Creativity as Practice

Creating a self-portrait, session 1, September 2018

Developing sustainable creative practice in primary school educators

CCI began working alongside staff from St John’s College School (Cambridge) in September 2018. Our focus is on developing the educators own creative practice through an extended programme of 6 workshops spread through the year. The process is supported with readings and guided reflections.

The development of this new programme has been informed by CCI’s current practice, as well as the evaluations and learning from Creativity as Practice, an accredited professional course we designed in conjunction with colleagues at the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education in 2005.  

The original course and subsequent programme was prompted by feedback from educators who attended an exhibition and series of event in 2004 - Hundred Languages of Children, attended by over 2,000 people. The over-riding question posed by the exhibition evaluation was how could educators work with their own creativity once artists ‘have left the room’.  1

The aims of the new programme are as follows:

  • To support the development of sustainable creative practices in educators
  • To explore the inter-disciplinary strategies that contemporary artists use in their own socially-engaged practice and their relevance to the practice of educators
  • To support an inquisitive and exploratory approach to children’s learning through play and experimentation
  • To offer educators an opportunity to work with artists
  • To engage both artists and educators in a process that involves their own professional development and their own creativity
  • To develop a dialogic approach between educators and artists with children at the heart of the process
  • To develop a group of like-minded educators who can support each other.

I think it’s like a fuse being ignited because once you start with it, everything you do you think about in a different way…..It makes you rethink everything and kind of question are you really doing it in the best way you can….It’s having time, being guided. This is your time to think about these things because on an everyday basis you get caught up with your routine and your private life…..It was almost like visiting yourself - I felt like I was visiting myself every week – I just felt like I’d met myself again.

Teacher’s feedback, Creativity as Practice course2

An article from the Refocus Journal by Andrea Gray, Early Years Advisory Teacher, and Jane Stewart, Training Co-ordinator of Brent Early Years Service, on their own experiences on a similar course is here.

1Enemies of Boredom, Evaluation report of Hundred Languages of Children exhibition
2Igniting a Fuse: developing the creative practice of primary educators (an evaluation of CCI’s Creativity as Practice cpd course), 2008, published by Creative Partnerships ISBN 978-0-7287-1391-8

Inside the teacher there is the person

21/05/2019

Developing Practice with artist Filipa Pereira Stubbs in May

Developing Practice with artist Filipa Pereira Stubbs in May

Materials – paper, pencils, scissors, pens, tape, readings from CAP course, images from CAP workshops, My Map Book by Sara Fanelli, Amulet by Ted Hughes

Inside the teacher there is the person
Inside the person there is the desire for freedom
Inside the desire for freedom there is restriction
Inside the restriction there is hope
Inside the hope there is time
Inside the time there is a thousand ideas
Inside the thousand ideas there is self-doubt
Inside the self-doubt there is support
Inside the support there is laughter
Inside the laughter there is the person
Inside the person there is the teacher

Kim

This reflective session explored the course and what it has meant to the group  - This is about how we approach life… I sometimes feel lost as a teacher … I don’t want to lose the conversations and qualities of CAP….the natural world featured so much … I feel more muddled now than I did at the start but in a good way… it’s important to make mistakes…. pressure comes from our own anxieties to get things right…. trust goes two ways – trusting us but also trusting the children.

We thought together about what qualities need to stay at St John’s now that the CAP course is finishing.  Together the group agreed these were:

Ways of seeing and expressing/expression of emotion (re-imagining)
Circle of trust
Experiential/materiality
Different perspectives
Sharing and talking
Freedom
Permission
Slowliness and reflection

Working in small groups we took time to map what these qualities meant and how they can be connected

Working in small groups we took time to map what these qualities meant and how they can be connected – a tree of reflections grew. The group agreed that a creative space for them as educators needed these key qualities:

Time to think and reflect together
To be a blank canvas – ideally be big and empty and white with lots of good quality papers
Have spaces to walk in/around and to spread out in
Comfort
Offer inspiration and resources/ideas/prompts for thinking – windows are important
Bring the outside in
Allow us to be mindful of each other/atune to each other

Our reflections kept circling back to listening and we remembered some of Carlina Rinaldiā€™s words on the pedagogy of listening

Our reflections kept circling back to listening and we remembered some of Carlina Rinaldi’s words on the pedagogy of listening (a reading from earlier in the course):

How can we define the term listening?

