It is with great pleasure that I am able to bring you the third issue of JUICE, the Journal of Useful Investigations in Creative Education.
As I am writing this editorial, the Coronavirus pandemic is forcing people across the world to think and work more creatively. Workers in a great many sectors are having to adapt to new constraints, and this is especially the case for those working in education.
There has never been a greater need for people to try new approaches to teaching and supporting learning. The classroom, whether real or virtual, continues to provide incredible opportunities for creativity. I am consistently amazed by the creative potential that exists in every teaching and learning situation, should we choose to embrace it.
JUICE aims to apprehend and showcase some of these precious moments, where educators realise their power to transform the lives of others. To capture these examples, our third issue introduces a new category called ‘reflections’ in which the authors critically reflect on an aspect of their educational work.
So without further delay, let’s take a look at Issue 3.
The first of our four articles examines the concept of democratic assessment. In this piece of action research, Author Alexander Aidan applies the idea of ‘students as partners’ to assessment design, and investigates the impact of inviting his students to co-design the assessment criteria that will be used to assess their learning.
Our second article considers a problem that many students in higher education face, which is how to read proactively. Author Ben Smart uses an autoethnographic approach to reflect on his own experiences of learning how to read effectively to support his studies. Ben outlines a strategy that can be easily used and adapted to help students engage with reading material more effectively.
We then have the opportunity to learn about an approach to teaching multidisciplinarity that could benefit curriculum design in creative contexts. In this article, Richard Nash challenges us to move beyond the current paradigm of disciplinary silos and towards the idea of ‘alterplinarity’, in which design practice shifts towards a more issue or project-based approach.
In our fourth article, we have a privileged insight into how the work of a creative outreach team can have a positive impact on teenagers’ expectations of creative arts education. Authors Daniel Goodwin, Emma Bunyard, Holly Rogers and Marie Connolly evaluate the impact of a series of creative outreach activities to reveal the potential of creative arts to expand opportunities for young adults from underrepresented groups.
With one exception, all the reflections in this issue all provided by current and former participants in UCA’s PGCert in Creative Education. The exception is that of Ray Martin, who launches our reflections section with a piece entitled Through a Glass Darkly: Learning to Reflect. Ray’s article provides some welcome clarification on the process of reflection itself along with practical suggestions on how to do it.
We kick off with a piece by Fran Norton, whose reflection on gendered assessment in creative education opens up a potential Pandora’s Box of issues. In problematising current approaches to assessment, the author argues that accepted writing styles in academic contexts may privilege a more masculine voice. This reveals a potentially structural issue in higher education assessment practices which risks disadvantaging students whose style of writing may not naturally align with this approach.
Our second reflection comes from a team of PGCert graduates, who use Bayse’s concept of the ‘campfire’ to help us see how a typical teaching space can be repurposed to support more creative activities. This is followed by a piece by Emily Medcalf, who also explores the concept of learning spaces in Textiles education with the aim of highlighting common challenges to inclusivity that teaching spaces often present.
Camelia Burn then offers an insight into how well-known theories of learning can be interpreted and applied in the context of Illustration education. The author’s reflection is particularly useful as it turn what can often be perceived as ‘dry and boring’ learning theories into practical strategies for making teaching more creative. Continuing on the theme of learning theories, Becka Fairley explains how reflecting using the Alexander Framework enabled her to connect with and apply key learning theories. As with the previous reflection, Becka succeeds in showing how meaningful reflection on learning theory can lead to practical improvements in curriculum design and delivery in creative contexts.
We then have the opportunity to consider the practical application of learning theories from the perspective of digital technologies. Jeremiah Ambrose invites us to examine how learning theories can inform the use of digital technologies in the classroom, and proposes that while a more goal-oriented approach to technology can enhance learner experience, this is dependent upon tutors being willing to expand their pedagogical mindset. Developing this idea, Nicola Muirhead examines the use of technology in the classroom from the theoretical perspective of critical digital pedagogy. Nicola’s reflection poses a series of questions that can help us think more critically about the benefits and challenges to using technology with our students.
We round off this issue with a review of Kate Hatton’s book Towards an Inclusive Arts Education, kindly provided by Ray Martin. Ray’s insightful summary highlights that a key theme of Hatton’s book is that of race, and her observation that race continues to be a significant barrier to full inclusion. Just as importantly, Kerry Freedman’s chapter provides a welcome foregrounding of the issue of class, and highlights how interviewers would benefit from a greater understanding of more popular art such as graffiti and manga, if they are to tackle potential unconscious bias in applicant interviews.
The last word
As with the previous issues of JUICE, I would like to finish by warmly thanking all authors and peer reviews for their contributions to Issue 3. JUICE is nothing more than a product of a great deal of dedication, both by those submitting articles and by those reviewing them.
I am very grateful to you all for your enthusiasm and your desire to share your experiences of creative education with the wider world. It gives me great pleasure that JUICE is able to provide a platform for your research.
Enjoy the JUICE.