Making Thinking – Crafting Education

Making Thinking – Crafting Education: how do we make thinking... A thinking that incorporates (even prioritises) ethical and environmental stewardship, and personal independence and resilience, but in tandem with a clear sense of social responsibility? Purposive engagement with materials through art, craft and making - as forms of concrete problem solving - are championed as learning 'platforms' that can engender these values. But what might a materially based education that promotes making thinking actually consist of? How do we foreground studio and workshops as learning environments and/or modes of learning that encourage independence, personal responsibility and agency? What innovative pedagogies might evolve to support these proposals?

Most will agree that a better future depends significantly on whether we can successfully educate younger generations to appreciate the importance of natural systems, the social structures dependent upon them, and how to live creatively, adapt and innovate, within a context of finite energy and material resources. And yet craft has already become an ‘Endangered Subject’ within the UK educational system, while it increasingly looks as if the arts and humanities more generally are set to become marginalised in favour of an instrumental vision of national independence that prioritises STEM subjects.

How might this dire situation be addressed? in fact the question reverberates through the whole continuum of education – from pre-school, through school and graduate education, to adult lifelong learning. Thus, although Making Futures is developed as a Higher Education research project, we are interested in the full spectrum of educational experience, from early years through to undergraduate and post-graduate levels, and on through continuing education. Indeed, this theme appears in the context of the establishment by Plymouth College of Arts of The School of Creative Arts, a 4-16 mainstream city centre school founded in one of the poorest wards in Plymouth based on a 'learning through making' creative arts curriculum which is already producing transformative results.