Is exploration at the heart of all creativity?

6 July 2015

At the Schools Forum held last week at the Museum of London, we wanted teachers to experience the difference made by placing an exploratory impulse at the heart of a creative endeavour.

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Exploration is the act of searching for the purpose of discovery of information or resources. Creativity is the use of imagination or original ideas to create something.

We believe that putting exploration at the heart of creative endeavour makes each child and young person’s journey of discovery unique and accessible and gives them the vital tools they need for their continued learning.

At the forum held last week at the Museum of London, we wanted teachers to experience the difference made by placing an exploratory impulse at the heart of a creative endeavour and we challenged them to use creativity and technology to explore new spaces and to think about how to apply this in a relevant and engaging manner for their students. The majority of the forum was taken up with practical exercises and teachers’ own explorations.

The exercises whilst relating to the Museum of London in this case, were designed to be transferable and to empower teachers to consider how they might adapt this approach to engaging their students in their own exploratory journeys. Teachers were split into groups and each group used an Ipad and a series of links in the form of QR codes to discover four different galleries at the museum. The exercise had been inspired by a desire to recreate the feel of geocaching but in an accessible and transferable way. Full instructions on how to create QR trails can be downloaded below.

Download QR Trail Guide

Creative Programme Manager Kirsty Pattison who has previously worked at Kenwood House and The National Museum of Scotland gave the participants top tips for creating successful trails:

  1. Unique resources and setting- stimulate imaginations get students to explore the whole space - look at the architecture, ceiling etc. and look UP
  2. Free exploration- eg. find your favourite, find something strange, find something you know nothing about…
  3. Variety of excises- opportunities to draw, fill in missing date, write, act out, use senses, look closer, imagine etc.
  4. Social interaction - acting something out, taking a photo of partner in space, conversation starters, writing letters to inhabitants of space or owner of objects
  5. Seek and find- but veer away from trails where the students only have to find dates and facts, they might also focus too much on getting the right answer rather than exploring.
  6. Questioning objects- even if you can't pick it up find a really strange object or place and get them to explore its use and
  7. Purpose- develop a deeper interest, time for reflection and space for self-expression

Artist Maru Rojas had developed a number of quick activities to follow the trail. The activities were designed to be worked on whilst teachers discussed how the activities could be adapted for different ages and be given a different focus. The activities can be downloaded below.

Download Museum of London Activities

Whilst these are specific to the galleries where each group created their trail, the ideas can be adapted to suit different ages and abilities.

A final group, split into two pairs worked with Kirsty Pattison to create their own trails. Both pairs took a very different approach. One group selected the Pleasure Garden gallery for inspiration selecting this gallery because there was very little signage which would inspire children. The gallery is also very immersive and allowed for musical interpretation, written work (diary entries from a mannequin’s point of view); creating choreography and using comic strips to create dialogue. The other group used the Olympic Cauldron as inspiration taking a more sensory approach. This group imagined that they would show their students a stem from the cauldron asking them to guess what it was ahead of a visit. Further activities included dance and movement and a sensory.

Most museums have information and activities on their website which can be used ahead of time, but trails can of course be created about anywhere – they could be classroom based or go further afield, a local park, attraction, high street, museum or city all make great subjects.