Week 4 at the CreativiTEA Rooms: History, Myths and Truth …

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Welcome to our final week sharing of the conversations and exchanges at the CreativiTEA Rooms. Hosting our tea party this week were three storytelling historians, all with a very creative twist on how history can be made more vivid and relevant to primary pupils today.

The talking points were surprisingly convergent: the importance of communicating a sense of immediateness and visceral understanding of historical lived experience; the value in understanding timelines so that pupils can have a sense of  history as a connected and still unfolding whole; their hope to inspire teachers to more confidence in working with music and storytelling.

David Trouton brought music notation and human history together and shared a very creative way of demonstrating a 40,000  linear timeline by physically unrolling a 400 sheet toilet roll through the school. Each sheet represented 100 years of human history and the pupils in David’s workshops were able to track backwards century by century noting the key landmarks – and uncovering the chronology of music along the way. The work of Frances and Jo from Electric Voice Theatre strongly identified with David’s. Their festival workshops worked with children on a mapped floor grid to create a musical score using The Great Tapestry of Scotland as resource and inspiration. Both creative projects encouraged a highly interactive and physical approach which the pupils and teachers found enjoyable and stimulating.

Allan Burnett hosted on Tuesday and there was much discussion about how to connect with pupils in the short time frame of a workshop so that their experience is immediately different. Capturing pupils imagination and stimulating their creativity while inviting their sense of fun and adventure can, in the early stages, seem at odds with the teacher’s discipline and behaviour code. The two roles of artist and teacher can be very different but everyone agreed on the benefits of navigating those differences and finding  a positive partnership approach.

The issue of historical interpretation was discussed, and specifically in relation to the anniversary of the Great War and how writers and storytellers can enliven pupils understanding to discover greater truths beyond the facts, through creativity. Creative practitioners often bring the courage, freedom and curiosity to look at all facets of human experience and to relate that to the feelings and experiences of children today. Many boys, no matter how much they are discouraged, still find ways to make weapons and engage in battles with their friends. In current literature, the joy of going to war, the excitement of defeating the ‘enemy’ is now being written about and understood, alongside the well documented and depressing evolution of that experience.

This topic was also touched on during our Wednesday Specials Board when Andy Cannon talked about the importance of imagination to create a fictional or personal or emotional story within the context of historical dates and facts. He explored the idea that the play acting of battle, for some, might be an important stage to go through, in order to come out the other side and be able to explore all the facets of war in a more nuanced way. It was part of a deep and stimulating discussion with many around the table opening up and sharing their own thoughts, beliefs and experiences.

This openness and exploration of individual response seems to sit at the heart of creativity and perhaps goes some way to explain the value of artistic and creative practitioners in schools. Our different art form artists stepped into the schools bringing their resources and ideas and selves to the experience and they created enough space for the children to express, interact and discover in a multitude of ways. And the result is… that we all get to learn from each other.

This is the last CreativiTEA Rooms update for the Festival as the tea rooms are now closed! But there will be more photos and a final round up to come next week, sharing more festival photos and capturing some more aspects of the wide ranging creative conversations from the last 4 weeks….

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