My creativity is worth paying for

 

I’m a writer who teaches and a teacher who writes. A teaching creative. Helping others discover and explore their creativity is as much an artistic delight and achievement to me as making my own work. Sometimes schools, which may naively assume that art costs nothing to produce and artists zero euro to maintain, ask me to work for little or nothing. For reasons that concern us all, this is foolish.

Creativity in education will be central to building the creative nation Ireland needs to become to raise ourselves from miserable dependency. Professionalising the workshop sector and integrating it into public education is one obvious way to help this along.

Writers and other artists in schools help students, no matter what their background or issues, to freely explore their creativity in the way most appropriate to them. Being different is encouraged, fear of going wrong removed. Children can have their educational experience and outcomes utterly transformed by this.

I’ve gained much creative teaching expertise working with libraries, youth clubs, festivals and schools. I couldn’t have done this without reasonable payment. Sometimes sponsors or bodies such as Poetry Ireland provide funds. Cash-strapped schools interested in having writers come in should research outside funding. Schools that ask teaching creatives to work for little or nothing endanger the sector by tying it to amateurism.

Last year, in partnership with the MA in poetry studies at Dublin City University, I designed three successful creative literacy projects in inner-city schools in Dublin. Forty-six out of 50 students said the workshops helped them to express themselves, 40 believed that they helped improve reading and writing, and 48 wanted more creative literacy classes. All 11 of the teachers involved believed that my creative literacy should be part of mainstream teaching and teacher training.

This enthusiasm reflects the way a creative approach can help with many issues pressing in on the resource-starved Irish classroom. These range from literacy to social confidence, emotional and behavioural difficulties, and learner autonomy. Often the students who were shyest, most “difficult” or both, given consistent encouragement, advanced rapidly.

It’s a glorious privilege to witness a child realising their creative freedom and confidence and to see their whole personality flowering because of this. But the individual only blooms in a fecund atmosphere of group support for individual creativity. The whole-class, whole-society approach is crucial. Creativity is each child’s right. We’ll move forward together or we won’t move forward at all.

davelordanwriter.com

Watch out for

The latest edition of the free online Dublin Review of Books, at drb.ie. This marks the beginning of “a new DRB, with greatly enhanced content and a new model of publication”. The journal, one of whose editors is the Irish Times journalist Enda O’Doherty, will in future be continuously updated and the essays for which it is known will be supplemented by shorter reviews, blog posts and extracts from new books.

Kaarina Hollo’s translation, from Irish into English, of Marbhghin 1943: Glaoch ar Liombo/Stillborn 1943: Calling Limbo, a poem by the Bantry-born Derry O’Sullivan, which has won this year’s Times Stephen Spender translation prize.

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