"Micah is a knitter"
That was about all we knew from the tweet on creativetallis twitter stream but it was enough to hook me. CreativeTallis is a part of one extraordinary school's social media activity I've been following for some time now.
Most schools now have something called a Virtual Learning Environment. It's a bit like an intranet but with some real web functions like blogging and podcasting. Personally I don't quite understand their purpose. If you want young people to experience the potential of broadcasting and publishing their work 'out there' then in my view the internet is the better way to do it. I appreciate schools have a responsbility for safety, which means many still sit behind resilient local authority firewalls with not much of the real world getting in or out. But if young people are going to access the web anyway in their own time, and they are, is it not more responsbile to help them understand how to do that safely, rather than pretend the world wide web isn't really there?
And so CreativeTallis (actually Thomas Tallis school in London) is a leader in this approach for schools in my view. They present a range of websites, blogs, twitter streams, webcasts and more. In the past I've watched them create a 3D city-scape thorugh a live webcast, and been able via twitter, to ask them questions about what they were doing and why, and have students reply to my questions in real time. Through this kind of innovative approach, the school is able to demonstrate how students learn with a passion and excitement, stimulating curiosity and sharing, celebrating and exploring individuality. Importantly students are encouraged to help steer and develop their own learning, and have the know-how to recognise and reflect on their experiences.
And so it is I knew that unusually, Micah is a knitter, would be the starting point to find out more about one student's experience of education. Micah is also a person, an individual, and knows how to celebrate that thanks to the realistic, practical, relevant, yet utterly 'out-there' work of his school.
The DCSF recently released this guide to learning, playing and interacting in Early Years.
It's my belief that a huge amount of good practice in early years learning and development can be transfered to older age ranges and indeed other non-education work. The general premise of creative exploration as a means to find out and enjoy all the opportunities that are out there must be a effective approach for anybody.
Jo Graham of Learning Unlimited, who has significant experience of working with early years development particularly in the South of England, and especially with museums, talks more about the values of the publication and how mow museums staff might use it in their thinking and planning...
The final project I'm publishing recruitment details for. A city centre Manchester school are looking for an inspiring creative practitioner to help them get to grips with ICT and new media through story telling of some of the many cultures present in their children's lives.
Full details available to download below.
Deadline: Monday 14th December
Creative Practitioner wanted for transfering early years / child-led learning approach to a year 3 classroom.
Another creative practitioner is required, this time for a primary school in Wilmslow, Cheshire, who want to take some of the best practice of early years activity and find appropriate ways to transfer this to their year 3 (age 7) class.
We're anticipating this person might be an early years creativity / early arts specialist who can trial how this approach might work in a classroom with older children; or a creative pedagog who is able to bring expertise of child-led learning to creative curriculum exploration in the classroom.
Full details available to download below.
Deadline: Fri 11th December
As part of a project I'm overseeing in North Manchester / Rochdale, the school I'm working with is looking to recruit a creative practioner who can explore sensory creativity with primary aged special needs and mainstream children.
We're particularly interested in finding someone who can include visual art / design / craft in the work, and possibly include the school's outdoor spaces, potentially developing temporary additions to these spaces. Full details available to download below.
Deadline for applications: Friday 11th December
Creative practitioner wanted for a project I'm overseeing with two primary schools in Cheshire.
We're looking for someone interested in collaborating with teachers and children to develop children's thinking skills, working with a theme of The Great Outdoors, who can explore geography and cross-curricular ideas, and knows about, or is prepared to learn from a lead teacher about Independent Thinking Skill techniques.
Full details available to download below. The deadline is Thursday 10th December.
There will be some more of these briefs appearing over the next few days so keep looking.
Creative & Cultural Skills, the national development body for the areas I and many others work in, recently announced their new Standards for Creative & Cultural Industries. Including one for Standards in Freelancing.
Not a bad idea I thought, it would be good to have something official to aspire to. Then I opened it. It's 92 pages long. That's a heck of a lot of standards. I'm sure they're all admirable. I just question whether in this current climate of time -poor stretched working for many, is 92 pages a realistic sized document to expect people to read?
There are 62 overarching standards, each with a range of bullet pointed sub-standards. I can only say for the time being that I aim to read them and that when I do I'm sure I'll wholeheartedly agree with some and raise a questioning eybrow over others.
