Since the lockdown and closure of schools to the majority of pupils brought about the sudden out-sourcing of education to everyone, education shifted overnight from being something that happens in schools, mostly of concern to teachers and briefly to parents for the time that their child passes through the system, into open space and of interest to everyone.
We work closely with practitioners and partners from the creative, arts, and cultural sector. Here are two blogs posts that provide insights surrounding agency, creative learning, and productivity.
“A stopped clock is right twice a day”
– Lewis Carroll
Does life under lockdown feel like a stopped clock to you? Who knows – feelings are capricious these days and mutate on the hour. Or maybe it feels more like a pause, like the old business cliché about change, a comma as opposed to a full stop. Coronavirus has certainly enforced a slowing down, a global grinding of gears towards hiatus, blank space, lacunae. However, our beloved, maligned natures, re-appearing as quickly as the startled deer in Asda car parks, abhors their new-found vacuums. Or so we’re told. A real stopped clock, officially sanctioned, would have been intolerable to our authorities.
Every pupil currently enrolled in school across the UK has only ever known Austerity.
Austerity was a deliberate cull of public spending, made possible by the distraction of a crisis. What was unacceptable was accepted – because we were told there was ‘no money’.
People often use the phrase ‘it’s like learning to ride a bike’ to describe something you learn and never forget. So why is it every time I ride my bike I seem to forget how to work the gears?
For weeks on end we’ve been listening to and talking about the dangers of Covid-19 which has fuelled fear and anxiety in our society. But I want to look through another lens and share my experience of the benefits of the Coronavirus pandemic.
THE BEGINNING OF MAKING IT NEW
“It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men [sic] suffer miserably every day
of what is found there.”
Asphodel, That Greeny Flower and Other Love Poems – William Carlos Williams
You’ll never amount to anything.
My primary five teacher did not have high expectations of myself and my nine-year-old classmates. But it wasn’t our fault, he said. It was our primary two teacher to blame, he said. I don’t recall exactly what it was she had done to ruin the life chances of our entire class but I remember marvelling at her ability to play the guitar and the way her dangly earrings used to sway in time to the music. They were shaped like fish. That’s the extent of my memory of primary two.
It’s interesting how life has turned upside down, but I feel like it’s all very peaceful. In these early stages, I am transported back to the two years I spent teaching in a rural boarding school in Southern Africa. Life was very much about living the school as a community – life amongst pupils, staff and their families, no other towns or shops for a three hour back of van ride away… appreciating time outdoors, sunsets, meaningful communication with others and time to just be. No social media competition with other schools, no constant extra initiatives that were pushed, no constant communication, no constant racing of the mind and body… I already feel healthier in so many ways – surely I can make changes for the better in my life.
On my way home on the day my school closed I was reflecting how strange it was that the things we had been discouraged or disallowed from spending our PEF budgets on were exactly what we were going to need right now. Resilience, wellbeing and creativity.
The Bruce had his spider, Burns had his mouse, I seem to have a skip. Not that I want to put myself into the same historical significance as Robert the Bruce and Robert Burns, but I think I share their love of a story and a metaphor. It just so happens my story and my metaphor are centred on a skip that doesn’t seem to be going away!!!
During these strange times we believe individual stories can help the collective find new ways of working. We invited Katy Anderson, a teacher in Blackburn Primary, to reflect on how she prepared her class to continue to learn and grow through periods of uncertainty. This is her and her pupils story . . .
It probably took me ‘til Wednesday to figure out no matter how many 6am runs I did, I had to address some serious concerns within my mind and soul. I had spent Monday and Tuesday in a constant state of panic – my body and mind was in fight mode. I had ordered a skip to be delivered on Monday morning as for the first time in two years, I actually had some free time to empty our garage. Myself and my partner had decided what house jobs could be done, how we would maintain our son’s mobility needs, and nailed the home learning plan for our daughter. Unconsciously I had made my life busy, because I hadn’t learned how to stop. This is the story of my learning.
This week we are excited to collaborate with two internationally recognised and outstanding Scottish cultural organisations: Room 13 from Fort William and Jupiter Artland on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Our event is part of the brilliant Firestarer festival curated by the Scottish Government. We will gather 30 people at Jupiter for an afternoon of brainwash proofing in an attempt to be the architects of a new education system. Here’s some more information:
One of our associate practitioners, Jack Stancliffe, is about to start a collaboration with a school involved in our ‘What you shouldn’t do in a school’ project. We asked him to reflect on the journey ahead . . . .
Some rules have been written down for centuries, others exist in folklore, whilst a few are conveniently made up on the spot. Rules have the capacity to liberate or constrict. They help us understand who we are and pave the way for what we will become. But are we all clear on the rules that govern our classrooms, staffrooms and playgrounds? What if we started to question them – to discover what you should and shouldn’t do at school???
Recently Hidden Giants devoted a morning to work with the entire staff of a large primary school – a school the size of three, four or five primary schools.
We asked the staff to place themselves into their teams – their own notion of who they worked with, in their perceived role(s) within the school. We saw a group of 40 people immediate disperse and rearrange themselves into specialist areas.
Maybe your brain doesn’t wander like mine but I recently considered the question: would a butterfly make a good teacher in a caterpillar school?
Recently, we invited 29 educational professionals from an inner-city primary school, to go for a silent walk with us. The purpose of the walk was to facilitate a conversation around the curriculum, and teacher agency. But what actually happened was completely unexpected. As seasoned educational facilitators, practitioners and consultants, we knew it was something amazing.
I first read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when I was 22 in a backpackers’ hostel somewhere in Canada. I could perhaps be a little embarrassed to reveal that I was reading Harry Potter at the age of 22, but the reality was up until that point I had never found reading enjoyable. Throughout school, college and university I experienced reading to be perfunctory, just about tolerable, and always dictated by someone else.