The purpose of this study is to examine the educational policies, strategies and initiatives influencing how, where, and what I teach, both within my own work setting, and in the wider higher education environment.
My teaching practice is similar to many of the tutors that work as part of the Central Production Unit (CPU) at the RCS. I draw upon my experience as a continuing professional to teach the Production Arts and Design students current and up to date professional practice methods. My work place at the RCS is an educational environment that uses theatre and opera productions as a vehicle for the students learning. I facilitate the students from years 1-3 through the process of each production in conjunction with the learning outcomes set by the module. Its my responsibility to never forget this is a context of learning and exploration driven by institutional context, national and international educational contexts.
The Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020
Its 4 pillars are:
‘Driving focused excellence
Advancing lifelong learning
Embracing our role as a national and international performing arts institution’
In section 2 ‘Promoting Diversity’ it is detailed that the RCS must:
‘Diversify art forms and disciplines, enrich the pool of talent, and connect more widely and deeply with diverse communities.’ And ‘Nurture the talent of more of Scotland’s young people, so as to increase their choices and opportunities.’ (RCS, 2015)
The diversity objective will hopefully carry on the work of the 2010-15 strategy by promoting students from diverse backgrounds and social situations which will enrich the talent within the RCS.
By exploring the transferrable skills that the Scenic art students learn during their 3-year degree, I can promote other career paths and art forms that the students can explore through work placements, project work or after graduating. This offers ‘choice and flexibility’ (RCS, 2015) as required in the driving focused excellence section. By promoting a diverse skill set and encouraging the students to explore and investigate themselves this will hopefully plant the seeds of professional development. It also drives me to explore and discover materials and techniques that will be relevant to the students as they enter the sector.
I am influenced by the ideas presented, to ‘Nurture talent, creativity ‘and ‘Build partnerships and new relationships nationally and internationally.’ (RCS, 2015) By promoting diversity, lifelong learning and focused excellence my aspiration is to expose the students to as rich a culture of performing arts and arts as possible which will enable them to engage with their subject, career path and artistic community.
It is an opportunity to promote staff professional development, build relationships nationally that benefit the learner’s journey as well as the RCS’s place within arts education. For myself as a teacher, it provides me with the foundation for good teaching practice and compass for the principles that an RCS teacher should aspire to achieve.
The award winning Transitions 20/40 is the initiative for Scottish residents living at postcodes that are identified as being within the 40% on the Scottish index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) list. It’s aim is to support students from 15 years old until they have achieved a place in a degree course at the Conservatoire or university level. They receive a personal learning plan and 1-2-1 tuition and class study. They also receive a mentor which advises them in career guidance and their own personal learning journey. The ambitions of the initiative are:
- ‘be encouraged to develop and grow
- receive tailored support, particular to their needs
- be able to interact with like-minded students and expand their social horizons
- receive preparation and guidance for further FE/HE level studying’
Transitions 20/40 increases the diversity of the student body and also increase the number of students that have a deeper connection with the RCS, as they progress through their journey and on to their career they will stay connected and increase the well of mentors and advisors for the scheme. The teaching practice hasn’t been significantly influenced by this initiative as every tutor introduces and develops production skills to the students through the productions. The RCS staff are aware of the support needs of any transitions students. It benefits me as a teacher and the student body to have more diversity to interact with and transitions opens HE and the performing arts/scenic art/RCS to people who may never have this opportunity before.
‘Unlocking potential; Embracing ambition
A shared plan for the arts, screen and creative industries 2014 -2024′
(Creative Scotland, 2013)
Creative Scotland (CS) is the funding body that the majority of arts institutions get their money from. They fund a variety of projects from small scale community work, theatres such as Royal Lyceum and TV productions such as Outlander. The students that graduate from the productions courses will come into contact with Creative Scotland, some will have to complete funding applications or have their job role be part of a fund application. It is important to understand Creative Scotland’s vision for the arts, their ambitions are
- Ideas are brought to life by a diverse, skilled and connected leadership and workforce
- Everyone can access and enjoy artistic and creative experiences
- Excellence and experimentation across the arts, screen and creative industries is recognised and valued
(Creative Scotland, 2013)
The RCS’s own policies on diversity and equality match CS’s, that the arts and education should be accessible by everyone for everyone. The opportunity this presents to a public that will become exposed to the arts than ever before and then they themselves could become interested in participating in the productions of arts. More exposure from CS builds our student body of the future. I must also work to build the skills of the students to become the workforce that helps bring to fruition the ideas and visions.
For reflection on this context please refer to my blog entry:
Higher Education Governance Bill
‘The Bill’, introduced in June 2015, is the most recent to be published by the Scottish Government on governance of higher education.
‘The Policy Memorandum states that the Bill is intended to: ‘enable a framework of higher education governance that is more modern, inclusive and accountable”
(The Scottish Goverment, 2015)
The inclusion of students on the Governing body for higher education institutions is important to show that students have a say in the way their education is being run by the government and any policy changes that could effect their education and future involvement in HE and FE. My students must be allowed to voice their opinions on matters that effect them and I intend to access their feedback to improve lessons in the future and for future years. This makes the student feel like their individual voice matters within a large institution and I always encourage them to give any form of feedback to the academic staff.
The Four “Pillars of Learning”, Zhou Nan-Zhao
‘It lies at the center of educational processes in enabling learners to become not only successful learning achievers at school but also responsible citizens, effective workers, caring community members, and life-long learners, in an increasingly interdependent world.’
(Zhou Nan-Zhao, 2015)
This paper details the goals for education and the reorganization of curriculums in response to the 21st century’s learner. The four pillars are:
‘Learning to know
Learning to do
Learning to live together
Learning to be’
(Zhou Nan-Zhao, 2015)
I’m influenced by the way this paper interprets the learners journey from the student ‘experiencing the pleasure of knowing, discovering and understanding as a process’ (Zhou Nan-Zhao, 2015) to the application of the knowledge they have gained. An aspect I’m very much interested in by way of the “flipped classroom”. See: https://scottmcintoshsite.wordpress.com/2015/11/01/salman-khan-lets-use-video-to-reinvent-education/
‘the interdependence of, all humans; empathy and cooperative social behavior in caring and sharing; respect of other people and their cultures and value systems; capability of encountering others and resolving conflicts through dialogue; and competency in working towards common objectives’
(Zhou Nan-Zhao, 2015)
As a degree course (and industry) that promotes and relies on teamwork, I want to engage the students in thinking of their peers (of their own course but the whole RCS student body) as teammates and collaborators in the RCS context and beyond. This will shape the industry in years to come and create professionals that are sharing the knowledge they discover.
The four pillars are ‘a conceptual framework and points of reference’ (Zhou Nan-Zhao, 2015) for the educator and stakeholder to interpret and experiment with and to create a diverse and engaging curriculum with these values.
The formative years of my teaching practice have been influenced by policies both in the higher education, national and international educational contexts, and also in the professional industry context. It is important to overlap these communities of practice as each helps shape my practice as a teaching artist.
Creative Scotland Strategic Plan [WWW document], n.d. . Creative Scotland http://www.creativescotland.com/what-we-do/the-10-year-plan (Accessed 2.15.16)
UNESCO The four pillars of Learning [WWW document], n.d. 2015 http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/networks/global-networks/aspnet/about-us/strategy/the-four-pillars-of-learning/