Note about the Inspire conference and anthology
‘Inspire: Exciting Ways of Being Creative’ was a conference hosted online by Goldsmiths’ Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, on 15th and 16th April 2021, 9.30am-4.15pm.
The conference explored through a series of dynamic online workshops and lectures how we can inspire people of all generations to be creative. It was in part a celebration of the publication of Inspire: Exciting Ways of Teaching Creative Writing (ed. Brankin, Gilbert & Sharples: 2020). You can access a free copy of this wonderful book here: https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/29515/
Inspiring creative writing in schools
Below is an unedited video of the introduction to my keynote address for the Goldsmiths Inspire Conference, 15th April 2021, hosted by Goldsmiths Centre for Language, Culture and Learning and MA Creative Writing and Education Please note Dr Vicky Macleroy, Dr Francis Gilbert and Carinya Sharples introduce this talk, and my key note address starts after about 15 minutes, with the practice activities and resources starting after about 30 mins in. Please free to scroll to the relevant section.
In this keynote speech, I seek to address the following key questions: What does it mean to write creatively? What are the barriers to facilitating creative writing practices in the current educational landscape? How might we overcome them? Why should we bother? Can writing creatively be means to a wider academic end? Does this matter? Should we, as educators, try to justify creative writing as having tangible benefits for students? Can we afford not to? Is it important that educators make time to be creative themselves?
I aim to answer these questions and more, while also providing practical ideas, exemplars and resources to help educators of all persuasions facilitate creative writing exercises with their students.
It wasn’t long ago that I was a Goldsmith MA student myself, so it was a great pleasure and a privilege for me to deliver this keynote speech for the Inspire Creativity conference.
My focus was to look at some of the barriers to fostering creativity (and particularly in the domain of creative writing) in the current educational landscape, and then offer ideas, resources and suggestions as to how educators can foster creativity in students. Although I stressed that, in general, educators should resist pseudo-justifications encouraging creativity (i.e. – being creative is almost always a valuable process in and of itself and regardless of outcome), being the Head of an English department myself I was particularly keen to be pragmatic when acknowledging the pressures teachers are under. Therefore, I sought to suggest creative exercises which, while excellent in their own right, can also be used to develop understanding of some of the core threshold concepts of English Literature and Language curriculum(s). Through a series of short activities, I looked at how educators can encourage ‘low-stakes’ creative exercises, and then go on to foster creative response from students by using high quality style-models. The extracts used on the day included the Lyrics of Barrie Louis Polisar’s ‘All I Want Is You’, Leone Ross’s ‘The Woman Who Lived in A Restaurant’ (from her collection ‘Come Let Us Sing Anyway’ – Peepal Tree Press, 2017), John McGregor’s ‘The First Punch’ (first published in Granta Magazine) and ‘The Red Wheelbarrow’, by William Carlos Williams.
It was a lot of fun!