Cos we are living in a cereal world, and I am just a cereal girl.

I was recently asked to facilitate a session for artists after a networking breakfast to set the tone of the day and begin artists thinking about their offers for children/young people and schools in general.

Taking on the idea of reflection and breakfast, my session asked the delegates to begin to consider their offer to schools by starting with the humble cereal box.20130127-103911.jpg

The idea came while being in the cereal aisle of my local supermarket for an inordinate amount of time waiting for my husband to choose his breakfast for the week. There are lots of cereals in supermarkets, a whole aisle is packed with many varieties all doing in effect the same job with different flavours and benefits to your morning meal. It struck me as a great metaphor for artists wanting to work in schools. I also liked that artists and other Creative Professionals don’t usually fit too neatly into boxes, and often revolt against being forced into one. Not to forget the old chestnut ‘thinking outside the box’ which Creatives are renowned for. Starting with something so commercial in a room full of people who would and do carry out their work with little or no financial reward, I thought might offer some lively debate!

By using something so familiar as a stimulus it allows people to garner deeper information, make more connection with the learning, and also keep it for longer. My most memorable lesson from school was being set homework in A-level Economics to write all the pros and cons for roundabouts with traffic lights and without. In our next lesson, we used those lists to explore the pros and cons of a free market economy. To this day I can hold a very good conversation on this subject, not by having to remember the facts, but simply by thinking about roundabouts.

Many artists realised their offer was more of a variety pack, but the need for clarity about each ‘box’ was key. I hope that the delegates, as well as having thought about what’s in and on their ‘box’ for schools, also now have a useful prompt for reflection while doing their weekly shop.

Nicola
nicola@changingcultures.org

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