Scottish Learning Festival - Portal launches new age of creativity

17th September 2010 at 01:00
Platform to explore artistic exchange between education and culture prepares to go live

In the mid-1990s, Scottish artist Christine Borland was fascinated to find you could buy human skeletons by mail order. She reconstructed in bronze the heads of the last two skulls she was sent, mimicking the process used by police to find the identity of long-dead bodies.

Ms Borland was one of five science-inspired artists commissioned by Edinburgh University's Talbot Rice Gallery to take part in an innovative science-art project on Darwin. In one public exhibition, biology and art pupils studied Darwin's Edinburgh, his family, his influences and his theory of evolution; in another, they explored how artists like Ms Borland interpret science. Then, in a practical session, they created new species using art materials, and explored where creativity, evolution and design collide.

A creative way to teach biology and art? No doubt, but which arts bodies working with schools could deliver it? And what do they offer?

Next week, a Creativity Portal will be launched at the Scottish Learning Festival to answer these questions for teachers.

Culture Minister Fiona Hyslop says it will be the first tangible resource from a new action plan, designed to set out how creativity can be placed at the heart of education through collaboration between the education and culture sectors.

"If we are to equip our children with the skills they need to succeed in the new global economy, we must teach them to be resourceful, flexible, confident, responsible and, perhaps most of all, creative," she says.

The portal is designed to help the rollout of Curriculum for Excellence. "It will be the place all teachers go to find out about creativity and creative learning," says Julia Fenby, Glow development officer for the arts at Learning and Teaching Scotland.

The resource will be available through Glow, the schools intranet, and some of it via the internet.

Initially, all government-funded and supported national bodies will take part. It will also be open to Creative Scotland-funded organisations.

Some 30 organisations will launch when the portal goes live on Wednesday. Others will follow soon.

Phase two will see non-funded arts, culture and heritage organisations represented, but these will be vetted first to ensure a good track record of working creatively with schools.

Ten Co-Create projects with schools, funded by the Scottish Arts Council, will also be there (see opposite).

Teachers will be able to search the portal under terms such as "interdisciplinary learning"; look for a specific arts organisation; or search under a particular curricular area to discover how creativity might be injected into their subject.

Arts organisations will each have their own space on the portal, where they will be able to upload information about themselves, key contacts and the curriculum themes and areas they cover through their work. They will also be able to upload workshop programmes and resources.

Blogs, meanwhile, will be used to keep teachers up to speed with their latest news and developments, with edited highlights appearing on the Creativity Portal home page, so teachers can see what's new at a glance.

Schools will also contribute to the portal's content. There will be discussion forums where teachers can interact with artists and Glow groups, and numerous case studies featuring collaborations between arts organisations and education. The Talbot Rice Gallery's work with the Edinburgh secondaries around evolution and Darwin will feature.

"When people land on the home page, we want them to feel inspired straight away, so there are going to be a series of talking heads, speaking about creativity and creative learning," says Ms Fenby.

The heads will include Stuart MacDonald, emeritus professor at Gray's School of Art, Robert Gordon University; graphic designer Janice Kirkpatrick; and Andrew Dixon, chief executive of Scotland's national arts and culture body, Creative Scotland.

Inspiring images, sometimes Scottish pupils' creations, will also pop up on the home page and a different quote on creativity will appear each time a teacher logs on (see above).

"This is just the beginning," says Ms Fenby. "Through working with arts organisations and schools, finding out about their experiences of the portal's functionality and content, the portal will keep growing and growing."

The Creativity Portal - Creative Learning and Teaching Opportunities Accessed through Glow at the Scottish Learning Festival, September 23, 10.30am.

`Imagination enhances creativity and is at the heart of innovation, invention, problem solving, science and the arts and of all the performing arts, a visit to the theatre, particularly theatre for young audiences, should be an act of pure imagination'

Iain Johnstone, creative director, Wee Stories

`Learning is at the heart of everything we do. We believe that you can't be creative without learning and that you can't learn without being creative'

Vicky Featherstone, artistic director and chief executive, National Theatre of Scotland

`Creativity is the freedom to explore, rejuvenate and affirm. It is within us all to inspire others through teaching creatively, tapping into individuals' learning styles'

Hayley Durward, Citymoves Dance Agency

`For me, being creative started with . the dressing-up box . or was it with my plastic lion? Too hard to say. What I do recall is having time and an imagination-load of possibilities'

Morven Gregor, artistic director, Birds of Paradise Theatre Company

`Absolutely everyone has a creative side. Giving people the chance to explore this helps grow confidence, offers the chance to learn new things about themselves and others . as well as having an immense amount of fun whilst doing so'

Mary McCluskey, artistic director Scottish Youth Theatre.

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