If we are so keen for universities to be different, why are they being forced to meet the same guidelines? The Guardian’s Estelle Morris reminisces about a bygone era of polytechnics and institutes of science/technology, and wonders why universities are having to now all “jump through the same hoops”…
Although we tend to think of autism as a lifelong condition, one scientist is challenging this belief by studying how people with autism can “retrain” their brain to overcome the condition. Dr James Cusack, himself diagnosed with autism at age 12 and told he would never lead a normal independent life, is now a married father with a PhD.
As many of you will know, Jimmy Anderson, father of Crossfields International lecturer Fergus Anderson, recently passed away. Jimmy’s daughter Fiona has written his obituary for the Guardian, which serves as a fascinating glimpse into an extraordinary life.
According to Mark Brown at the Guardian, the creative side of education has been systematically pushed aside, resulting in fewer pupils taking up creative subjects at GCSE level. A recent study into the topic, the Warwick commission report, estimates that the creative arts sector is valued at £76,9bn, or to put it another way: 5% of the British economy.
Dr. Kenneth Gibson, Head of Academic Engagement for Crossfields Institute, had this to say:
“One of the major findings from the Warwick Report, as reported here by Mark Brown, states that white middle-class adults continue to make up the bulk of the audience for the arts and culture which they have produced themselves and which ultimately is a reflection of their own values. It also tells us implicitly that the humanities and arts subjects in our education systems do not matter to those in government and this is one of the reasons for the downward trend in the participation of the bulk of the population in most cultural and artistic activities. As the report says: ‘Creativity, culture and the arts are being systematically removed from the education system.’
One of the reasons for this, as Sarah Churchwell says in a recent article, is the widely view held ‘among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities’ that the arts are of no value and because of their constant questioning of ‘what are the arts for’ there is a gradual diminishing of their importance for society as a whole. It is possible to suggest that these individuals have little or no understanding for a creative education and need to consider that everything from poetry, painting, literature and all arts and humanities based subjects are the basis for a balanced and enlightened education and its positive impact on society as a whole.
As many past and present educators have argued, the creative arts and humanities should be firmly anchored in the curriculum at all levels of the education system from birth to death. In his report for the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, Ken Robinson suggests that a creative education should contain, among other things the cultivation of imagination where ‘imaginative activity is the process of generating something original: providing an alternative to the expected, the conventional, or the routine’. Thus it should be innovative and encourage individuals to think and act in creative and imaginative ways to solve problems and view the world from many different perspectives. Therefore if we value the enrichment of lives; want to give new insights into everything including business models and politics; foster social justice and equality; teach people to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions and develop empathy then art, literature, music and all forms of creativity need to be deeply embedded in all our education systems and not be just for the select few.”
Mol an Óige, Ireland’s first official Steiner school, is now providing education to 136 pupils and growing. The school’s “delayed approach to formal learning” takes the focus away from textbooks and more towards developing critical thinking; yet they are still able to meet the required curriculum. Click here to read more…
Pishwanton Wood is the home of the Life Science Trust and a centre for environmental education, research and therapy. It offers opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to renew and deepen their relationship with nature. There is much that Crossfields Institute have in common with them. Visit their website for news of short and long courses and events in a beautiful setting in Southern Scotland www.pishwanton.org
“Crossfields Institute would like to express its deep regret and sadness at the passing of our dear colleague and friend, Bruce Irvine. Bruce was a warm, intensely intelligent and witty colleague, and it has been our great pleasure to work with him in the last few years. We send our deepest condolences and support to all staff and students of the Grubb School. From the Trustees and Executive Group, on behalf of all colleagues at Crossfields Institute.”
Charlotte Von Bulow Chief Executive of Crossfields Institute
Engaging with the Principles of Plant Alchemy as a Basis for Personal and Social Development
April 8th/9th/10th – 9am to 5pm each day Venue: Centre for Science and Art, 13 Lansdown, Stroud Cost: £150.00
A basic premise for alchemical work is that the physical world and its processes are images of the processes at work in soul transformation. For example, a retort is either a sharp response in an argument or a laboratory device for returning vapours from burning substances back into precipitates. The laboratory work in alchemy employs many such devices and processes that can be used for soul contemplation. In this workshop there will be a focus on hands-on work with laboratory equipment used in processes concerned with the formation of a spagyric medicament or quintessence. The various alchemical fires and heat sources used will be a key theme throughout the workshop.
Morning presentations led by Dennis Klocek will focus on the lab apparatus work and afternoon sessions led by Jonathan Code will focus on contemplative and creative approaches to work with alchemical imagery.
Dennis Klocek, MFA, is Director of Consciousness Studies at Rudolf Steiner College and Co-founder of the Coros Institute. He is the author of Sacred Agriculture:The Alchemy of Biodynamics. www.dennisklocek.com
Jonathan Code, MEd, is a Lecturer with the Faculty of Environment and Transdisciplinary Studies of the Crossfields Institute. He is the author of Muck and Mind: Encountering Biodynamic Agriculture – An Alchemical Journey.