Finding the best approach to our Professional Development Courses for Teachers: Experiencing the Creative Process in visual arts programmes in schools and ECE centres.
Mandy Jakich CEO Creative Matters
This past 10 months has been a year of research and development with the PD courses I am running for teachers and I've seen it like this from the beginning. Good things take time and it's important to modify, refine, adapt until the courses we offer are the most relevant, accessible, applicable and inspiring for teachers.
I have facilitated courses at primary schools on Teacher Only Days, at schools over 2 consecutive staff meetings, at Studio One Toi Tu on Saturdays and at Kohia Centre, The University of Auckland, working with PCTs and registered teachers.
Our courses reinforce the importance of valuing the entire creative process of exploring, experimenting, reflecting, problem solving, sharing, creating. Not just a focus on heading straight to the final artistic product and with an emphasis on creative and critical thinking.
I have loved seeing the joy and satisfaction teachers have experienced throughout, seeing them leave the course with a new found confidence to tackle art lessons with their classes using this creative, open, curriculum based approach.
From all these experiences and interactions with teachers, I have come away with more questions than I started with!
I'm in the process of modifying some of our courses to best meet teachers' needs so watch this space - more courses will be announced soon for term 4 and 2020!
Any ideas, feedback or suggestions? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below.
Esteemed educator and author Sir Ken Robinson believes "Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status." also stating "we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it". For more on this I'd recommend watching his well known Ted Talk DO SCHOOLS KILL CREATIVITY, given in 2006 and now the most watched Ted Talk in history with over 50 million views.
Admired artist Pablo Picasso was on a similar wave length many years earlier believing "every child is an artist - the problem is to remain an artist once they grow up." He never did a Ted Talk sadly.
When I started my business Creative Matters in 2016 my goal was to create more opportunities for children and adults to get creative in a supportive, nurturing environment.
Our after school art classes www.creativematters.co.nz/art-workshops-after-school.html and holiday art workshops www.creativematters.co.nz/holiday-workshops-for-children.html are taught in a way that encourages creativity and values the creative process, allowing participants to explore, experiment, create, reflect and share - as well as teaching to encourage creative thinking (and simultaneously critical thinking):
And now Creative Matters has the privilege of also working with ECE and Primary/Intermediate teachers, facilitating courses that allow participants to personally experience each part of this process and reflect on how it makes them feel and how it affects their approach, thinking, results and learning, giving them the tools and the motivation to take the ideas back to their classroom and implement them. www.creativematters.co.nz/pd-for-teachers.html
With feedback like this from the Deputy Principal at Waitakere Primary School - The teachers were engaged and highly motivated as evidenced by the way the majority of our staff utilised all they learnt with you into their classroom programmes immediately - I might just be on the way to achieving my goal.
One of my favourite parts of my role as managing director of Creative Matters is helping artists and designers to connect with the community, working with them to create a workshop or programme concept and helping them to make it happen. We are lucky to have a wonderful community venue available to us, Kumeu Arts Centre, as well as access to other cool venues around Auckland, and a strong artistic community to draw from.
One example of this positive process is the work we are doing with Muriwai Beach (NZ) artist Samantha Stokes stokedsamantha.com/. Sam is preparing for a show at Kumeu Arts Centre early-mid July and approached us to discuss the possibility of running 2 Creative Matters workshops for children in conjunction with her exhibition, as part of our Holiday Programme. Her work is centered around celebrating the wilderness of New Zealand and this series focuses on the vibrancy and spirit of our animals and landscapes. Each work highlights a native animal and the environment they live in. Some of the animals depicted are thriving, others are endangered and in need of our respect. We brainstormed to work out a way we could incorporate her show with an art experience for children/teens, whilst also educating children around NZ marine life. As a past art educator at Auckland Art Gallery, I love the great synergy between observing and discussing work in a Gallery and art making. Watch this space for more info on Sam's workshops and show in the term 2 holidays.
Art practitioner/curator/facilitator and Creative Matters art tutor Anna Hanson has designed a workshop for us called The Department of Repair - Explorations of the fundamentals of darning, visible mending, hemmed patch and creative stitch, which we ran as a one off workshop for adults on a Saturday morning at Kumeu Arts Centre. We're now talking about extending this workshop into the city, with the possibility of running it on a regular basis in her Ponsonby studio.
Muriwai artist (and Creative Matters art tutor) Tanya Blong www.tanyablong.com/ has developed a workshop for adults, Portrait Revolution, that is far from your average portraiture workshop, exploring contemporary portraiture, allowing for experimentation with different materials, techniques and artistic styles. This course was very successfully run on a Thursday morning at Kumeu Arts Centre and now we're looking at extending the reach by providing the option for one off and consecutive workshops in the weekend.
