Report: Title Creativity and Literacy: many routes to meaning. Children’s language and literacy learning in creative arts projects
Author: Kimberly Safford & Myra Barrs
Institution: Centre for Literacy in Primary Education
(Commissioned and funded by Creative Partnerships London South and CfBT Action Zone – Brixton & North Lambeth)
Full reference: Safford, K., & Barrs, M., 2005. Creativity and Literacy: many routes to meaning. Children’s language and literacy learning in creative arts projects.
Over the period of a school year (Autumn 2003 to Summer 2004) a group of nursery and primary school teachers and children worked with creative ‘arts partners’ in drama, storytelling, visual arts, filmmaking, multimedia, dance and performing arts. Supported by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, the teachers looked at how children’s work in these creative arts positively impacted on their language and literacy learning.
The projects that are the subject of our observations had very different starting points, contexts and outcomes. Teachers and arts partners sometimes related closely to each other and had strong common understandings. Sometimes however, they had conflicting aims, beliefs and roles. In several schools, children showed themselves to be capable of responding sensitively and thoughtfully to work in the creative arts.
Through work in the creative arts, children understand better the uses of literacy. They show increased awareness of the purposes and audiences of literacy. They also show improved attitudes to school literacy and write with more interest and commitment, because their creative arts experiences give them something to think, talk and write about.
Literature, poetry and stories provided cohesive contexts and memorable paths to work in the creative arts. In some projects, a focus on literature brought together reading, writing, making, crafting and bodily enactment in a holistic way that also addressed curriculum demands. Powerful texts equally inspired the teacher and the arts partner and generated deep responses from children; work around texts also had the advantage of drawing on the expertise of the teacher.
This study analyses and compares processes, practices and roles across a range of creative projects in nursery and primary schools and how all of these influence children’s language and literacy learning. The findings presented here are based on Centre for Literacy in Primary Educaton’s (CLPE) classroom observations, field notes, transcripts of children’s talk, children’s individual and collaborative multimodal texts, interviews with children, teachers, headteachers and artists, and teachers’ notes and records.
Research questions include: