As you’ll have seen from the post further down, I’ve been very busy for the past 3 weeks co-ordinating the campaign to save the Livesey Museum for Children. This has been voluntary of course, and is not due to any Flow business interest in the Museum. I’ve wanted to give time out of sympathy for the staff, desire to preserve a resource that is so valued by my community and to draw attention to the value of an arts-based discovery approach to learning.
However, Flow continues to be very successful. Here are a few of our current projects:
- Developing learning resources for schools and families for the international touring exhibition Science of Survival. This is offering a glimpse into the world in 2050, and challenging visitors to explore how we might survive and thrive in a context of climate change.
- Continuing to work with the Wellcome Trust to develop an ‘exhibition in a box’ and CPD provision to promote creative learning in science.
- Facilitating two projects for Creative Partnerships London West. One is working with digital agency Action Dog, on a project with Claremont High and Grove Park Special School enabling children to create metaphorical messages about the environment, using words, images and sounds. See Action Dog’s website. The other is working with three primary schools in the White City area on a creative enquiry project to explore the history of the White City exhibition created for the London Olympics 1908.
- Evaluating the Government Art Collection website
- We have been commissioned to undertake the National Collections Online Study, which is led by a consortium of Culture 24, Science Museum, V&A and National Maritime Museum. More on this soon, as we will create an online community of enquiry for interested specialists.
- We completed the online resource on the history of the North West Passage in a context of climate change, for the National Maritime Museum
- We’ve been asked by the Hunterian Museum (Royal College of Surgeons) to develop their learning programme on the History of Medicine.
- We’ve been facilitating change for the new Learning and Interpretation team at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
There’s more but that will do for the list.
As I mentioned in the last post I’ve been setting up a new business, Flow Associates. See www.flowassociates.com If it was simply me mutating into a company it would be simple but I’m forming it with a full-time partner, Mark Stevenson. It’s more exciting this way but a bigger investment of energy, exploring how we can co-operate with our diverse backgrounds (him: marketing, technology, comedy, science, writing. Me: education, public cultural organisations, literature, culture, art). Despite these different skills we have a lot in common: a love of words; but also thinking in terms of systems; a belief that learning is about making sense of big ideas and solving problems; an interest in new technologies and futures. We’re thinking hard about our ethics and methodologies so I’ve been searching out common interests, e.g. in these links.
I recently twice met an interesting man called John Wood and each time he had a T-shirt that said Attainable Utopias. So I Googled it.
Thinking about innovative ways of establishing partnerships between creative businesses/cultural organisations and schools I came across this:
And the inspiration for our company name, is Csikszentmihaly. I’ve never been one to follow tracts on how to be happy, especially not ones written by Americans, but Flow is different.
Anyone who has worked with me will be shocked. I’ve said ad nauseam that museums are all about learning more than any other function. So what am I saying? I’ve been thinking hard about learning in the process of setting up a new company Flow Associates. What if we said that schools and other learning centres are not about learning but about making, if their purpose is not primarily to impart & test facts & skills but to make makers? But how can making be valid in the information age when craft is less important than abilities to access information across many modes? I mean that we need makers of:
Self: Reflecting, growing, relating
Things: Texts, artworks, products
Meanings: Seeing patterns, links, purposes
Solutions: New ideas and applications
Enterprises: Creating projects and businesses
Changes: Sharing ideas, applying solutions
The world: Expanding realms of action
At the weekend I might say to my daughter, what shall we make today? We’ll make cakes, pictures, dancing shows or plaits in her hair. I might also say, what shall we play? We might invent a new skipping game or a display of cuddly toys. I don’t think I ever say to her, what shall we learn today or what skills shall we practice today? That isn’t natural in a conversation between adult and child. As a fairly academic learner myself, I still struggled to be motivated by formal learning which is driven ultimately by prospects of certificates or good marks or by the threat of failure. Some rare people may be disciplined and able to practice skills for the sake of proving that they’re getting better at them or to be able to read a book when ordered. But what are they disciplined by? I would guess they are either disciplined by fear or they have an extraordinary ability to see a longer-term application of their efforts now, or an uncomfortable swing between the two depending on the particular activity. How many times have children heard teachers say ‘You come here to learn’? What if we changed the record to ‘You come here to change the world’?