Anna Craft Creativites in Education Prize







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.   @jotrowsdale