Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


As a child in a crowded classroom you may often feel that there is no time for what you have to say, and that your ideas or thoughts can get lost. While no one can easily resolve the problem of large classes and time constraints, having a sketch book space can offer the flexibility and freedom to think personally and creatively. This is a place where the individual child’s voice matters.

Every child needs to have a voice and to know that it is being respected and valued. If children feel that what they say matters and has relevance, they are more likely to engage with the process of learning. As their confidence grows they feel able to take risks, and learn that building from ‘mistakes’ can have a positive outcome.

Monday, 15 November 2010

on creativity

On Creativity

Here are an exciting selection of inspiring thoughts from the teachers, creative practitioners and LEA staff who attended exciting minds.
'Being creative is what makes us human, who we are. If you can’t even imagine how to get out of bed then you don’t exist. It’s as fundamental as that.'
Claire Marshall, Creative Director, ArtSites Birmingham

'How do you extend creativity across the curriculum? Creativity shouldn’t be in the domain of purely artistic disciplines. It’s about making teachers and pupils aware of creativity through collaboration – seeing traditional disciplines in different ways.'
Graeme Rose, Education Co-ordinator, Stan’s CafĂ©

'Creativity is about original thought. It’s important to instill this in young people at an early age - that they should challenge and test what’s already happening, their own abilities. Creativity goes hand in hand with education and in order to have original thinking you have to have imagination.'
Kirstie Davis, Associate Director, Watford Palace Theatre

'From a creative point of view you try and make the curriculum fun and exciting for the kids. Making it more pupil centred, they will begin to take responsibility for their own learning, which should have an overall impact on their performance.'
Helen O’Brien, Teacher, Clavering Primary School, Hartlepool

'Creativity and learning are the same thing. When we learn it’s a very active process of making meaning and sense. There is a strong case for saying the two things are indistinguishable. So to talk about uncreative learning is as silly as talking about passive learning. What people from creative backgrounds can tell us is that there are many forms in which creative learning can manifest itself.'
Miles Tandy, Aspect Leader Curriculum and Pedagogy, Warwickshire County Council

'Learning comes from the inner depths of yourself, the soul. If you feel proud of yourself and have self esteem then the sky’s the limit. You can take charge of your learning and you’re happy with your learning. It’s all about trying to get the disengaged engaged. It’s difficult but through creativity it’s possible.'
Tony Metcalfe, Head Teacher, Clavering Primary School, Hartlepool

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

conversations with teachers

The use of sketchbooks as a means of exploring personal identity, a journey a response to and through a visual world during teenage years is vital to an individuals sense of being on this planet and its social order. 
Their reaction to peer pressure levels, and their engagement or lack of engagement via personal choice and selection is all part and parcel of this fantastic visual tool. It should look like a treasure trove of a mystical land the outpourings of each individual mind, with glued and torn and tattered edges remnants of meals and experiences littering its personal pages.

Journeys taken meeting the end of the road until a new bypass in understanding is found and the journey can continue once more. Where sketchbooks are these rich tapestries of personal expression they serve an arts purpose. 
In secondary education often another purpose is served that of documenting the journey to a final examination peice like a well laid out spoon-fed logical essay, pride is taken in getting this pristine book correct to tick all the examination assessment objective requirements, it serves an artistic purpose.
 Where the sketchbook is purely a once a week homework book set by the teacher marked with a quick comment it becomes a book with pages torn out where mistakes are made,or grades are poor, it is book that is the cause of detention for not being handed in on time and is frequently lost and replaced by the teacher. It is shoved in the bottom of a bag or in a locker down the corridor never to be seen again, what artistic purpose does this serve?


  • “The creative mind plays with the things it loves.”
  • Carl Jung

  • “Genius is childhood regained at will”
  • Baudelaire

Monday, 8 November 2010

creative learning journals

What are the main benefits of using sketchbooks throughout primary?

Using a journal allows the children to take control over their own learning, offering a space for idea development, exploration, play and self evaluation and reflection. Reluctant writers are encouraged to make marks, give meaning and tell stories in a none threatening and creative space. It a space they have control and ownership over and is therefore more engaging and inspiring. If we are involved, have a personal interest and emotional connection with our learning then we are less stressed and under less pressure and ultimately content. Under these conditions I believe we learn

How exactly are they used throughout each school, how much say does each teacher have in how they are used?

Some schools are using the books as diary spaces alone, offering time to the children where they reflect on the day, with a focus on what they have learnt. This may be in the academic or the emotional curriculum. They are not simply written accounts of the day, with focus set on full stops and capital letters but often pictorial representations or poetry, collage or mark making or colour expressive responses.

Other schools keep track of the learning in history, geography or p s c h e learning in art ideas books and journals. Here the art schemes are strategically linked the subject, extending the opportunities for learning with arts activities that have an output that can be recorded in the books. Sometimes visual, sometimes written, often both. Drama lessons linked to an historic focus might be summed up in the journal using collage techniques, music lessons may be incorporated into visual art lessons, combining text and image, then extended into ICT work. The important aspect of this, is that the journal becomes a way of tracking the learning journey. True cross curricular work.

Are parents involved?

We have started running workshops with parents at nursery level to introduce them to the techniques and power of journal keeping with their children. I believe this can be abn important bridge between school and community. family history projects and local focus work is a great way of developing understanding in a cross cultural context. Sharing work with one and other through the books, having school events where the work is exhibited, has also added weight and importance to their use

Do children take their books home?

Children do not take the book home but are encouraged to bring in things from home that are inked to the learning. Challenges are often set to try and encorporate something from home into the book, in a creative way, sewing collaging, scanning, layering etc.

Do children use them as unique, personal books at all or are they always based in aspects of the curriculum?

I try to find a relevance in the learning so a learner becomes empathetic, therefore bridging or connecting the person with the subject. This works in particular with historic learning, thematically. Transition, war, migrancy, social order, power, relationships.

What are the costs involved?
Commitment and time. Cost are minimal

how not to make orange

How not to make orange

A beginner’s guide

Scenario; year 4 girl with statement for special educational needs works with support worker colour mixing.

Adult; ‘Right, it’s our job to make orange, what colours do you think we need to make orange?
Let’s start with yellow, what shall we add to yellow to make orange?’

Child picks up brush and heads straight for the blue

Adult; ‘remember, ( pause ) we are making orange

Child looks at the adult and without losing eye contact moves toward the black with the brush.

Adult, showing slight signs of panic in her voice, ‘Black?  (pause) In yellow? ( tries to control her horror)  Oh that would make a messy colour wouldn’t it?

Child still hasn’t said anything or made a mark on the paper

Adult; how about you trying some red?

Child dips in red and mixes orange

Adult breathes sigh of relief and says to the child, ‘Yes, well done you did it!’

Objective achieved?