Integrating Arts-Based Learning in Transformative “Third Spaces”

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This arts-based inquiry research approach investigates learners’ situated knowledge, experiences, and implicit theories based on previously gathered empirical and interpretive data. In this article, we discuss the use of experiential workshops to create a “third space” or “incubation” space as a way of facilitating effective learning environments. The “third space” is placed at the core of the higher educational curriculum to foster creativity, reflection, and critical thinking. The experience fosters transformative ways of thinking for both the teacher and student, leading to more engaging, meaningful, and contemplative interactions. To understand how creativity and reflective practice is fostered in adult learners, the experiential workshops scaffold (systematically structuring experience and knowledge) and embeds rituals, such as rhythmic breathing, into traditional Fresco molds through frottage (rubbing technique) into the learning environment of the “third space.” The framework is conceptualized as participants’ inward journeys “moving” through (in and out of) levels of creativity through action and reflection. Workshops were presented in Zaragoza and Valencia, Spain; and Athens, Greece, integrating traditional symbolic artifacts from classical Spanish and Greek, and Australian Indigenous mythologies to extend modes of expression through playful relaxation. Participants experimented with the different ways color and pattern can heighten self-awareness, reflection, and praxis.