for creative practice (2012)
Initially I was charged with the task of making A Handbook For Creative Practice, following on from and documenting the work that I had been heavily involved with for the previous academic year, looking at ways to make lessons or other parts of school life more creative.
I had never said no to Boswells before and I wasn’t about to, although my first thought was “if there was a (successful) method for creative practice available in book form, surely everyone would have one by now.” The work we did through Creative Partnerships was, at its heart, about real-time collaboration between the strengths of arts practitioners and educators within schools to experiment with ways to enrich school life.
The Boswells task, this last year, was about looking at ways to approach learning in the classroom (over a wide selection of subjects) that were sustainable in the sense that the skills necessary to repeat the successful outcomes would be achievable by the school staff as a self-sufficient unit, once the Creative Partnerships project finished the following year and practitioners were out of the school (in other words, once the partnership gets split).
We set up a steering group made of teachers, staff, students and arts practitioners and developed together some approaches to lessons and creativity, further moulding it to the idea that students are enabled to have further ownership over their learning. Included in this book are the projects we came up with.
My difficulty as the person putting the book together, was the title I had been given and the outcome expected. The title was A Handbook For Creative Practice, not Of Creative Practice,
and the expected outcome was that teachers with the book would have greater abilities to imbue their teaching with creativity. The problem was this: a list of projects already achieved would have a limited life; it would operate as an optional creative extension to the curriculum, for those members of staff that the projects were directly useful for. But with the material we had available, what else could be done?
My view is that for lessons or other parts of school life to be creative particularly, it requires a regular turnover of approaches. Creativity exists somehow in the process of attempting and experimenting. I needed to form a book that documented the tools we used to make our projects, more so than make lesson plans from the recent work we had done. I also needed to find ways to make the book a series of calls-to-action and reflections rather than a (false) journal on the best examples of creativity in schools.
One of the great paradoxes of this particular field is that while their are tips and tricks, creativity is often the audacity to try something different, however it comes about and then wisdom is knowing what trials are of value in hindsight.
Based on the months of work that went into our initial lesson experiments, from planning to role-out, this book tries to make available the headspace that inspiring creative work can be achieved within.
This leads on to the second problem of being charged with a book promoting Creative Practice, for what authority does anyone have to promote a creative rendering of one’s daily deeds without turning that mindset onto the deeds in hand? (In this instance, making a handbook).
So the content of this handbook is unabashedly playful at any junctures during the writing or making of it where experimentation presented itself, valuing this as most integral above the factual inclusions within, and hopefully not too often at their expense.The book is an example of creative experimentation as well as a guide to it. The results are, as always, for one to decide for themselves - in fact, you can rate it on the contents page, and on the cover.
Ultimately, creativity as a concept is about doing and trying, and–as often as possible–this book asks for the reader to do. A reader who remains merely a reader and not an engaged doer will be judging the content upon less relevent terms than I have designed for. In short, this book hails doing and activity. Creativity begins at home.
This book may succeed in enabling creative practice at The Boswells and it may have large oversights. I’ve never written a handbook before. I make music and design things. It was an experiment.