Local ceramic artist Lily Weeds worked with us to develop her Handcrafted Ceramics workshop on Tuesday evenings, at Kumeu Arts Centre. This course is very popular and fills up every term and we have plans for Lily to also provide workshops of a similar nature to teens and to run some short courses in the weekend.
So bottom line is this!
Any artists out there who want to work with the community, who love the idea of working with children, teens or adults alongside their artistic practice and would like to work with Creative Matters, please get in touch and let's see if we can make it happen! And anone who would love to participate in a workshop with an artist, keep an eye on our website for updates www.creativematters.co.nz/
Mandy Jakich email@example.com
Well, we did it! Our mural is up in place at the Muriwai Skatepark and it looks superb! A lot of hard work and perseverance from our wonderful local teens: Isla, Ella, Jade, Renee, Ben, Indy, Izzy and Jaydah.
It's certainly been challenging, and the project took 2 terms instead of the predicted 1 term, and these guys all stayed both terms to see the project through. Talking to them about the process afterwards, they all agreed it was a worthwhile experience, they really enjoyed it, they felt stoked with the final result and felt proud of what they have achieved. Some admitted they were starting to 'get over it' (understandable!) and probably couldn't have continued any longer - yes, we were ready to finish. This was a great moment for me to add my pearls of wisdom :) We discussed that not everything we do is easy, sometimes you do tire of projects but the important thing is to hang in there and see the project through to the end without being negative (and then isn't that final feeling of satisfaction worth the effort!?), perseverance, loyalty and tenacity are important values which they all showed. Sermon over.
Personally, I always enjoy this workshop and I loved this project. I painted with the group and we had the best chats while we worked creatively together. I even copped a bit of flack sometimes, that's how comfortable we had become with each other (they named any little mistakes 'Mandys' which is sweet..I think?!). They even baked cookies and cupcakes to bring to class.
Again, this workshop is so great for encouraging this age group to talk and work together, to encourage each other, get creative, take risks, solve problems collaboratively, socialise in a non threatening, positive environment, and..oh yes...learn some art skills.
Thank you to everyone for all the positive feedback and for enjoying our mural so much, to George Jakich for helping us put the mural up and to DULUX for sponsoring us and providing the paint.
The teens and I are working towards creating a mural for the Skate park at Muriwai Beach, Auckland at our Collaborative, Project based art workshop for youth (12+). The creative process leading up to this final goal is more complex than I expected and to be honest, I've lost some sleep over this one!
We began the creative process by looking at the space and deciding on the best size and placement for the mural. We researched street art and murals, shared and discussed them, and collected the works we liked and thought would suit on individual Pinterest boards. So far so good. Then it came to actually designing this thing. Should we work together or individually on the design? One design over 3 boards or 3 designs? And what to design and HOW!!!???
After 3 challenging evenings of drawing up numerous plans, we have decided on a design that we think will suit the space and the users, will be attractive and fun, and will appeal to the community.
We made our 'ídeal colour palette' in pairs out of Dulux paint samples and will make the final selection from our donated paints from Dulux Trade Centre in Westgate. So hard to make the final choice!
And we've painted the plywood boards with primer, again kindly supplied by Dulux.
We discussed last night what a great learning experience this part of the process has been. Great creative and critical thinking, problem solving, modifying, making decisions, justifying, discussing..and some art and design skills and techniques thrown in! We've all felt unsure and a little lost with ideas at times but the group pushed through these feelings and kept persevering, and have now come through with a great outcome for our final design. The light at the end of the tunnel is slightly brighter!! And the home baking helped (thanks Jade and Ella!)
I remember the feeling of teaching an age group I hadn't had much experience with, 5 - 8 year olds, in the early days of working as an art educator at Auckland Art Gallery. I wasn't sure how to speak to them, how to be myself with them, how to structure the class to suit them best and what to expect from them. I had to find my junior children teaching voice.
This was the case in my art workshops for adults which I started this year. I had taught art to teachers in a professional development capacity but our BE CREATIVE workshops for adults were something new to me. Again, I initially wasn't sure how to speak to them, how much to be myself with them, how casual or formal I needed to be, how much instruction to give, how much encouragement and positive feedback I should give them (without seeming patronising), how to structure the class to suit them best and what to expect from them. I had to find my adult teaching voice.
And I think I have.
And this is what I've discovered.
Adult learners have similar needs to child learners. We appreciate being given a chance to explore, experiment and practise, we like being taught some actual skills and techniques, we like being given space to be creative and approach our art in our own way, we like options and an element of freedom, we love a bit of positive feedback and encouragement and also some extra help when necessary, and we feel proud of ourselves when we have achieved something.
And I loved that these adults I worked with took the techniques and ideas to their own place, creating works that meant something to them and that they felt comfortable attempting, with only a vague reference in the end to the original theme of pattern.
