Sunday, 19 October 2014

Nourishing Creativity.

I don't often go for controversial statements on my blog but here goes: my grammar school education stifled my creative side at the age of 11. At primary I was a fairly good all round student who enjoyed all subjects equally but once I started grammar school I was being constantly told that I was no good at certain subjects or needed to work harder. This was especially true of the more creative subjects like art & home economics (or domestic science as it was in my day) but also maths & science. So I think around the age of 12 I began to actually believe that I was no good at art or drawing or thinking creatively & I shut down that side of my brain & concentrated on bring more academic & 'wordy'. 
I would also say I began to believe that I wasn't practically minded as I was instead bound for university & an academic route, I often heard it said that many teachers (university graduates in general) have no common sense & I really think I believed that.

Fast forward to 2013 when I had the opportunity to become friends with & then spend time in the company of two incredibly practical, creative & innovative people. I use the term entrepreneurs in the real sense of the word when describing these two men, they never stop seeing the potential in things & are constantly challenging themselves to make the next thing or create the best resource they can. Neither rests on their laurels & by spending time with them I too began to view things differently. 
Martin, came over to visit & built us a mud kitchen in 2 days! (with the help & supply of materials by a dad)
'Mr Cosy' as I like to refer to Pete!
They are Martin Besford from Highway Farm Activity Centre,  ( Peter Ellse from Cosy Direct, ( feel very privileged to have spent time in their company & to have them as friends. I would also describe them both as being more like hyperactive 3 year olds than grown men but I do believe that is what makes them both so successful in what they do. If you spend any time in their company, you can't help but feel that anything is possible & sure what's to lose by trying something new or out of your comfort zone. Don't get me wrong, both are the ultimate in professionalism when required to give presentations or running successful businesses but their enthusiasm for life is infectious. As a direct result of being friends with these two I have rediscovered my creative side! 

I signed up for an 8 week art course this Autumn & was convinced I'd really struggle with the whole creative side of it, as I was so sure I was not artistic, I often joke that I can't even draw a stick man. However, this course has been a real eye opener, mainly because the artist, Anna O'Kane, puts no expectations on any of us. She shows us lots of open ended inspirations & then encourages us to have a go for ourselves. There is never a set look for any end product & each week the 17 of us all usually end up engrossed for an hour & half & with totally different pieces at the end of each session. It has been so refreshing for me to have others pass by as I work & comment 'Oh you are so creative' or 'You have great ideas', I almost feel like looking behind me to see who they are talking to! 
The idea was to make a willow lantern - I just saw a fish the minute the willow was bent!
In the past 5 weeks I have really begun to see the value of being allowed to try new things without fear of getting it wrong or making a mess. It is weird that the very approach I make sure to have with the children in my class is the one I should have been taking in life for myself. That can do attitude is what makes me love teaching nursery & the fact that the children are willing to take risks, try new experiences on a daily basis & dust themselves down if or when it goes wrong & just try again, makes it the most rewarding job in the world. 
So here's to nurturing the creative side in us all & realising that we are never too old to learn new things, embrace different experiences or think outside the box. 


  1. As a fellow Northern Irish doll who also went through the grammar school system, I whole heartedly agree with you. Until I became an early years teacher 6 years ago I didn't think I had a creative bone in my body. It was been such a joy to realise that no, I'm not totally useless at art, even though I still can't draw and that there is SO much more to it than that! Great post and love the blog. Alison x

    1. Hello Alison, I hadn't realised you were from here too, I love your blog as well, mutual appreciation all round. Such a pity our education system tends to stifle our creative side.

  2. That is so interesting as I would describe you as very creative -- and this post challenged me to think why I would describe you that way. I realized that it is that you are creative with ideas, thinking outside the box, and really skilled at looking at relationships between ideas. You are a problem-solver in regards to practice or how to overcome obstacles while maintaining principles. In the end, this might be the very thing that you bring to your friendships/working relationships with other creative types. It is a win, win!

    In the meantime, that willow fish you made is pretty impressive all on its own!

    1. Now that is interesting as that thinking outside the box outlook is exactly the kind of attitude grammar schools don't like or encourage, so that may explain why I felt I wasn't creative. The expectation to conform to an agreed final product is just not me! Thanks for such a lovely comment.


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