Meeting of Minds

Arts Education - Grade 8

This unit of inquiry is not a recipe book but rather a launchpad to inspire new BIG IDEAS. We encourage you to use and/or modify one, or several of the BIG IDEAS below. Adapt it to the grade/ ability level of your students.


Enduring Understandings

The arts provide opportunities for individual and collective expression.


Guiding Questions

In what ways can art open our minds and lead to collaboration and changes?


Mind Opening

Choose or devise practices to encourage students to be open to new experiences and ways of thinking in your classroom. For example, the MindUP in-school program.


Discovery & Inspiration:

Launch the Project

Introduce the Theme: Present the Enduring Understanding and Guiding Questions using vocabulary that is appropriate for grade level.

About Vancouver Biennale: Play a short video.

Project Space: Brainstorm ideas to make the project theme visual and visible using bulletin boards, and/or a project corner to share relevant materials and inquiry questions and processes.

Reference Resources:

Introduction to Sculpture and Public Art Unit Plan for information on how art has evolved over time and the unique experience sculptures and/or public art has to offer

Vancouver Biennale 2014-2016 Exhibition Theme: Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver

The Meeting (Wang Shugang, China).

About Artist and Artwork (PDF)


Learning to Learn:

Art Inquiry

Make a visit to The Meeting and and encourage students to freely explore and interact with the art pieces individually and in groups. This Art Inquiry process enables the students to practice observing, describing, interpreting, and sharing visual information and personal experiences. Use the Art Inquiry Worksheet (PDF) to guide and capture their ideas and impressions. Customize or create your own Art Inquiry Worksheet as appropriate for your project and class needs.

BIG IDEAS Anywhere educators: View the The Meeting Guided Tour Video MUTE ON and encourage students to explore at different angles individually and in groups.


Shared Insights

• Sharing Art Inquiry Experience: Ask students to share the Art Inquiry Worksheet responses in class.

View Guided Tour Video: View the The Meeting Guided Tour Video again with SOUND ON.

Artist Themes – Research: In small groups students rotate between information stations detailing the artist’s life and work. Station topics include: (1) education and training; (2) lifetime of artwork; (2) materials and processes; (3) beliefs and values. At each station, students answer questions and complete a task. For example, at the station “life’s work” students might plot the artist’s various installations on a map of the world.

• Artist Themes – Collaboration & Change: The Meeting was first exhibited at the 2007 G-8 summit meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany. Discuss the purpose of a G-8 summit meeting. Facilitate a discussion relating the artwork to the meeting of minds, collaboration, and change. Encourage students to talk about their initial observation and interpretation: what do they think about the seven figures looking exactly the same placed in a circle, static and crouching with cupped hands. Continue the line of questions on the significance of the 8th red figure sitting on his own and away from the circle. Is this a tense or peaceful meeting? What significant meetings have happened in the students’ lives and what were their outcome?

Imagination Conversation: Show students a pair of images: they can be paintings, portraits, or photographs. Ask students to write or dramatize the conversation between the two images in the voice of the people/objects represented, the artists who created the images, or the images themselves. What might they say to each other if they could speak?

Mapping Minds: Ask students to create (in words, performance, images, or objects) a map of their minds, their internal processes and habits. Then, ask students to pair up and find pathways to and from each other’s minds. What commonalities do they find at these crossroads? What differences mark the borders between them? What borders would they need to cross to engage in a meeting of minds?


Inquiry Challenges

• Art Educations (Visual Art): Challenge students to artistically engage in their school community to create spaces for meetings of mind.  Begin the discussion with reference to the current configuration of The Meeting and ask students to consider the power of art in revolutionizing public space. Continue the inquiry into what borders do we need to cross within this classroom? School? The neighbourhood? Ask students to represent the spaces encircled by borders in a variety of media. Invite students to use sidewalk chalk, yarn-bombing, and installation pieces to communicate their desire for meetings of mind and evoke reflections on the space they inhabit from others.

• Arts Education (Drama): Use guided visualization exercises and imagination to help students open their minds. After engaging in a Bus Stop improvisation exercise, invite students to reflect on how meetings of mind are possible even in ordinary situations. See Bus Stop Instructions and an example here: Video: Students Play Bus Stop. Allow students to apply their insights to create performances that explore the conditions necessary both to open minds and to encourage the meeting of minds.

• Arts Education (Dance): Have students research and explore dance’s role in world cultures as a method of opening minds and meeting minds. Use web, print and video resources such as Dance in World Cultures. How can we use our bodies to open our minds? Choreograph and perform a dance to encourage or represent a meeting of minds.

• Arts Education (Music): How does a band, orchestra, or musical group work together? Have students explore the role of various instruments in creating rhythm, melody, and expression. How does music both represent and require a meeting of minds? Challenge students to perform a multi-instrument/voice piece which illustrates a meeting of minds, a conversation or sharing between people, animals, or ideas.


Student Creations

Students and teachers decide on medium and methods to communicate their insights on methods to open their minds and encourage the meeting of minds. Consider use of posters, websites, montages, written essays/poems, film and audio, dance, visual arts or theatre to perform or present their findings and share them with their fellow classmates and school community.


Taking Action

Students can take their learning to the broader community in deep and meaningful ways by performing or presenting their work to their school community, installing their artistic encouragement of open, meeting minds in a more permanent way around the school, or leading in-school or sister-school workshops to show peers and younger students how they can open their minds and facilitate meetings of minds.



• Teacher and students can reflect on their entire learning process by revisiting the Enduring Understanding and relevant Guiding Questions.

• How did the unit of study open inquiry, create cross–curricular learning opportunities and/or apply learning to real life situations? Has this unit of inquiry changed your opinions, values and world view? In what ways, if any, has it helped you grow as a learner?


Ideas for Cross-Curricular Access

• Dance and Language Arts: Watch Youth Street Dance Council perform Shayne Koyzcan’s Instructions for a Bad Day. (Youth Street Dance Council Performance). Choreograph a dance performance to accompany and express a spoken word poem. Dance to arrange a meeting of minds between the body and the word

• Visual Art and Mathematics: Have students combine considerations of form, function and space to plan and construct a scale model of a building or object. How does increasing or decreasing the size of a known object change the way we think about it? How do Art and Math ‘meet’ in our minds and challenge the borders between these disciplines? Find examples from Lakeshore Middle School here: Scale Model Project

• Music and Science: Have students explore the physical properties of sound and their effect on our experience of music. How does the mechanical wave produced by the oscillation of pressure through a solid, liquid, or gas produce a range of frequencies? How does music affect us biologically? Exploratorium: The Science of Music

• Drama and Socials: Dramatize a meeting of minds that crossed or opened borders to demonstrate how open minds in collaboration create change. What would a Greek intellectual have said to an Italian merchant in 1453, when the destruction of Constantinople brought scholars to Italy, encouraging the Renaissance? What would Richard I have said to Saladin if they had met during the Third Crusade? What would a historical figure from the period studied (500-1600) say to a student of today?


Written by: Natasha Sharpe, 2013 UBC Secondary School Teacher Candidate

Edited by: Jennifer Massoud, Secondary School Teacher

©2013 Vancouver Biennale