Saturday 24 March 2012

Our focus this year

I've just received the Signature Pedagogies report from researchers working for CCE and shared it on the Creative Tallis website. It makes for very interesting reading and references the work that Tangled Feet theatre company did with us last summer in the lead up to the performance of 'All That Is Solid Melt Into Air' at the Greenwich + Docklands Festival. In the report, Tallis is called 'Delius High School'.

I really like the definition of pedagogy used in the report: Learning to Know, Learning to Do, Learning to Live Together and Learning to Be. The descriptions of various creative pedagogic approaches also help to capture the distinct and highly valuable contribution of visiting practitioners. The necessity of disrupting the dominant culture of prevailing orthodoxies of 'normal' classroom practice are made evident in terms of the quality of learning that takes place. These might include, for example:

  • Provocation
  • Use of artefacts 
  • Moving out of the classroom
  • Making an occasion
  • Use of ‘the texts of our lives’
  • The self as a teaching resource
  • Costume
  • Use of the body
  • Different classroom discourse patterns
  • The creation of a rich narrative environment
  • The use of professional norms
  • Alignment with disciplinary expectations
  • The valorisation of collective endeavour
  • Managing behaviour differently
  • The use of routine
  • Flexibility in pacing
  • The use of open-­‐ended challenge 
  • Building commitment to the community
  • Permission to play
Whilst these are not always beyond the realm of the classroom teacher, the report identifies some of the barriers that might prevent members of the profession from utilising a full range of these approaches, framed as they are by the "institutional context of school", "national policy", "public expectations" and "local institutional interpretations of policy and educational purposes".

I think the conclusion of the report is also spot on:

Artists arrive in schools as visitors, even if they work as artists in residence, their position is as an institutional ‘other’. They bring with them frames of reference and purposes from their life worlds, and as they and teachers work together they create more and less stable time/spaces where their frames and purposes produce new practices...We suggest that there will always be a role for artists to play in schools, as the positions of artist and teacher are not the same, not interchangeable. We have suggested that artists have much to bring to the renewal of pedagogy in the English school. To what extent teachers will be encouraged to admit them to the conversation is a question upon which much depends. 

Our current work with a range of practitioners - journalists, game and graphic designers, sculptors, dance and theatre practitioners - demonstrates the value of bringing expertise into school from outside and engaging with the institutional 'other'.

Perhaps our decision as an Action Research Group this year to pursue the twin themes of Spaces for Creativity and Students as Teachers could be informed by the continued intervention of practitioners from outside school? Part of our role then is to make a strong case for continued financial support of this process.

For access to this report and other research documents please visit the CCE website.

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