Some feedback from the participants: Unique ideas I hadn't tried before; Acceptance of whatever we do; Encouragement and affirmation of our creations; Relaxed evenings with great company and professional facilitation; Exposure to new techniques; Loved getting the creative juices flowing!; Really fun and a nice break from life; Convivial, supportive atmosphere - totally relaxed; Working with colour and materials that can be easily found so I can create these again; LOVED IT; Keep it up, this is a fabulous opportunity to be young again!
Can't wait for the next Be Creative course!
Linocut Print Making Tue, 1 Aug 2017 to Tue, 5 Sep 2017
Our very first art workshop for teens took place in term 1 and it was one of the most beneficial, worthwhile, important workshops I think I have ever been involved in. The teens were exposed to and developed an understanding of art elements, techniques and skills such as balance, scale, colour, shape and composition, 3D cardboard construction and design. But this was only the beginning of the learning that took place. Working in a group, making connections, building relationships, collaboratively establishing goals and timelines, researching artists and their work, sharing opinions and responses, problem solving, making decisions, thinking critically and creatively, helping and encouraging others - all this in a happy, calm, positive and supportive environment. What more could you ask for!! I loved it and the teens loved it. And I think the parents were pretty happy about the experience for their children too.
FEEDBACK FROM A PARENT: Just wanted to let you know that my daughter has gained so much from your art workshop for teenagers. Admittedly her first reaction of “I’m no good at art” was not encouraging but she quickly moved past this. There have been so many positive outcomes, from her positive interaction with a varied social group, a realisation of the creativity inside her and the growth in her confidence. I love the shared dinner, it is so great from a social perspective (especially as it’s one less meal to cook!) and we will be first in the queue if you run this great workshop again.
FEEDBACK FROM THE TEENS:
I look forward to this every week.
I liked that we had to problem solve to find out what we will make and that we asked questions with the group.
I liked having dinner and getting to know everyone in the group.
Being in this group made me more creative,
I liked this workshop because it makes you think and brings out your creativity. You discover problems and overcome them.
Final creations were shown at the Muriwai Arts show Off the Grid
I'm so thrilled to be able to do this all again this term, starting May 8th.
To find out more and book a place in our PROJECT PAINT workshop::
OK, I admit, this workshop was initially created as a way to hold on to the amazing children I have worked with in my primary school workshops who were heading off to high school. I didn't want to lose them out of my life!! Actually, I didn't want to halt the artistic momentum or the strong connections I had built with them and their families. So yes a little bit selfish...but I think they will gain even more than me from the project based teen workshops we have created. Next week our very first workshop for teens starts up on Monday evening at the Muriwai Surf Club.
The positive, collaborative nature of the projects encourage students to build relationships and make connections, cooperate with others and grow in self confidence, as well as learn visual arts skills and techniques. The participants will work closely with their peers; problem solving, sharing, reflecting, making decisions, cooperating, discussing and working towards a common goal.
Project Cardboard is this term's exciting challenge to collaboratively create an art installation or sculpture for the Muriwai Arts show in May, made predominantly out of recycled cardboard tubes. We will explore installations and sculptures around the world, artists who use recycled objects in their work, and the ways cardboard tubes have been recycled and used, then design, build and decorate our very own.
Monday evenings 6pm - 8pm; February 13th - April 10th; Ages 13-18; Muriwai Surf Club; $198 including all materials and dinner (pasta and salad).
Yep, it's taken 5 weeks, but hey it was all worth it! 8 - 16 year old children from The Homeschool Group have patiently cut egg cartons into flower shapes and painted them, in a huge variety of beautiful colours (all mixed by the children using only primary colours, black and white), then threaded and knotted them on to cotton to be hung on the mobile. This masterpiece now proudly hangs in the Massey leisure Centre, where our art classes take place on Fridays, and each child will take home one flower to remind them of the experience. The leisure centre manager has asked when we will make the next art installation!
I'm currently working with The Homeschool Group to create a beautiful art installation, using recycled egg cartons, to add to our work space at the Massey Leisure Centre. Working with the children on this project has really made me think about how we value the visual arts and the potential for incredible learning on so many levels.
This collaborative project not only gives children skills in colour mixing (creating tints, shades and hues with acrylic paint using only the primary colours, white and black) but also allows children to work together towards a common goal, helping, encouraging and guiding each other along the way. We have discussed the space and what sort of works would suit and the children have become aware of considerations that need to be made before choosing a suitable work for a particular space. We are contributing to the space we work in, to make it feel like we belong, to help us connect and to give back to the centre we work in every week. We are adding something special to the space, and we can enjoy and gain satisfaction from the work we have created together, as can other visitors to the centre, for months to come.
We have talked about other artists who use recycled materials for their work and the fact that their work is valued, no matter what materials are used, where they come from or what they look like. It is the thinking behind many of these works, the ways they interact with the environment, the aesthetic value and the audience appeal that adds to the value of the work.
Here are some images of other installations using hanging found materials.