CCE has been providing support to the Agastya International Foundation and as part of this, Paul Collard spent 3 weeks in January 2019 studying the work being carried out on their campus outside Bangalore, providing workshops and training sessions. Following on from this in February 2019, CCE brokered an arrangement for two members of the Creative Learning team from the Arts Council of Wales to visit Agastya International Foundation’s rural campus located in the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Sian James, Programme Manager for Lead Creative Schools, takes up the story.
The Creative Learning team had recognised similarities between their Lead Creative Schools Scheme which aims to develop the ‘creativity of learners so that they can achieve their potential’ and Agastya International Foundation’s mission to ‘spark curiosity, nurture creativity and instil confidence in economically disadvantaged young people’. It was the mutual recognition given to the importance of nurturing creativity in young people that brought the two organisations together.
The initial aim of the visit was for both organisations to gain a better understanding of each other’s respective programmes with a view to growing their shared knowledge and understanding of how to develop creativity in young people and support those that teach them. During the first week of the visit, we were able to familiarise ourselves with the various facilities located on Agastya’s rural campus which includes among others, a Bio Discovery Centre, Sensorium, Art Lab, Media Centre and Planetarium.
“By using space creatively, combined with hands-on interactive models, Agastya create truly unique learning environments that are able to spark curiosity and bring science, art and media to life” Daniel Trivedy, Arts Council of Wales
During the second week of our visit, we had the opportunity to deliver creative learning training to staff members from Agastya International Foundation. The content of the training was created based on conversations held within the first week of the visit and was bespoke to the requirements of Agastya.
During the course of the training, participants were introduced to the Creative Habits of Mind; the signature pedagogy that underpins the Lead Creative Schools Scheme. One of the senior executives from Agastya explained how important they felt these were and how they would be able to use these moving forward as an evaluation tool on an individual and organisational level.
There were numerous impacts as a result of the visit. On one level, we were able to gain new insights into how creativity might be developed in young people. An example to draw upon was Agastya’s Young Instructor Leader programme which aims to promote creative learning through the empowerment of aspiring individuals; this could be potentially be developed for a Wales context. From the perspective of training and dissemination, there was an increased understanding of what it means to deliver in an international context and how to respond to the requirements of individual organisations. On a broader level, the visit met its primary aim of growing a shared knowledge and understanding of how to develop creativity in young people and supporting those that teach them by engaging with international partners and external creative organisations.
It is anticipated that the conversation with Agastya International Foundation will continue to be developed along with other partners in order to meet this ambition!