According to a survey, staff and students in universities are reluctant to seek help for mental health problems. The Guardian’s Clare Shaw finds that they are worried about being treated differently if they reveal that they have been suffering from mental illness.
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.
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.”
As more and more children are accessing the internet with mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, this raises various questions regarding the risks versus the benefits. Of course, access to useful educational information is of tremendous value, but there are potential dangers involved if children have access to everything that the internet offers. A new project called Net Children Go Mobile, a project supported by the London School of Economics and co-funded by the European Commision’s Safe Internet Programme, has been set up to study this subject in great detail, with the aim of more fully understanding children’s use of mobile technology and the impact it has on their lives.
It is common sense that the key to bright and brilliant future generations is education. Yet a recent analysis of the top 500 global businesses revealed that only a small amount of their philanthropic and social investment budget was channelled into education. If these businesses were to provide extra funding, we could begin to tackle such severe global concerns as the fact that 58 million children in developing countries do not have access to primary schools.
In her article on the guardian.com, journalist Eleanor Ross writes that many students struggle with the enforced structure of the traditional educational approach. Could it be that the way forward is fewer rules, more freedom, and more autonomy for the students? Atlantic College and Summerhill are just two examples of educational centres where this more liberal approach is working extremely well.
Charlotte von Bulow, Chief Executive of Crossfields Institute, says:
“Within our debates and conversations about more autonomy and freedom for students, we need to keep asking the bigger question about what freedom really means in an educational context. We need to look at notions like freedom from versus freedom to, and perhaps we even need to start thinking about what freedom in means. Initially, I believe we need to create educational contexts within which students feel free to ask questions and take initiative. In essence, we need to create educational processes that facilitate that students are free to be who they truly are and that they feel invited to pursue the realisation of their potential. This is a process of developing self-knowledge. When we begin to get to know ourselves we can also to begin to understand more fully what it means to take responsibility for our actions. This can then instigate an inquiry into what freedom in action may look like from the point of view of developing an ethical individualism.”
What were the original ideals of the university and how do they relate to what the university has become today? How can new ideas of ethical, embodied transformative practice help to reimagine and revitalize the university?
The conference is for educators, practitioners and researchers from different disciplines who are interested in innovative approaches to teaching and learning in higher education including:
embodied teaching and learning methods that involve the whole human being in the learning process.
participatory learning that challenges and redefines how valid knowledge is created.
learning that helps students develop into the ethical leaders of the future.
inter-disciplinary practice that bridges the divide between arts, humanities and sciences as a way of opening up new approaches to learning and knowledge.
This collaborative event is organised by the University of Gloucestershire, Crossfields Institute, and Alanus University (Germany), with a contribution from the Ruskin Mill Field Centre