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togetherness in different forms

august 2020
Lisa Borella, Exploring Object, 2020.
Dear MIECAT community,
We continue to find new ways to connect and share, creating togetherness in different forms. The past month has seen MIECAT teachers and students gain a new-found confidence with online learning. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with many students surprised at how rich the online learning has been. The sense is that the depth of connection and quality of learning has not been compromised, but rather enhanced in unexpected ways.
MIECAT's value of emergence has made possible a swift and successful adaptation to online. Each unit has been carefully crafted to provide unique learning experiences. In July, the Engaging with Materials unit was thoughtfully adapted, creating an immersive experience for students. Lounge rooms, bedrooms and kitchens were transformed into arts-making spaces — places where creativity, imagination, experimentation and discovery flourished.
Learning from home has seen MIECAT students concocting their own paints and playdoughs, foraging in their gardens and repurposing rubbish. Every household item has become a potential arts material — soap, tea bags, crockery, fruit and vegetables. Students are seeing their spaces and everything in it anew, becoming curious about the everyday objects they coexist with.
COVID adaption. Teaching Staff Perspective
- Kim Swan shares her experience
“Initially, I found the idea of taking experiential learning ‘online’ quite daunting, with questions around how the depth of relational ways of being could be fostered and maintained in a world that appeared ‘flat’. Now, having immersed deeply in teaching online, I am moved to report that the experience was anything but flat. It offered a kaleidoscope of rich and colourful ways of meeting one another with presence in our learning.”
Unexpected challenges gave rise to opportunities to adapt, and more often than not, became portals for meaningful educational moments. Online learning hubs were created where emerging wonderings and artistic expressions could be engaged with. Kim explained how MIECAT’s value of multimodality was embraced in the transformation to online:
“We integrated modes of companioning and inquiry using phone, video and chat functions — a wonderful opportunity to develop skills that directly and immediately translate to the times we find ourselves in! We explored across TEAMS and ZOOM, in and out of Breakout rooms, and ventured out into the wider world and back again. Something about this new platform has made it easier to be part of each other’s unfolding learning in a more immediate way.” 
COVID adaption. A Student Perspective
- Anna Ewen & Lisa Borella add their experience
MIECAT students’ growing capacities to connect to their classmates online fosters the invaluable skills that will equip them to effectively offer therapeutic supports to others online in the future, as well as all forms of online relational engagements. Student, Anna Ewen, reflected; “I found that Zoom encouraged a new way to communicate and be with another. In both my personal and professional worlds over the past month I’ve noticed increased transparency and curiosity when communicating through online platforms.”
MIECAT student, Lisa Borella, shared her experience of studying online; “I’ve found it to be a unique learning opportunity, it hasn’t been easier or harder to connect, it’s just different. I think it has been very valuable to learn connection is possible in many ways.”
These experiences of new ways to be together have been deeply reassuring for MIECAT staff and students. We will continue to explore, experiment and expand together, in our lounge rooms and kitchens, coming to know more than we could have ever expected.
Lisa Borella, You’ll Know, 2020.

beauty in the breakdown 
might just be 
a learning of transparency
and patience 
to see home, 
to see materials, 
to hold self and 
break down, 
slow down -- 
see the beauty 
of the room 

by Anna Ewen

MIECAT thanks all students and staff for contributing their experiences of adapting to online. 
Keep well. Keep creating, keep connecting.
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