Adventures in Arts Education

Image © Laura Sullivan Doodle Monkey Illustration

Image © Laura Sullivan Doodle Monkey Illustration

The CreativiTEA Rooms are in full swing as we reach just past the midway point of the Arts Across Learning Festival, can’t belive we are into week 3 already!

The Tea Rooms are a great opportunity to meet artists and teachers involved in the festival, find out more about the festival, generally pick people’s brains and have a natter about arts in educational contexts. This week the Tea Rooms have been busy with festival artists, with Anthony Schrag and Alec Millar on Monday and Aberdeen Performing Arts, Fly Right Dance Company and Tawona Sithole all popping past for a natter on Tuesday.

Our Specials Board this week features visual artist Tracey Smith who will be on hand to talk about her “adventures” in arts education, reflecting on delivering creative learning for schools and children and young people within and in partnership with Galleries and Collections. If you’re an artist considering, or looking to expand, a career in arts education, or an educator interested in how aspects of the curriculum can be approached through an artist/gallery partnership this would be a fab Tea Rooms session to come along to. Tracey will be reflecting on both and might even get creative! 4 – 6pm Thursday 13th March, CreativiTEA Rooms @ Aberdeen Arts Centre.

Last Thursday drama practitioner Fiona Milligan Rennie and Kingsford Primary P7 teacher Richard Gall reflected on their partnership working with P7 pupils to explore substance misuse issues as part of the Health and Wellbeing curriculum. As part of the Extreme Project legacy, Fiona had already worked with Kingsford to explore creative approaches across a range of year groups and curriculum areas, including previously working with Richard using creative practice in the teaching of French.

Richard then identified that he wanted to look at using creative approaches in a more complex context, to work with his pupils in looking at substance misuse issues. Health & Wellbeing is a big part of Curriculum for Excellence, and Richard wanted to try a different approach to reach a class of children for whom this was a particularly relevant topic due to their soical environment, and one that needed honest communication and would really give pupils ownership of the learning process.

After careful planning Richard and Fiona decided an immersive drama would be an effective approach to take, with the entire class getting involved in a role play focused on substance misuse over an extended session in school. Pupils first had an afternoon of drama skills workshop with Fiona, followed by an afternoon session talking about substance misuse . Fiona and Richard devised key characters and the children were then allocated or picked roles.  The final session was “…a carefully planned dramatic construct” with children improvising within their allocated roles and the narrative structure of the drama. This approach gave the children more freedom to ask questions and explore the issues within the structure of the drama, giving them the opportunity to raise things that they may not otherwise have been comfortable discussing just in conversation with their teacher/ the class. The creative approach allowed more room to fully explore the reality of substance misuse for these children and to have honest conversations, and provided a strong structure for exploring issues where the pupils may otherwise have lacked the language to describe how they were feeling.

The session was a success in achieving learning outcomes for the pupils. All of the pupils were absorbed in the drama, and Richard noted that there were zero behaviour issues during the session. A critical key to the session’s success was the emphasis to the pupils of sticking to things that are truthful and honest within the drama – so if pupils started going off track / getting silly, the session was easily able to be brought back around by Fiona or Richard simply by them referring to what might be real or truthful in the context of the topic of the drama.

Having follow up activities in place was noted as important, and Fiona and Richard made sure to develop these in advance of the session, for delivery by Richard in follow up class time.

It was fascinating to hear about the development and delivery of the session, and to think about the ways in which creative approaches can be used to enable children to engage with a complex, sensitive, sometimes emotionally loaded subject matter and to enable children to really take hold of their own learning and thinking about a subject.

Quote of the evening from Richard: “Knowledge is power and I want no child to leave my classroom without that knowledge.”

This work undertaken by Richard and Fiona was funded through the Extreme Project legacy programme. Fiona & Richard are now going to work together again with Richard’s 2014 P7 class, adjusting and adapting the session for the new class, and the school have themselves allocated budget for Fiona to come back in to work with Richard.

If anyone would like further information about this project please get in touch via the this blog, or contact Creative Learning in the first instance: creativelearningteam@aberdeencity.gov.uk

The CreativiTEA Rooms blog can only capture some of the fascinating conversations that are part of the tea rooms on a daily basis, so come down and join us for a cuppa: 4 – 6pm Monday – Thursday @ Aberdeen Arts Centre – just follow the tea cups!

