29 SES 06 A, Music and Creative Writing
A number of recent large scale arts education studies (Bamford, 2006; ACER, 2010; CCE, 2012) offer much evidence to suggest that the arts can cultivate creativity. Furthermore the literature reveals arts education positively affects student learning and holistic development.
The Irish second level education system is currently undergoing a process of enormous curricular change and reform. In October 2012, the government announced a radical reform of the Junior Cycle curriculum in its publication, A Framework for Junior Cycle. In this document, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) identify eight key principles for Junior Cycle education. The explicit inclusion of creativity as one of the key principles for Junior Cycle education is significant in three respects. Firstly, it signals that creativity is recognised as fundamental to student learning and development, secondly, it suggests a genuine commitment to fostering creativity across the curriculum and thirdly, it highlights its absence up to now. In tandem with this curricular reform, the Irish government also launched the first ever Arts in Education Charter 2013. The charter declares that creativity must be Ireland’s primary focus for the future. The charter announces its intention to place the arts at the centre of Ireland’s education system.
This paper outlines the outcomes of an evaluation of the Fighting Words creative writing model currently operating in partnerships with secondary schools in Ireland. Fighting Words is a creative writing centre for children of all ages established by well-known Irish writer Roddy Doyle in Dublin in 2009 and is inspired by the creative writing project 826 Valencia founded by American writer Dave Eggers in San Francisco (http://www.fightingwords.ie/).
The evaluation is rooted in the theorisation of creativity put forward by Craft (2001, 2010). She identifies possibility thinking as the heart of all creativity. Craft (2008) describes possibility thinking as generating a transition in understanding which builds children’s resilience, confidence and capabilities as thoughtful risk-takers, meaning makers and decision-makers. The authors of this paper argue that the concept of transition of understanding is particularly suited to frame the evaluation of the implementation of the Fighting Words model with second level students –who themselves, as adolescents, are experiencing a transitionary phase in their lives. Furthermore they see the creative writing process as intrinsically permeated with possibility thinking and its core question “what if?” (Craft, 2008) constitutes the initial engine for story writing.
This research had three main objectives:
- Seek a model for operationalising creativity (Burnard et al., 2006) in second level education in Ireland.
- Ascertain whether the introduction of the Junior Cycle revised curriculum offers richer opportunities for the injection of creativity in secondary schools in Ireland by evaluating whether features of the possibility thinking (Craft, 1999) theoretical framework can be found in the principles of the Revised Junior Cycle curriculum.
- Produce an evidence-based account of whether Fighting Words can offer a valuable and viable model for operationalising creativity in second level education in Ireland by evaluating its activities through the lens of possibility thinking and the parameters of the Revised Junior Cycle.
The research attempted to answer the following questions:
- To what extent creativity is currently promoted in second level curriculum in Ireland?
- To what extent does the Fighting Words creative writing model foster possibility thinking?
- Can the Fighting Words creative writing model be translated in the second level curriculum in Ireland?
- Can the transfer of the Fighting Words creative writing model be a vehicle for mainstreaming of possibility thinking in the Irish Second Level Curriculum?
ACER (Australian Council for Educational Research) (2010) The Arts and Australian Education: Realising Potential. Australian Education Review. Victoria: ACER Press Bamford, A. (2006). The Wow Factor: Global Research compendium on the impact of the arts in education. Munster: Waxmann Burnard, P., Craft, A. and Grainger, T. et al (2006). Possibility Thinking, International Journal of Early Years Education, Vol. 14, No. 3, October 2006 pp 243-262. CCE (Creativity, Culture and Education) (2012). Creative Partnerships: changing young lives. UK: Creativity, Culture and Education. Available from: http://www.creativitycultureeducation.org/changing-young-lives [Accessed: 21 June 2013]. Craft, A. (2001). Little c creativity. In Craft, A., Jeffrey, B. and Leibling, M. (Eds) (2001). Creativity in Education. London: Continuum. Craft, A. (2008). Creativity and possibility in the early years. Available from: http://www.tactyc.org.uk/pdfs/Reflection_craft.pdf [Accessed: 16 September 2013]. Craft, A. (2010). Possibility Thinking and Fostering Creativity with Wisdom: Opportunities and constraints in an English context. In Bhegetto, R., Kaufman, J. (Eds). Nurturing Creativity in the Classroom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pages 289-312. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Department of Education and Skills (2013). Arts in Education Charter 2013. Dublin. Fighting Words. http://www.fightingwords.ie/ [Accessed 10 June 2013]. Jacobs, C. (2000). The Evaluation of Educational Innovation, Evaluation 6 (3) 261 -280. NCCA (National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) (2012). A Framework for Junior Cycle. Dublin: Department of Education and Skills. Further refererences: Beghetto, R. A. (2005) Does assessment kill student creativity? The Educational Forum Vol. 69, 254-263 Burnard, P. (2006). Reflecting on the creativity agenda in education Cambridge Journal of Education 36, 313-318 Coolahan, J. (2008) The Changing Context of the Arts in Irish Education. Arts Council 2008. Points of Alignment: The Report of the Special Committee on the Arts and Education. Dublin. Imms, W. Jenneret, M. & Stevens-Ballenger, J. (2011) Partnerships between schools and professional arts sector: Evaluation of impact on student outcomes, Southbank, Victoria: Arts Victoria Kaufman, J. C., & Begehtto, R. A. (2009) Beyond big and little: The four c model of creativity Review of General Psychology 13, 1-12. Nicolini, M.B.(1994) Stories Can Save Us: A Defense of Narrative Writing Author(s) The English Journal, Vol. 83, (2) 56-61 Ofsted (2010) Learning: creative approaches that raise standards. Manchester: Ofsted Robinson, K. (2011) Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Oxford: Capstone Publishing Limited Torrance, E. P. (1972) Can we teach Children to think Creatively? The Journal of Creative Behaviour, 6 (2), 114-143
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