“CCE believes in a specific approach to working with young people.”
This focuses on ensuring that the creative and cultural activities in which the children and young people are engaged to develop their competence (so that they feel effective), their autonomy (so that they understand themselves to be the source of their own behaviour) and their relatedness (through which they feel connected to other individuals and their community).
Commonly, cultural education is modelled on the dominant form of teaching and learning found in mainstream education. This approach is largely transmissive, in the sense that it is mainly concerned with the transmission of knowledge and technical skills from adults, who possess them, to children and young people, who don’t. It isn’t that there is no place for transmission, but that it had been encouraged to dominate educational practice through frequent testing. It is a deficit model of education, in which the pupil’s lack of knowledge and skills is constantly reinforced, which steadily erodes confidence and self-belief. It also undermines a pupil’s sense of autonomy because they do not experience their behaviour as being self determined. Rather, they come to experience their behaviour as being externally directed and not driven by personal interest, curiosity or enjoyment. As a consequence, curiosity, interest and enjoyment are consistently suppressed, until they become absent from the learning experience and indeed from the young person’s behaviours. By the time they leave education, they have not developed the self regulation, intrinsic motivation, independence and confidence to succeed or become fulfilled.
A creative education reduces the dominance of transmission in education so that, while still achieving good academic results, it results in resilient, disciplined, self-starting young people. It understands that how knowledge and skills are acquired affects a pupil’s long term development. If they are persistently the result of teacher direction, the pupil is rendered dependent. If they are developed naturally through the task or activity, pupils come to see themselves as having agency – in other words having the power to make a difference to their own lives. This approach requires their teachers to be facilitative, rather than directive, to become partners in young people’s creative journeys, to be co-creators of their learning. It also requires those working with young people to be inclusive in their approach, recognising all young people are creative, and to allow young people to make meaningful choices in determining the nature and shape of the projects they pursue. It also recognises that success for young people will come from the boldness of the activities they undertake, combined with high expectation of the young people. To experience the quality of success that builds their confidence and sense of agency, they have to be supported to achieve remarkable results.
Finally, this approach to the development of young people recognises that artists and creative practitioners have a unique role to play. They model in their behaviours a way of working which achieves an appropriate balance between the need to build capacity and ambition with the need to stimulate curiosity, interest and autonomy.