CreativiTEA Rooms Programme: Week 2

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The Tea Rooms this week features Pete Stollery who will be “resident” on Tuesday to chat about uses of sound in creative and educational contexts, Renne Vincent-Hadley doing a practical creative drop in making good enough to eat felt macaroons on Wednesday, and artist Fiona Milligan Rennie and teacher Richard Gall talking about their collaborations at Kingsford Primary and the potential and pitfalls of partnership working on Thursday, all from 4 – 6 at Aberdeen Arts Centre. See you there!

Why Are You Here?

Last Thursday Paul Gorman and Katherine Morley had a cuppa and took time to reflect with a packed tea rooms, asking “Why are you here?”, chatting about Creative Learning’s Resonate project with the School of Education at Aberdeen University and looking at ways to share ideas around innovation and best creative practice in education. Conversation was stimulating and some of it was captured in Tea Rooms “Tweets” – you can read some of them below (click on the image/s to enlarge). Meeting new people to bounce ideas off and share ideas with, hearing new ideas and opinions, making new contacts, learning more about the arts in education, and finding out about other creative projects in the city were some of the top tweets….and of course the free cake…

Weaving Creativity Through Education

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The Arts Across Learning Festival has kicked off and the CreativiTEA Rooms are open! It’s been a busy week with the festival launch on Monday and festival artists popping in and out, including the fabulous chamber ensemble Daniel’s Beard, creative facilitator Alec Miller, author Joan Lennon, and Half Moon Theatre Company. Illustrator Moira Munro led a Tea Rooms session on Tuesday with a really mixed group chatting about the key benefits of creativity in education and using creative approaches to explore difficult issues with teens such as self harm and depression, and textile artist and champion knitter Carol Meldrum yarn bombed the tea rooms on Wednesday!

Today’s session promises to be stimulating, with Resonate artists in residence Paul Gorman and Katherine Morley talking about their roles as Creative Catalysts within Aberdeen University’s School of Education and leading a discussion exploring what utopia for creativity in education  might look like. And of course drinking tea. And eating cake. Hope to see you there!

Thurs 27th Feb   Resonate: Weaving Creativity through Education

What would creativity in education’s Utopia look like? Join artists Katherine Morley and Paul Gorman as they talk about their involvement as Creative Catalysts with the University of Aberdeen’s School of Education in 2013-14 and playfully explore what factors support quality in creative learning.

CreativiTEA Rooms, Aberdeen Arts Centre, 4 – 6 pm – the session will be flexibly structured to allow for dropping in or coming to stay for the whole session.

Tea!

Creativity in Education: Food for Thought

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Paul Gorman and Katherine Morley asked some key questions about creativity in education in their thought provoking keynote at the Aberdeen Learning Festival last week which we thought we would share here as food for thought in the run up to the CreativiTEA Rooms and the Arts Across Learning Festival:

  • “So what’s this thing called creativity and how can we best capture its power in the learning environment?”
  • “Can creativity help me see things differently?”
  • “Will creativity allow me to find new approaches to the challenges we face?”

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  • “Does creativity emerge from a shared experience or a new influence?”
  • “Can we practice and get better at being creative?”

Their presentation looked at the challenges we all face in taking risks, changing practice and using creativity in different teaching contexts, and they noted that it’s impossible to have a unified application of creativity in education, but offered suggestions of what it might look like:

  • Experimenting more
  • Adventuring into the unknown
  • Disrupting
  • Risk taking and failing
  • Placing value on the experience

They also shared some useful links from a variety of sources, more food for thought…..

People: Sugata Mitra; Susan Sontag; Richard Long; John Dewey; David Cameron (the real one)

Books: Dan Pink:  A Whole New Mind; Creative Scotland:  What is Creativity? Report (we will have some of these available in the Tea Rooms during the festival, come and pick one up!)

Web: TED talks; Shift Happens; CCE; Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

The Arts Across Learning Festival starts tomorrow and the CreativiTEA Rooms will be open Mon – Thurs 4 – 6 pm until 20 March. Come down to find out more about the festival and to chat with other artists, teachers, gallery educators and education practitioners of all stripes, about creativity in education or just about the cake. Hope to see you there!

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