Education studies and teaching news at Brighton

students modelling clay wearing blindfolds

Art workshop encourages new ways of looking, making and thinking

We were delighted to welcome Bill Leslie, from Leap Then Look, to the university to deliver student workshops.

The workshops were attended by student teachers on our Art and Design PGCE and undergraduate primary teaching courses and funded by Belong at Brighton.

The workshops provided the student teachers with a unique and innovative experience of art pedagogy. Leap Then Look create art works and experiences that focus on working together, inspiring playfulness, inquisitiveness and experimentation. They use exciting and unconventional approaches, including object making, performance, installation, film and photography.

Leap Then Look believe that contemporary art practice should and can be made available and accessible to everyone and that we can all benefit from engaging with new ways of looking, making and thinking.

Bill ran three different workshops on a rotation:

  • students creating artowrk with sticksassembling sticks together to create a collaborative sculpture with as much height as possible
  • a room full of unconventional objects which needed to be selected and then joined together, inspired by personal responses to prompt cards
  • a clay workshop, where the student teachers were blindfolded and had to respond to words with the clay, whilst at the same time working with a partner.

The engagement from all the students was fabulous to observe, some entered with caution and a few nerves, some embraced a newly found freedom and commented on the lack of pressure when the outcome isn’t already decided and you are able to focus more on the process and joy of simply creating.

Introducing the student teachers to these different perspectives on art education, helped to develop their critical thinking around the art curriculum, which they may have been teaching whilst on their school placements, and informing their own values in art education. The discussion the students had after the workshops reflected on their experiential learning and how it might inform or change their teaching practice in the future.

Feedback included:

” In our school, time is so precious to the teachers and pupils, that the focus is on the outcome and the pupils will often be given the same outcome to work towards. Today, has emphasised the importance of valuing the process of creation over the end product.”

“Introducing more processed driven projects in key stage 3 would enable that creativity to flourish, strengthen and balance against the often overriding drive and desire for skill development, particularly seen in secondary.”

“I want to encourage my pupils to take more risks, and be less concerned about what a piece of art looks like and simply enjoy the activities so they become more trusting in their own experiences and build confidence.”

“I want to bring more of the freedom and play aspects to creating art, back into my lessons now!”

The opportunity also allowed the student teachers to work across phases and discuss what art education looks like in these different educational settings.

It was a hugely rewarding experience for everyone concerned and one we hope to do again in the future.

Find out how you can become a teacher with the University of Brighton. 

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Kerry Burnett • April 29, 2024

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