A transcript of my presentation is below.
I wear many hats; I am an arts tutor and an artist; a public artist. I could even be called a ‘social activist’; - speak to title (subtitle points to convergence of my work re. showing children they can follow their dreams and passions, and showing them what happens when you think big, work as a team, follow process and give it all you have) – (I use everything I’ve got, the total of my human capital, to get my the work done) I research my subject and use marketing, psychology and sales, and social media to communicate my work and to achieve the desired end.
I have Fine Art degree from Middlesex University, North London, and a Commerce degree from Canterbury University in Christchurch, where I majored in Strategic Human Resource Development, and did well enough to be offered a place in their Executive MBA programme - I’ve studied both sides of the same coin. Each course of study exercising and enabling a particular side of my brain. brains.
I’ve also undertaken professional development; studying oil painting at postgraduate level at Auckland University of Technology.
In 2011 I started ‘QT Creative kids’ , out of which ‘QT Creative’ has evolved, they have different focuses.. I also regularly teach for REAP and run other creative workshops across the region.
The public art work I do as ‘QT Creative’ works with children, youth, and across the broader community to produce public art in New Zealand. Children work on real-world art projects that benefit the communities that produce them - their community.
Whilst extending a child’s practical art education and experiences this assumption-shattering(transformational/emacipatory) work ultimately helps to shape what children believe can be accomplished, by themselves and when part of a team. Additionally, the works show children and youth the results of taking a risk, being creative, collaboration and knowledge sharing, and then giving it everything you’ve got – developing self-efficacy and perseverance.
The projects engender pride in a community and add to the cultural and social fabric of where they are placed – but getting them there can be a hard slog!
It makes economical and financial sense to support the production of public art in NZ and around the world. What makes for a great public space? What do planners seemingly only consider land usage in terms of meters squared; how many offices or shops they can fit into a space and therefore how much rent can be generated?
What about the People? What about the people and communities that have to use those spaces?
Places and spaces need a soul, they need love, and they need people to love them. Great public spaces can make people feel better about themselves and about where they come from or live - they are the ‘sets’ to the “play’ of life; colouring, enriching and adding a depth of field to those special moments we remember so fondly. Just by knowing that they exist, by knowing that a group of people is working to create and to maintain such spaces, people have more pride and optimism for where they live.
So how did I get started?
My children were telling me about how their primary school teacher was attempting to teach them ‘art’ and what her expectation was. What I heard was alarming and what I discovered was the tip of an huge iceberg.
Alarming because, the teacher was attempting to teach them all the wrong ideas and techniques and was doing so in a very prescribed manner. Why perpetuate these misconceptions into the future.
things must have an outline
that red, blue and yellow are the primary colours
and that a good picture/piece of art must look like a Turner painting
Taken together and delivered in a very prescribed manner these ideas and methods kill the very thing that she was attempting to teach in the first place – creativity. All teaching should elicit a creative dynamism from the teacher, but teaching art I believe is the among the most challenging of situations – as a teacher [of creativity] you have to be able to handle a huge amount of ambiguity; you never know how the works of 15 students will turn out because you have not focused on the outcome, you have to focus on process and to create the right conditions for learning – the student will take care of the rest – the learning.
I believe ‘there is no such thing as a mistake’ and in my classes a child’s creativity is encouraged and fostered in a safe and free environment
by a ‘free environment’ I don’t mean unstructured chaos. If the learning context is such that an aire of psychological safety is created and fostered and maintained, then a child will feel safe to explore, without fear of making a mistake.
‘Psychological Safety’ - an atmosphere of reduced learning anxiety i.e. children (and adults) feel comfortable to try out new ideas and techniques without fear of being punished or receiving/generating some kind of negative consequence or reaction - when this anxiety is reduced/removed a deeper learning can take place.
Appreciative Inquiry - adopting a focus on ‘what is good’ and exciting, focusing on the strengths and abilities a child is showing. This concept also encourages an acceptance of failure and promotes experimentation. The underlying assertion is that we move in the direction of things about which we ask – if we focus on the problem, then the problem seemingly becomes larger, and any potential solutions are much harder to come by as they are overshadowed by the problem. However, if we focus on the positives/strengths of a students and learning situation – the students will move in the direction of praise, and will have not become hung-up on any perceived problems.
This positivity, encouragement, recognition, and safety builds risk-taking capabilities and increases self-efficacy.
QT Creative Kids' art classes focus on self-expression and the development of creativity. Children learn the skills they need to produce their own art - their representations of the world - how they see it.
Students receive practical art tuition and an exposure to visual arts. Ages 5 and up work through an art programme, which blends practical art experience with exposure to the world of visual and fine arts. Sketching, drawing, pastels, acrylic painting, and colour-mixing are all taught through many artistic styles.
The problems with [art] education today,
Problems faced when trying to produce murals.
So what is the problem with art education today?
The wrong ideas and miss-information are being taught by people and teachers, who are well intentioned but who are arguably blind to their own shortcomings in this area.
To their credit some teachers will attempt to introduce art to their students but for the most part this just propagates further the misconceptions and untruths about referential art(i.e. art that looks like something to the viewer). I’ve also seen ‘Art’ taught/delivered in an extremely prescribed fashion - removing the students’ discretion is to remove their creativity and to squash any inspiration before it is even born. This approach breeds anxiety and fear of making mistakes by not doing what the teacher has asked. It reinforces the bell-curve of conformity and restrains those students that show an affinity for or are gifted in the arts
Creating a positive climate in which to learn is comprised of three elements; behavioral engineering (HR book), Appreciative inquiry, and a new conception of education and human intelligence.
Behavioral Engineering (separating ignorance from incentive issues):
Environment factors: information; resources; incentives
Person factors: skills & knowledge; capacity; motivation
At its core is the idea that we create the world the way we describe it – it’s the old adage of whether your glass is half empty or not
Discovery: appreciate the ‘best of what is’
Dream: imagine ‘what could be’
Determine: ‘What should be’
Destiny: Create ‘what will be’.
A New Conception of Human Intelligence:
In 2010 we had the GFC – the people who should have known better, didn’t do better – their moral and ethical compasses were off. They made poor financial decisions and squandered millions of $ of innocent people’s money. So why do we continue to teach, and to perpetuate into the next century, the same old [financial] models that keep failing us; creating insatiable material greed, and feeding corruption and nepotism at the highest levels.
Research shows us how dynamic intelligence is. To find solutions to the problems of today and of tomorrow - our children are going to need to be creative; they are going to need to be able to come up with original ideas; to innovate and to synthesize disparate concepts and frames of reference in order to come up with the much needed solutions their world will critically need and demand of them.
Business graduates (I’ll pick on them) need an artistic and creative exploit the same way that art students need a business degree - or aspects of one.
Without learning multiple ways of seeing of seeing the world through matrices of mental models, one can be stuck perpetuating the old models and ways of thinking - continuously re-inventing a square wheel.
Creativity requires two fundamental abilities/characteristics:
an ability to take risks
and a higher than normal tolerance for being able to handle ambiguity
A person needs to think to themselves “I wonder what will happen if….”, then they need to be able to play with that idea, almost for play-sake, until they discover the best solution. A greater tolerance for the resulting ambiguity minimises the risk of satisficing, of settling for the less than ideal solution.
If a person can ask themselves ‘I wonder what will happen if….?’ then they have already achieved an open mind, and have implicitly accepted that there might be ‘more than one way to skin [that troublesome] cat’.