Throughout the project media production was seamlessly integrated into the literacy and arts curriculum; it was not bolted on with a sense of privilege or reward, nor taught discreetly as an IT lesson, but woven sensitively into other activities without fanfare. Photoshop montage was used as a means through which a surreal narrative – inspired by their own photographs and other found resources – could be written and recorded in their sketchbooks.
Having completed research at the Poetry Library, their London poems were lifted off the page and embodied through filmed performances outside the RFH. See the movie on the school website, along with various podcasts and meticulously kept blogs of the whole project. The children were each given the chance to have a go at filming and made decisions about camera distance based on the content of each poem.
A further opportunity for public display was afforded by the use of time-lapsed Southbank scenes as a backdrop whilst they performed their poems in the foreground with accompanying dramatic gestures. See below: telferscot_culturalcampus_interview.mov @ 05:02 mins onwards.
This video then ran like a commentary to the rest of their “Festival of Britain” installation. Children watched the video of themselves performing repeatedly, indicating that this is a medium of compelling interest to them, one which generates a sense of familiarity, strangeness and delight. As already stated, such an ambiguous terrain is well-suited for pedagogic intervention in multi-disciplinary educational contexts.
It is clear from the videoed poems that the normal hierarchical structures inherent in traditional literacy teaching have been unsettled: the emphasis is not on how well you can inscribe but on how well you can communicate your thoughts and ideas rhetorically, through gesture and voice. What surfaces is not the individual aptitude of the children but their collective, uninhibited willingness to experience wonder, to indulge their imagination and produce an entertaining group performance, even from the most challenged and ordinarily challenging children. As earlier, see above embedded video: telferscot_culturalcampus_interview.mov @ 05:02 mins and the ensuing 4 mins.
The link between motivated creative engagement and opportunities for public performance is explicitly revealed in this exercise. Arguably much of its success was down to the opportunities for recursive rehearsal afforded by creative media processes: you do not make and correct mistakes in a traceable way, you experiment and overlay design revisions, the route is invisible and immaterial – an empowering experience, especially for struggling children. Integrated immersion in an environment combining established literacy and craft practices, digital media processes, and oral and gestural performance has proved fertile territory for the creation and sharing of quality texts and for the inspiring of confidence.