Anna Craft Creativites in Education Prize

 

 

 

 

 

2018

The 2018 Anna Craft Creativities in Education Prize was awarded to Tracey Hayes, University of Cumbria for her paper Responsive, responsible research: Lexi’s Story.

The abstract follows:

“In this session we will explore creative methods for sharing research that are responsive and responsible. This is based on my recently completed doctoral research, which was a transdisciplinary exploration of young people’s relationship with nature. I looked at a range of facilitated programmes that offered outdoor learning opportunities and explored what young people thought of their experiences. The focus of my study was to find a way to research and analyse how experiences such as these can enable young people to develop a positive, personally meaningful relationship with nature, and then to make use of this learning to inform policy and practice (see Hayes et al., 2016). Themes that emerged highlighted the role of the practitioner/facilitator; peer, family and school pressures to ‘grow-up’, and be responsible; the importance of playfulness (Hayes, 2016/2015), kindness (Hayes, 2017), responsiveness (Hayes, 2013), comfort and belonging. Making use of data elicited through a mix of participant observations, informal interviews, conversations and anecdotes, I created stories based on these experiences. Embracing the use of everyday language, I have focused on small, intimate, personal stories – the kinds of stories that tend to get lost amongst bigger, less subjective studies. And I centralise them within my presentations and published work. This has the specific purpose of enabling me to adopt a young-person centred approach to both conducting my research, and to the outputs developed from it.

Although there has been movement in recent years towards adopting a more inter/transdisciplinary, creatively interpretive approach to research, this is still seen as controversial, arguably undisciplined, and is not generally accepted by policy makers as a credible method. There is still a political preference for more traditional, quantifiable and, in my opinion, simplistic methods, which ignore (or at the very least limit) the complexity, the nuance, the messiness and funniness of what we are studying. I find this unethical and more to the point, unkind to those we are studying. I argue that this is an area that warrants further research and publication: we have a responsibility to keep up the momentum of challenge, and to promote more caring, humane ways to conduct and present research.

In this spirit, I will share with you one of my stories to exemplify how this approach can be effective for presenting findings and for generating discussions with a range of audiences (student, academic, practitioners and public). The words directly attributed to Lexi (pseudonym) are taken from the interview recording, used in the sequence in which they occurred, although they have been ‘tidied up’ within the spirit of creative nonfiction (see, for example, Cheney, 2001; Gutkind, 1997). I will share it here in a non-extrapolated manner to show you what I have found, rather than to tell you (after Ingold, 2000). This is an approach advocated by both Pelias (2004, p1) as a way of inviting ‘identification and empathetic connection’ and Sparkes (2007, p522), in that in this format, the tale ‘…simply asks for your consideration’. It does not linger on methodology or theoretical concepts, instead, leaving it open to your interpretation. I look forward to your response.”

2017

We are delighted to announce that the Anna Craft Prize for 2017 was awarded to Jo  Trowsdale, University of Warwick.

The title of her paper ‘Beyond creativity and cognition: Emergent ideas about the body in learning’ explores a number of key issues advancing creativities research. The abstract follows.

‘Educational research has paid minimal attention to the role of the body in learning. Whilst Cartesian dualism, of a mind and body functioning separately and hierarchically, is out-dated, ‘cognition’ still dominates the conception and design of education systems worldwide. Typical school spaces, curriculum and pedagogy attest that interactive, movement-based or hands-on practices are not considered central to learning in high status subjects. Indeed they often suggest that the body is best stilled to aid the mind. Where the body is explicitly involved in learning, for example through arts-based or creative approaches, this tends to be justified on the grounds of supporting cognitive learning, or in distinct, often lower status subjects, offered as an attempt to ‘balance’ the curriculum. These are seen to be largely peripheral to serious aspects of learning. Arguments for learning as an embodied and social process, where mind, body and emotions are understood to interact, to affect and be affected by others have been advanced by educationalists such as Dewey, Vygotsky. Practice based models have also been proposed, such as those developed by Steiner or Montessori, for example. However practice that realises such a view is more likely to be found in early years settings and perhaps in vocational education, but is rarely evident during mainstream compulsory schooling from late childhood.

This paper utilises and theoretically reflects upon a case study reported previously by the author. It argues that the somatic and affective are undervalued and underdeveloped in learning, and warrant review. The crafting and channelling of sensory and emotional impulses in practice-based learning models, such as experienced in and through the arts, offers a valuable starting point for such a review. In art-making pupils’ somatic and affective dimensions, naturally evident in ‘life learning’, are channelled and disciplined through practice and thereby become central to learning. The paper draws explicitly on emerging discourses in the cognitive sciences which increasingly recognise the significance of sensory and motor systems for thought and feeling as integrated processes: that the senses of the human body interactively ‘sense-make’. Here the somatic and affective are generators of knowledge – tacit, instinctive and immediate – which inform and shape cognition. This paper advances a ‘third way’ for viewing the body in education, beyond being a handmaiden for cognition or peripheral ‘balance’. Here the somatic and affective are intrinsically valuable, generating particular insights which are also integral to the complex processes of thinking and learning.’

Jo Trowsdale is Principal Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Education Studies at the University of Warwick. Her educational research interests are largely concerned with creativity, art-making, professional artist and educator collaborations. She is currently completing her doctorate investigating art-making as a site and practice for education. She is a co-author on the BERA Commission into STEAM (science, technology, arts, maths and engineering) education. www.jotrowsdale.wordpress.com   @jotrowsdale