But meanwhile I'll be focussing on meeting deadlines for the clients who pay me to read and work on other documents. So who knows how long it will take to get through those 62 standards and report back on my responses...
Image: sadly not my office, but the wonderful work of atelierpompadour
The Equality & Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have launched a new set of resources for teachers.
A series of topics use the arts as a basis for exploring citizenship scenarios with pupils. There are seven suggested topics, created to support schools entering this years's EHRC Young Brits at Art awards. However the resources are freely available for anyone to access and are relevant to anyone working with young people.
Each topic includes background ideas and information for teachers, an example scenario for teachers and pupils to explore together, and describes the work of a number of contemporary artists working in ways relevant to the topic outlined.
The topics include:
Your Rights - stemming from the United Nations Rights of a Child the topic explores the theme human rights and children's rights.
Homophobic Bullying - exploring homophobic bullying in schools and other places young people meet.
Class Divides Our Futures - asks about how children and young people become judged and channelled into certain schools, roles and careers based on perceptions about their social class.
Staying On - looks at implications for young people in terms of changes to the law about their education and training.
Wild Child - explores adult misconceptions compared to the realities of children's and young people's behaviour.
Creativity as Empowerment - how can we use creativity to remove barriers for people with disabilities?
Awards information here
I was with a student on Tuesday who reminded me of that old phenomenom - when you learn a new word you suddenly see and hear it everywhere.
We’d just finished a TV Production masterclass by a wonderfully inspiring Producer called Jayne Brierley who I brought into a project I’m managing for a group of 14 year old Creative & Media Diploma students.
Emily’s word was ‘vox-pops’ which having freshly learned meant the popular voice, from Jayne, she saw again during break time in Heat magazine.
It happened to me too. I’ve started managing some action research projects with primary schools, taking on the role of part broker, part critical friend, part provocateur.
One of the teachers I’m working explained she wanted to use the Bloom’s Taxonomy model to explore children’s thinking skills and independence. I nodded for a while before working up courage to ask what she was talking about (because sometimes when you’re brought in as the external consultant people assume you know more than them, and look at you oddly when it turns out you just know differently, not more). Luckily my group of teachers are wonderful and sharing and not at all judgemental; she showed me some templates she had and so I learned about Blooms Taxonomies.
One week later I happened to read a friend’s blog, someone who is at the starting point of creating a new business which marries education and corporate social responsibility, over in Calgary.
As part of her work she’s taking a course which was linked to on her blog, so I clicked through and hey presto - there’s that Blooms Taxonomy stuff again.
As it turns out, on further exploration, I already knew about the Bloom’s Taxonomy model, I just didn’t know that was its name.
It happens to me fairly often that what I know from experience turns out to have a theory, theorists and framework already quietly backing up my own findings. There’s something in there about the balance of theory and practice - for another day…
Umbro Industries is a new initiative from Umbro geared towards giving potential Manchester based creators the financial backing they need.
"You know how it is: you've a great idea for an exhibition, a gig, a club night or project, you've got the contacts and you need to make it happen, you just need a little helping hand. That's where Umbro Industries comes in. If your idea is fresh, and your drive and devotion to create is infectious, then we'll get behind you".
I recently met one of the Umbro team involved in this programme and they're really fired up and passionate about support the cultural and creative development of young people across the city. I believe they mean business, and it's great to see a private company putting their money where their mouth is in this way.
I'm always interested in new ways to present information. People often don't have the time or inclination to read text heavy pages. Wordle is a great online application for creating visualisations of words known as Word Clouds. This illustration shows which terms become prioritised out of a number of different definitions of public engagement. As a tool for instantly starting to draw out key themes I find it works really well.
An introduction to evaluation with some examples of how to avoid too much form-filling and tick-boxing, thank goodness.
Image:Jan Stadtmann from ‘Quatre Mains’ Andrew Dawson & Sven Till for ‘The Articulate Hand’, Wellcome Trust public programme
In order to create and lead some workshops / training about Public Engagement, on behalf of Flow Associates, I put a quick call out to the GEM (Group for education in Museums) list which came up trumps with a wealth of resources streaming in from some kind people who took a minute out to share what they knew.Thanks - here’s what was collated, hope it’s useful to others too:
I'm most interested in how the public, your public, whoever that may be, engages with culture and creativity.
And if it nurtures creativity and develops personal, social or professional skills I'm absolutely all ears.