Artist-teacher partnerships


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Presentation given at Cambridge University Faculty of Education, January 2008, exploring the dynamics and difficulties of teacher-artist partnerships

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Artist-teacher partnerships

  1. 1. border crossings, territorial skirmishes and uneasy truces in the terrain of teacher-artist partnerships Graham Jeffery [email_address]
  2. 2. Partnerships: <ul><li>Organisational perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Networked, informational society (Manuel Castells, Andy Hargreaves) </li></ul><ul><li>Technological change enables networking - for some - across boundaries/hierarchies </li></ul><ul><li>Dissolution of institutions: instability </li></ul><ul><li>‘ partnerships’ part of neoliberal rhetoric of governance/public sector management? </li></ul><ul><li>Individual perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Skills in negotiating across boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge to orthodoxies? </li></ul><ul><li>‘ creative destruction’ and permanent revolution.. (Sennett) </li></ul>Increasingly networked and collaborative institutional landscape…for education, society, business….slippery concepts…partnership as a euphemism/invocation?
  3. 3. Artist-educator pedagogies <ul><li>art and design (and some traditions of performing arts) education has championed the ‘artist-teacher’, in which the skill and craft of the arts practitioner is blended with pedagogical knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>a rich vein of research from Dewey to Stenhouse to Schon has championed the idea of teaching as a type of artistry, which involves making rich, complex judgements about teaching - a form of empowered, active professionalism </li></ul><ul><li>Now - Creative Partnerships TM and a host of other policy invocations based on ‘partnership’ have brought these debates to the surface </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>Is it a programme which is seeking to develop creativity primarily through arts and cultural activities or is it an agency working across the whole agenda of creativity? What is the relationship of CP to historic debates in arts education? To what extent does it represent a new agenda? How does it relate to other initiatives? Is ‘it’ even one programme or a complex set of somewhat fragmented interventions? </li></ul><ul><li>It is about creative education, by which I mean helping teachers teach more creatively, using creative journeys as educational drivers and developing creative skills in young people. Creative education will for me achieve a range of benefits like linguistic development, more confident students, more motivated students who are more committed to education,more emotionally literate students, more curious students, imaginative kids with lots of ideas, students with an improved capacity to take intelligent risks etc”. </li></ul><ul><li>(Paul Collard, National Director, Creative Partnerships, interviewed in January 2006) </li></ul>
  5. 5. The context for this research <ul><li>Two extended, year long, cross-phase, interdisciplinary professional development programmes for artists and teachers: Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAPP) ( ) </li></ul><ul><li>and Eastfeast </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  6. 6. The public face of partnership….
  7. 7. … and the private life of partnership <ul><li>Issues of power, status. motivation and territory </li></ul><ul><li>Shared values? Shared objectives? </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue and/or confrontation? </li></ul><ul><li>Psychosocial perspectives on interaction - convergent or divergent discourses? </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>What are the ‘generative metaphors’ and occupational mythologies in play in this fictional representation of an artist/teacher interaction? </li></ul>
  9. 9. ‘ Teachers’ and ‘artists’ <ul><li>Embodied roles - performing identities </li></ul><ul><li>Interpersonal - psychosocial AND occupying ‘positional role’ within institutions </li></ul><ul><li>Pervasive mythologies - using highly loaded terms in everyday language </li></ul><ul><li>Reference orientations/generative metaphors/controlling discourses/organisation-al narratives </li></ul>
  10. 10. Perspectives on professional identity <ul><li>Teacher-Artist </li></ul><ul><li>How ideas about pedagogical roles, policy discourses and practice ‘construct subjectivities’ </li></ul><ul><li>Tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Duality rather than a dualism? </li></ul><ul><li>Both/and acknowledges a continuum of activity although choices still have to be made </li></ul><ul><li>Professional narratives and personal biographies </li></ul><ul><li>Crossing/interrogating pervasive symbolic boundaries? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Professional learning as conversation <ul><li>Learning as socially mediated conversation </li></ul><ul><li>The social construction of professional subjectivities </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic interactionism </li></ul><ul><li>Mediation/negotiation across cultural/organisational boundaries </li></ul>
  12. 12. Perspectives on pedagogy
  13. 14. Perspectives on conversations <ul><li>Reference group theory </li></ul><ul><li>Language as the discursive formation of knowledge/power </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic interactionism - the specificites of conversation - treatment of others as ‘symbolic objects’ - revealing verbal ‘slips’ </li></ul><ul><li>Communities of practice - ‘socially mediated systems’ view of social interaction structured by organisational affiliations and reference groups? </li></ul><ul><li>We tended to focus on the metalinguistic rather than more narrow linguistics… </li></ul>
