2. The Classroom: A problem or a Mystery & Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector.

The Classroom: A problem or a Mystery.

In ‘The Classroom: a problem and mystery?’ Dr Ian Munday suggests that some would suggest the classroom needs a formula to work’. He goes on to note that when a set formula is given in a classroom, students can strategise to pass without becoming truly connected to their work and being taught. Through experience it is my belief that classrooms should be a place for students to learn via freedom of play and experiences. Working one-to-one as learning support, the ‘classroom’ is a loose term with no two days or ‘classrooms’ being the same. This allows me to be involved with the student’s individual learning instead of viewing them as a set of problems to solve. It enables me to achieve the learning through play and interacting with the student’s environment.

The main summary I have taken from this text is: mystery is being immersed in your practice whereas problem-solving is having a problem that must be overcome.

The two examples Munday gives to demonstrate this understanding are the guitar and kitchen analogies. In the first, ‘Michael’ followed a set rules to learn the guitar but does not sound as natural or good as ‘Stuart’ who has embraced the mystery of playing. Michael sees the guitar as a set of problems to solve by learning all the cords to become technically perfect whereas Stuart may not be technically perfect but feels the music and embraces the sound, feel and the mystery. In the second example the author did not engage with the working kitchen he was in which ultimately meant he was not suited and was asked to leave. Some problems could have been solved easily, for example ‘practiced dishwashing at home to speed up’. However it was failing to embrace the ‘feel’ of the kitchen which leads to bigger problems. These examples both show that solving a problem is not the most important element, instead it is the mystery of being immersed.

I am interested in Munday’s observation that by imposing goals and rules on a classroom or your practice you can create barriers for mystery to occur. Doing so may limit creativity and free-flowing learning. In my teaching practice I can plan a lesson that is successful with one student but not with another. I believe you should be open-minded to things going wrong and as a teacher you must be able to adapt to your students.


I believe teachers should utilise the principle of play and freedom in their teaching methods, we should be involved in the students learning by creating a back and forth interaction. I could use this method in my teaching practice with interactive drawing excerises to encourage the students to think freely with their work. The techniques of timed drawing games in specific mediums and techniques, for example with your eye closed or with your left hand, can encourage free thinking. Such excerises allow students to create instinctive forms and enable back and forth unconscious play with the results. Ultimately through fun and mystery these excercises allow the students to be creative without feeling the pressure of a final result.


Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector. Hans-Georg Gadamer

Here I have outlined the key elements I took from Gadamer’s text Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector.

  • Play is an action that goes on between the ‘players’ and is said to reach beyond consciousness of a single player. A back and forth flow will open up to the understanding of the art.
  • Understanding the art only happens in a dynamic, interactive and interpretive process of meaning.
  • An ‘event’ is crucial to the play process and the spontaneous back and forth movement that renews itself. This movement is connected to freedom and is an element that is essential to play.
  • Human play is conscious unlike nature which is not. Humans chose to interact with art to create willingness. It is a process that shouldn’t be forced, it happens and you become caught up in the game.
  • “for the game to really take place, the players must commit to the game and behave as genuine participants.”
  • Artwork creates for us the opportunity of knowledge. Every piece of art comments on something about our reality that effects everyone, so it can be seen clearly and with meaning.
  • Understanding the truth of it is just one part of the ‘play’. The artwork addresses us with this truth and awaits our response.
  • “The Spector has a task to fulfill to lend oneself to the truth and allow its clam to be made upon them. Allowing oneself to become immersed in the performance.
  • To be truly open minded you must be able to take on the works meaning without your won perceptions. A genuine understanding of the art.
  • For being open and experiencing these pieces of art, you become more knowledgeable and have new understanding on something other than just yourself. You have a new understanding ‘offered up by another.’


I found studying this text difficult to begin with, but by extracting the key elements and applying them to how I view art and my own experiences I began to connect with what was being said. I believe that play between art and the viewer is the freedom flow of information. I agree that a person may visit a gallery without gaining any connection with the artwork if they are not willing to allow for an interaction. Or a person may see a piece of art in one perspective initially, then an entirely different one as a result of an event or new knowledge of the artist. Gadamer is saying that a viewer must be open to these changes. Doing so will turn your experience into a ‘conversation’ with the art.

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