid the 10 common mistakes I talk about in this episode. Which ones of these are you guilty of? I’ve certainly done a few of these in the past! And stay tuned until the end where I’m sharing a follow-up exercise you can do to work on your own questioning skills!

Episode #10
CREATING A GREAT GROUP DYNAMIC IN THE ‘NEW NOW’

Episode 9 – Creating a Great Group Dynamic in the ‘New Now’

Today I’m talking about building rapport and creating a great group dynamic in the ‘new now’. Creating a great group dynamic is even MORE important now after the last year or so. In this episode I’m talking about :

  • what group dynamics are
  • the different types of groups you might come across
  • the roles people play in groups
  • the size of groups
  • how to use space

I’ll end by talking about how to still create a great group dynamic even when you’re wearing a face mask, so stay tuned for that at the end of this episode.

Episode #9
How to Use See Think Me We Thinking Routine with Artworks

Episode 8 – How to Use ‘See Think Me We’ Thinking Routine with Artworks

Today, I’m talking all about how to use the ‘See Think Me We’ thinking routine with artworks.

This is part of a new series of episodes on the podcast where I share a thinking routine with you and all the insights for how you might be able to use it with an artwork or object with groups – either in-person or online.

See Think Me We was our ‘thinking routine of the month’ recently in the Visible Thinking Membership. Here’s how we used See Think Me We thinking routine to discuss Kerry James Marshall’s ‘SOB, SOB’ (2003).

Episode #8
Developing a Daily Slow Looking Practice

Episode 7 – How to Develop a Daily Slow Looking Practice

Developing a daily slow looking practice will enable you to improve your observational skills and start noticing more details.

And if we are better at this ourselves, as educators, then we are in a far better position to guide others through the process of slow looking too.

So, here are 6 ways you can start to develop your own daily slow looking practice – I’ve included a number of ideas, some outside, some inside, some to do with art, some not. The idea is that you pick one of these activities and you do it every day for a few days and see what happens. After a few days you should start to notice a difference!

Episode #7
6 Essential Thinking Routines you Need in your Repertoire

Episode 6 – 6 Essential Thinking routines you Need in your Repertoire

In this episode, I’m discussing 6 essential thinking routines you should have in your educator repertoire.

These are thinking routines that you can use to create engaging discussions with art or artefacts or routines that will help you develop and grow in your work as an educator.

I’ve found it really hard to select just 6 thinking routines out of the 100+ routines out there, but I’ve come up with a list that every educator should have in their repertoire to draw upon where necessary.

To find out which 6 thinking routines I chose, listen to this week’s episode!

Episode #6
The Art of Facilitation

Episode 5 – The Art of Facilitation

Facilitation is a key part of creating engaging and interactive discussions around art and museum objects.

But developing the skills of a good facilitator is an art form in itself – it requires practice, patience and the best facilitators MAKE IT LOOK SO EASY.

In this week’s episode, I’m talking about facilitation – how can you develop the skills of a good facilitator (and make it look like you were born to do it), and what are the different roles you will be expected to play?

Episode #5
The 5 Golden Rules for Asking Brilliant Questions

Episode 4 – The 5 Golden Rules for Asking Brilliant Questions

In this week’s episode, I’m sharing my 5 golden rules for asking brilliant questions.  But what is a brilliant question? Asking more questions is one way to get more interaction and engagement in your programmes. But asking the wrong types of questions can actually shut down the discussion and stop people participating at all. So, in this episode, I’m sharing 5 rules that will help you to ask questions that create interaction and engagement, open up discussions and encourage everyone to participate fully!

Episode #4
The Magic of Thinking Routines

Episode 3 – The Magic of Thinking Routines

Thinking routines are an essential part of the Visible Thinking in the Museum method.

They have been a magical ingredient in helping me to confidently create engaging discussions around objects and artworks over the past 10 years.

They’ve also been a great way to engage audiences to get them really interested in art and objects, making them curious and asking questions and, of course, getting them thinking.

But what are thinking routines and how can you use them? And where does the magic happen? That’s what we’re discovering in this week’s episode.

Episode #3
What is Slow Looking and How Can I Get Started?

Episode 2 – What is slow looking and how can I get started?

I believe engagement starts with slow looking. I’ve been practising the art of slow looking for the last 10 years as a personal practice and with groups of all ages with a variety of objects, artworks, situations and places. Slow looking has played a pivotal role in the most engaging discussions I’ve led over the last 10 years. Slow looking has played a pivotal role in the most engaging discussions I’ve led over the last 10 years.

In this podcast I’m going to take you right back to the basics and walk you through an introduction to slow looking – what it is, why it matters and how you can get started – and I’ll be sharing lots of practical tips and suggestions too!

Go To Episode #2
The moment when I first heard the words ‘Visible Thinking’

Episode 1 – The moment when I first heard the words ‘Visible Thinking’

In this first episode, I’m going to be talking about the main method I use to engage audiences with art and ideas – that’s my Visible Thinking in the Museum method which I started developing 10 years ago this year.

I didn’t know it at the time, but hearing the words ‘Visible Thinking’ was about to change everything. This method has influenced everything I’ve done in the past 10 years and has completely revolutionised the way I work.

So, what is this Visible Thinking? How did I hear about it and how did I start to use it in my method?

Go To Episode #1
Introducing the Art Engager Podcast

Introducing The Art Engager Podcast

Welcome to The Art Engager podcast! This podcast is here to help educators, guides and creatives engage their audiences with art, objects and ideas. Each week I’ll be sharing a variety of strategies, ideas and inspiration to help you to engage and connect with your audiences and confidently lead lively art and artefact discussions.

Show highlights:

  • What The Art Engager podcast is all about
  • How and why creating real engagement with art and museum objects can be tricky
  • What is Visible Thinking in the Museum?
  • What we’re going to be talking about on this podcast
Go To Trailer