I have always been drawn to the Russian Avangard art and all those "isms" derived from it: abstractionism, suprematism, and constructivism. The attempt to go out of the scope of the thingness that is characteristic of abstractionism has always attracted me. It's interesting how the artists can express their ideas in form or colour, in the layers of geometrical figures overlapping each other. I'm fascinated by the design that takes roots in abstractionism. Design matters to me. It inspires me. So, why, you can ask me, am I writing about design here, at this website, which seems to be devoted to academic writing? There are several reasons for it. Let me highlight some of them below.
First of all, it is about inspiration. Writing, especially academic writing, is a tedious, challenging, lengthy process that requires enormous concentration and a mixture of skills and abilities from a writer. What is more, it requires unbelievable self-regulation. Academic text is written when the person is alone with laziness, fatigue, ideas and data, unstructured and unsystematised. Not everyone is capable of overcoming all these factors and eventually producing a logical and clear statement. A person has to cope with emotions and anxiety and arm themselves with interest and motivation to accomplish this. Therefore, if one finds something that motivates them to write and work, this should be immediately added to the writing tooling and actively used to achieve the results. Avangard and design are what drives and motivates me. That's why I'm going to allude to Avangard motives from time to time at this website.
Chaos and Order
Secondly, Avangard is, to a certain extent, an attempt to subdue all the chaos of the world outside to the humans' reason. However romantic this idea might be, it seems entirely in keeping with what academic work and academic writing entail. A researcher deals with the chaos of fragmented thoughts, resources, and data, eventually becoming well-structured and systematised arguments. These arguments lead to essential conclusions. In their turn, they may give way to solutions to the problems, which seemed to be chaotic, unresolvable and uncontrolled. And this is what excites me about both: Avangard art and academic writing.
Thirdly, I am deeply interested in the phenomenon of constructivism. It is crucial to understand that it is not only a movement in art, architecture, and literature (it is not only about Tatlin, Kandinsky, Rodchenko, Gan, Lissitsky etc.), but it is also one of the most considerate concepts in social studies, philosophy of education, and in academic design. Constructivism is a teaching paradigm that regards learning as the process of learners' constructing knowledge and abilities. This means learners don't perceive the information and acquire knowledge passively but rather build it independently according to their experience and the context they find themselves. Within this framework, knowledge is viewed as the result of individual work rather than a learning environment factor that a teacher "puts" in learners' heads as if it were a ready-made product.
Teaching writing in a foreign language
The idea of the independent process of constructing one's learning has been actively exploited in the ESL/EFL field. The constructivist approach seems to be incredibly productive in the realm of the teaching of academic writing. I adopt this approach in my academic writing courses (I will tell you more about this approach later in this blog). Within this method, my learners don't just passively memorise writing theories or grammatical or syntactical rules. The technique enables the participants of my courses to actively embrace and acquire the writing strategies to apply them later in their contexts. Adopting this approach also explains why I use constructivist themes in designing my website, materials and presentations in the course. I believe constructivist design and the ideas of constructivism as a pedagogic theory that I use are logically adding to each other.