Breaking down the barriers to a Creativity Mind-Set

4 July 2017

The Creativity Mind-Set Symposium brought together a variety of arts, business and educational professionals to address the marginalisation of the arts in the UK curriculum

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The Creativity Mind-Set Symposium was co-designed in response to myself and Ally Taylor’s Masters research projects, which both addressed the problem of the marginalisation of the arts and barriers to a creativity mindset across the UK education system.

The aim of the event was to gather key stakeholders and share current research and innovative practice, as well as to collectively address and discuss potential solutions and next steps. The event was a huge success, with a wide variety of arts, business and educational professionals in attendance.

Eleanor Lanyon from the Wellcome Collection opened proceedings by discussing their workshop programme’s alignment to the 'Creativity Mind-Set'. Eleanor discussed several workshops designed to encourage creative expression and multi-perspectives in young people including ‘Body Image’, ‘HIV and Aids’ and ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’

Ally Taylor and I then presented our research projects, “Heart of the Matter” and “Drama: Useful Tool or Useless Fool?” These projects discussed key drivers of arts marginalisation across the UK education system, including:

  1. Lack of research-informed educational innovation, which has led to the implementation of discriminatory policies such as the hierarchical English Baccalaureate and Attainment 8 models, which demote the arts as lesser subjects
  2. Top-down, cautious leadership within schools and a lack of empathy and connectivity across the wider stakeholder community of a school
  3. Under-representation of everyday creativity, dynamic and critical thinking, and rich pedagogies

Dr. Henry Ward was an engaging keynote speaker who captured attendees' imaginations. He discussed his accidental rise through the ranks from art specialist to Deputy Head Teacher in charge of the curriculum, which led to his conception of ‘SciArt’ (Science and Art fusion) - a new pedagogical model that represented a creative, arts-based solution to a faltering science department. ‘SciArt’ saw lab coat wearing art teachers engage in creative, experiential learning journeys alongside students in a bid to explore science using the dynamics of art and design.

The event then moved on to the 'pink scrunch ball game' - a madcap activity designed to extract rich data and help us orientate towards some solutions for the problem at hand. Research questions were placed on pink papers, and attendees then had 30 seconds to answer the question, scrunch up the paper and throw it to another person. The next person then responded to their given answer and/or the original question in 60 seconds. The idea of the game was to dig deep and offer robust answers and realistic solutions to these key queries. The answer narratives provided great fodder for lively debate and discussion, which many attendees remarked was their favourite part of the Symposium.

Key breakthrough learning from the event included:

  1. We must continue the discussion and collaborate authentically across schools, galleries and other organisations to avoid disconnect and maximise mutual support in overcoming the marginalisation of the arts
  2. We must create the zeitgeist for purposeful change by celebrating and showcasing innovative examples of creativity-rich practice and pedagogies (such as ‘SciArt’), in order to impact policy evolution through highly accessible and engaging portals and platforms. Where possible, case studies and research should be disseminated and highly visible to all stakeholders, as well as reach those individuals and cliques who still need to be persuaded of the power and influence of arts and creativity to invigorate the 21st Century curriculum
  3. We should organise further events, and create platforms to celebrate the creativity in failure and iteration on the path to true innovation

Following the success of the event, Ally and I will be setting up a new project website and will be inviting you all to engage with this new platform to support our collective endeavours. Watch this space...

Ally Taylor was part of our 2016/17 Cultural Learning Community cohort. Click here to find out more about the programme.