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This week Pat and I met up in Falmouth for the Annual Learning and Teaching Conference hosted by the Centre for Pedagogic Arts-based Research (PedARe). PedARe actually was launched on Wednesday night at a lovely celebration at the Maritime Museum, where a lot of networking was going on amidst the sails of various vessels with mulled wine and mince pies (and some cheese, too).

The coference itself kicked off on Thursday morning with a thoughtprovoking keynote by Professor Anna Craft from the University of Exeter. Titled ‘Possibility Thinking and Creativity’, she talked about the quiet revolution that might/will be coming to education through the combination of possibility thinking and creativity, particularly in digital youth.

I was very interested in the concept of ‘meddling in the middle’ – giving students support through enabling a place for uncertainty at some point during the process of learning. ¬†Anna also made the point that wise possibility thinking had the potential to be both gear and game changing, because it challenges what is through asking ‘what if?’ or imagining things ‘as if’. This is particularly the case when combined with the 4 P’s of digital possibility thinking: Pluralities, Possibilities, Playfulness and Participation, which potentially results in creative empowerment and wise, humanising creativity.

As Pat and I went to prepare the first of our joint sessions, it struck me how much these 4 P’s also applied very much to what we are doing, although we are not employing digital means. Pat’s session was conceived as a ‘warm-up’ for writing, giving a very brief overview of some of the methods she uses to get studnets unblocked when it comes to writing. Most of the first couple of activities she suggested were fast and furious, the latter ones could be developed over a much longer amount of time. Unfortunately we didn’t really have the time to enjoy and explore as much as this needs, but some stimulating conversations were started that hopefully will lead to participants giving this a go once they are back at work.

The session I led over lunch focused on using visual analogies to illustrate the hidden academic practice that so often gets overlooked by students. This talk featured The Butterfly Challenge, The Land- and Seascape of Creative Practice, The Underwater Iceberg, The Fishscale of Academicness and the analogy I am currently working on, The Dress-up Doll of Formality. (I promise that one of these days I will get around to posting details of all these here!)

Both of our sessions got a really good response, but at the end of it both Pat and myself were so exhausted that we couldn’t make a useful contribution to the World Cafe session that was the closing session of the event. At the very end Carolyn Bew from the HEA sgared with us her impressions of the event as drawn on her iPad. Overall it was a very enjoyable day.

In the evening some of us went for a drink, where we discussed some ideas for the future. Particularly useful for Pat and myself weas an idea we then turned into an abstract for the upcoming HEA conference in Brighton. We will propose a workshop showing the different starting points a simple button can provide, an idea that came directly out of doing our two sessions. We don’t see each other that often (actually this was only the third time we had met) so it is really nice to see how fruitful these meetings can be if there is a bit more time involved than just the workshop itself! And true to form, over breakfast this morning we were discussing an idea for a workshop in Kent, triggered by the process of editing our abstract. And on the way to the train we were talking about the special issue of the Journal of Writing in Creative Practice that I will be hopefully editing soon, and that gave me a good idea to the direction that could take….

It was a fantastic event all round, the recordings of the sessions that will hopefully be up on the PedARe website soon will be well worth checking out, especially as there was too much on to see everything!

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