The art of teamwork


POSTED: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kapiolani Community College art instructors Carol Sakihara and Elizabeth Nakoa teamed up this spring to offer an education to first-year students that instilled teamwork and follow-through as well as art skills.

Sakihara, a teacher of three-dimensional art, and Nakoa, two-dimensional, collaborated in the Learning Community, a new program offered at Hawaii's community colleges in which two instructors design one course and teach it together, with the focus on having students work collaboratively as well.

“;It's a combination of topics of two classes and two teachers, sometimes from different disciplines,”; says Nakoa. “;A lot of students do better in school if they create a strong bond with each other.”;

Hence, the double art course required a final group project that incorporated everything learned over the semester: 2-D drawing and conceptualizing; 2-D and 3-D design principles including use of color, space, repetition and movement within form; and, finally, a translation of all that into a 3-D work.

The end result: a graceful and vibrant origami sculpture comprising more than 2,000 cranes that were attached to chicken wire and wrapped around a tree on the KCC campus.

“;One of the most important things was that it was an installation in a public setting,”; says Nakoa.

The work caught the eye of faculty who “;were all very excited about it,”; says Sakihara. “;The students are happy, too. They never thought they'd have a chance to do something like this.

“;It looks fantastic.”;

NAKOA SAYS the students had so many ideas that they struggled to decide on one that all could agree on, but she and Sakihara “;stepped out of the process completely.”;

“;One of the goals of the Learning Community is to create successful students who know how to work together to make decisions they see through to completion,”; Nakoa said. “;Once they came to a decision, they really focused.”;

Students spent two weeks folding cranes, then gluing the origami to the chicken wire.

“;I told them if they did something involving manpower, they could take advantage of the efforts of the whole class. And that's the best thing, because manpower is free.”;

Nakoa said students felt ownership in the project and bore a sense of accountability to the entire group, values the Learning Community wants to cultivate.

All these lessons came courtesy of enormous sweat equity on the part of the instructors. To stay true to the program's philosophy, both women attended each 5 1/2 -hour class session (the time reflects the sum of what a 2-D and 3-D class would each take individually), and they graded each student together.

“;We did everything together,”; Nakoa says. “;It was tremendously time-consuming.”;

For all that, Nakoa and Sakihara hope to do it all again next semester, and they will if enrollment permits.

The class was “;absolutely, very successful,”; Nakoa said.