  14. 16. Four short stories from the research… <ul><li>Making art as representing symbolic boundaries…a tool for representing self and identity work? Collaborative work as a form of cultural (re)production? </li></ul><ul><li>The pedagogic purpose of artist-teacher partnerships…developing a typology? </li></ul><ul><li>Grounded in a wide range of arts-educational traditions and practices </li></ul>
  15. 17. Four short stories (1) <ul><li>Kerry and her frozen head </li></ul>
  16. 18. Four short stories (2) <ul><li>the artist as agent provocateur? </li></ul><ul><li>Mythologies about the inherent ‘creativity’ of artists…and the regulated professionalism of teachers? </li></ul>
  17. 19. Four short stories (3) <ul><li>Siobhan and Cath: dialogic skills exchange? Interdisciplinary enquiry? Expanding the frame of the art and design classroom? </li></ul>
  18. 20. Four short stories (4) <ul><li>The lion in residence? </li></ul><ul><li>The artist’s role in secondary schools: celebrity chef, circus performer, chat show guest: where do I fit in and could somebody else do it better? </li></ul><ul><li>critiquing the discourse of ‘shared practice’ </li></ul>
  19. 21. “ Difficulties in the theory: is it just me? - the constant call for collaboration in an area which is often about a fairly solitary, highly personal exploration - the emphasis on verbal communication in a subject which is often about an individual language that has nothing to do with words - the focus on Artists as some sort of uniquely, innately skilled creative problem solvers who will be able to redress an inherent lack in the system - The desire to promote equal partnerships in a system where artists and teachers can never be equal - a blurring of expectation between the definitions; ‘artist’ and ‘art educator’ - an over-simplification of what an artist is, packaging them to fulfil a ‘required’ service. - Time , as a contributing factor to all the above is not valued enough and only recently being analysed. (extract from written assignment by Thurle Wright, artist)
  20. 22. Conversations about arts education are caught up in these tensions… <ul><li>Arts education as a repository/refuge for creative practices within schools and colleges? </li></ul><ul><li>Expressive aims alongside ‘subject knowledge’ is a potent mix but open to misinterpretation </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Role ambiguity’ in partnership-based pedagogies… </li></ul><ul><li>Some types of curriculum and assessment are more tolerant of these than others… </li></ul><ul><li>Hybrid and unsettled forms of identity and professional practice? </li></ul>
  21. 23. Generative metaphors: mythologies and misunderstandings <ul><ul><ul><li> salaried educators and freelance artists face totally different economic realities and everyday priorities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> artists and cultural organisations embody cultural authenticity while the culture of schools is contrived, controlling and mechanistic </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> the creative freedom of the individual artist is in tension with the ethical commitment of the teacher to the wellbeing of children; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> ‘ risk’ is to be avoided in schools and embraced in the arts; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> the systematic and regulated nature of daily timetabled life in the school is a world away from the ‘creative laboratory’ of the artist’s studio; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>the outcome-driven assessment systems of the school may appear to ignore questions of quality and value, central to the arts, that are not easily reduced to pen and paper tests. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What forms of professional development are needed to critically interrogate and respond to these tensions? Aren’t these some of the central tensions of arts education? They have a long and complex intellectual and practical history…raising questions of reflective practice and critical pedagogy…and need for greater critical orientation in the professional development of arts educators? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  22. 25. Complex relationships between arts sector and education… <ul><li>Many artists have supported/supplemented their practice by working in education (particularly FE and HE?) </li></ul><ul><li>Many teachers of the arts have professional histories in the arts </li></ul>But…many other teachers are uneasy and uncomfortable with the principles and practice of arts education and prefer more fixed/easily defined approaches…
  23. 26. Partnerships are interesting…. <ul><li>They bring to the surface pedagogical assumptions that may remain tacit and unacknowledged </li></ul><ul><li>Students benefit from working with ‘professional artists’ - ‘authenticity’? </li></ul><ul><li>Models of ‘stealth mentoring’ and informal apprenticeship - perhaps a characteristic of British cultural education? </li></ul><ul><li>But powerfully ‘directive’ and in danger of normalising assumptions… </li></ul>
  24. 27. mediation and negotiation is part of the condition of being in a pluralistic education system… <ul><li>Use of time, space, and resources provides the ‘legislative’ framework/ social architecture within which schools operate - but how flexible and open is it? </li></ul><ul><li>To what extent are the conditions for collaboration present? </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships between formal and informal learning… </li></ul>
  25. 28. ‘ Creative partnership’ might mean… <ul><li>Yet another a directive and normative narrative - functionalism revisited? </li></ul><ul><li>OR </li></ul><ul><li>Critical interrogation of pedagogic assumptions through complex interaction between professionals, across domains of experience </li></ul>
  26. 29. <ul><li>“ Mediated conversations at a cultural trading post: a study a study of the TAPP and Eastfeast PPD Programmes in support of teachers and artists ” - co-authored with Prof. David Jenkins - forthcoming from TAPP </li></ul><ul><li>( </li></ul><ul><li>The Creative College: building a successful learning culture in the arts (Trentham Books, 2005) </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>