From education to employment

Students Make Art Not War In Response To Invitation From Artist Bob And Roberta Smith

14-18 NOW curriculum resources put creativity at the heart of learning.

Thousands of 16-18 year-old students across the UK have taken up an invitation from artist Bob and Roberta Smith OBE RA and 14-18 NOW to Make Art Not War.

They have responded with great creativity to the challenge “What does peace mean to you?

Launched in November 2018 as a legacy project in the 14-18 NOW arts programme for the First World War centenary, Make Art Not War is designed to develop essential creative skills fundamental to wider learning, matched to future social and economic demands.

Students have been invited to make creative work across any media and given brand new curriculum resources designed for inclusion in UAL Awarding Body Diplomas, A Levels and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), reaching over 45,000 students already. Teachers and students have embraced the project’s approach. In partnership with Creative & Cultural Skills over 1,200 students at FE colleges have benefited from a bespoke artist mentoring programme.

Devised with leading academic Professor Bill Lucas and former CEO of Creative & Cultural Skills Pauline Tambling CBE, Make Art Not War provides a new model for developing creative capabilities.

Following the success of this first roll out, Make Art Not War will again be included as curriculum exemplar material in the 2019-2020 academic year.  The resources offer open-ended activities and a live brief that prompts dialogue, experimentation and critical thinking.

Among the resources is a gallery of short films by artists from the 14-18 NOW programme including Jeremy Deller, Rachel Whiteread CBE and Yinka Shonibare CBE. These give insight into each artist’s commission for 14-18 NOW, their creative habits and their own reflection on the question ‘What does peace mean to you?’

The resources are underpinned by a learning focus on 5 Creative Habits: Imagination, Collaboration, Inquisitiveness, Discipline and Persistence, identified by Bill Lucas and colleagues in research undertaken at the University of Winchester’s Centre for Real World Learning. This five dimensional model for creativity has also been influential in the design of the OECD’s new 2021 PISA Test of Creative Thinking.

According to the World Economic Forum, by 2020 creativity will be in the top 3 most important skills people will need to be employable.

Creativity is now seen as a core literacy by the OECD, equipping students with transferable skills vital to their future. From employers and educators worldwide there is growing interest in the kinds of high-level problem-solving skills which students develop when they work on rigorous, extended enquiries of the kind 14-18 NOW has been promoting.

Education systems in many countries now specify creativity as a required element of their national curriculum, including Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Scotland and Singapore.

Bill Lucas commented:

Future shifts in global assessment, such as the creative thinking tests being developed by PISA for use in 2021 and employer demand for creative skills suggest that education policy in England is increasingly out of step with international shifts in workforce and education reform. Make Art Not War has modelled one way that they could be brought into alignment. Teachers and students have told us how much they have valued the benefits of the real-world learning Make Art Not War has offered. In a crowded school and college curriculum great teachers have nevertheless provided opportunities for young people to develop the kinds of skills that will be essential to young people’s future working lives.”

In February 14-18 NOW hosted a Make Art Not War EPQ conference day, where there was a consensus among teachers that the EPQ stimulus developed through Make Art Not War offers a valuable counterpoint to curriculum requirements. Many courses currently favour knowledge transmission and exam success over skills development.

Andria Zafirakou MBE, the 2018 Global Teacher of the Year Prize winner, is an Arts and Textiles teacher at Alperton Community School in northwest London whose own work with students is evidence of the transformational power of creative learning. She took part in the conference and commented:

“Enabling young people to undertake their journeys through the language of creativity is life transforming. I believe that the Make Art Not War EPQ programme will fill a huge gap needed in our schools and educational institutions. If we want to support our students to become independent, confident, good communicators, resilient, successful and potential global changemakers, embedding the programme into our schools will help them gain the skills to get there in a unique way.”

Creative learning in the UK charts its beginnings back to 1918 and the shifts that occurred in education in response to the inhumanity of the First World War. The end of the war marked the start of the Child Art Movement, a holistic and arts-rich approach to learning championed by Frank Cisek and educationalists of the time.

Jenny Waldman, Director of 14-18 NOW, said:

“14-18 NOW has spent the past five years inviting and inspiring reflection on the impact and legacy of the First World War and this final project looks to the future. The arts are a powerful catalyst for young people’s engagement with the world and millions of young people have seen or participated in the commissions that have marked the First World War Centenary. It is a fitting legacy for 14-18 NOW that the Make Art Not War resources will give young people the chance to develop their own creative skills and reflect on the possibility of Peace.”

Lead artist Bob and Roberta Smith commented:

“I’m interested in how art can be a force for change and how creativity is fundamental for all our lives. Make Art Not War took inspiration from Franz Cisek and his understanding of the difference between creating and knowing and how each stimulates a different form of learning. The schools and colleges who have taken part in Make Art Not War have connected with the principles and philosophy of Cisek. They too have made learning inventive, playful, open-ended, challenging and fuelled young people to find confidence in their voice, to be bold, to be original and to express their ideas and opinions.”

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