This Creative Partnership was established for boys in grades 8–10 with a focus on the science curriculum. The school found the behaviour of some of the boys in middle school disruptive and damaging to the ability of the whole class to learn. We worked with City District school to partner them with an artist whose creative approach to scientific learning was nothing like the school or pupils had seen before.
The topics to be covered in class ranged widely, from solutions to suspensions and chemical changes through to the solar system. Where the teacher would have relied on standard text books for these lessons, the artist took a different style, introducing more practical and fun activities into the classroom.
Of the 32 sessions with the class, the artist spent two sessions working with the pupils to draw up a set of roles and responsibilities, questioning what it was about science that worried the pupils. This developed a sense of trust and established a commitment from the pupils, the teacher and the artist to work on the lessons together.
The remaining sessions tackled the topic with a creative energy new to the pupils. Practical cooking sessions were carried out to explore the transmission of hear energy, sound waves were investigated using guitars, and the solar system was brought vividly to life using creative arts and fluorescent paint to recreate the galaxy across the blacked out classroom.
The impact of this Creative Partnership was evident almost immediately in City District school. In general, levels of interest, engagement and attention increased. The pupils displayed an eagerness for the next session to begin and even began to talk about the possibility of having sessions outside of the standard school time. Importantly, attendance improved by 5% over the 32 sessions.
The goal of this programme was to tackle anti-learning behaviour. Throughout all the practical sessions, it was the most disruptive pupils who became the most responsible, taking an active role in the lessons and displaying real enthusiasm for leading projects.
The teachers noted the change in the boys’ attitudes and were curious to find out more about the methods. Half way through the programme there was a distinct camaraderie between the teachers and the pupils as they both worked together to create tasks and establish new ways of teaching and learning together. This was crucial to changing the boys’ disruptive behaviour; instead of just being handed a task to complete, they were now working with the teacher and had a responsibility to create and complete the activity together.