Listening as sensitivity to the patterns that connect, to that which connects us to others; abandoning ourselves to the conviction that our understanding and our own being are but small parts of a broader, integrated knowledge that holds the universe together.

Listening, then, as a metaphor for having the openness and sensitivity to listen and be listened to – listening not just with our ears, but with all our senses (sight, touch, smell, taste, orientation).

Listening to the hundred, the thousand languages, symbols, and codes we use to express ourselves and communicate, and with which life expresses itself and communicates to those who know how to listen.
*

* from Carla Rinaldi’s chapter “Documentation and Assessment: What is the Relationship?” in Project Zero and Reggio Children (2001): Making learning visible: Children as individual and group learners. Reggio Emilia, Italy: Reggio Children.

Having listened to the Ted Hughes poem, everyone wrote their own ‘amulet’ poem to take forward into the future, drawing on the tree of reflections.

Reimagining the familiar

29/04/2019

Session 5 with artist Sally Todd in April

Materials – paper, pencils, maps, inks, mirrors, glue sticks and natural materials from garden

We were exploring ideas of knowing a place, of fantastical mapping and adventuring and approaches to creative place-making. We thought about maps as a visual and symbolic representation of physical space or body of knowledge, as impression, memory or feeling and, working in pairs, created new maps of the outside spaces of the school.

Walking first gave me space to think.

The garden was a lot louder than I thought

I can feel very inhibited when I draw but here the materials were free ….. It was good to be reminded not to think about my classroom – I feel free and playful and had fun.

Reimagining the familiar

Reimagining the familiar

Reimagining the familiar

Reimagining the familiar

Reimagining the familiar

Reimagining the familiar

Exploring the unexpected

11/02/2019

Session 4 with artist Caroline Wendling in February

List for exercise 1

Materials – paper, pencils, graphites, crayons, pastels, felt-tips, fluorescent pens, charcoal, chalk, glue sticks and tissue paper

Taking a still life of unexpected objects as a starting point and the practice of artist John Cage

Taking a still life of unexpected objects as a starting point and the practice of artist John Cage to use games to determine his work. We thought about ideas of collaboration and exchange after drawing with rules created by the group and dictated by a dice, reflecting on ideas of constraint versus freedom. We asked does it matter who makes the rules.

Taking a still life of unexpected objects as a starting point and the practice of artist John Cage

The final drawings were created with messages from other minds.

I appreciated the value of role play – it’s powerful as it doesn’t matter…you can be someone else.

Everyday something unexpected presents itself in my classroom.

I was thinking differently, exploring life from a different character.

Drawings created with messages from other minds

Drawings created with messages from other minds

Space

09/01/2019

Session 3 with artist Filipa Pereira Stubbs in January 2019

Materials - paper, pastels, sound, space, curious and natural objects (some wrapped),  books (some wrapped), postcards, quotes from CAP readings

Thinking about space - clearing, arriving, moving through, settling, playing, beginning, connecting, undoing and remaking. Noticing individuality and differences.

15 very individual plans to connect objects, words and images - all shared below - were created during the session.

Next time I will think about the environment and how to adapt to different learners…….and I will keep the lights off.

Teachers working

Teachers working

Teachers working

Teachers working

Children Leading

01/10/2018

Session 2 with artist Caroline Wendling in October 2018
Materials – sand, sticks, paper, string, wool

Thinking about how children can lead; questions of control and ownership and collaboration, looking for big ideas and the challenges of creating sufficient time given time-tabling pressures.

 
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