PDP – Constellation

Despite the fact that I’ve always enjoyed reading and certainly writing, something I have struggled with since first year was finding relevance to my course within Constellation. I will always remember a terrible lecture we had in first year on William Morris and ceramics and I just couldn’t understand what purpose this would possibly serve. Contextualising my practice makes sense, but I couldn’t make any connections with the context they were providing us. This has definitely changed now that the nature of Constellation has become a lot more focussed on what we want to be learning about, rather than what we have to learn.

I thoroughly enjoy the written aspect of the course and the dissertation is something I’ve been looking forward to writing and exploring since we started in first year. The obvious first step was to identify something that I was passionate about, something that would hold my interest for the next year – if I found it boring or taxing then I’d inevitably lose interest pretty quickly.

Initially, I had chosen to pursue the module led by Catherine Davies, as I had missed out on the opportunity in first year: she’s a popular lady! I was over the moon that I’d managed to secure a place because it meant exploring something that I found captivating and worthwhile. I have a great deal of interest in femininity in visual media, particularly with how women are presented a certain way. It’s something I had written about in first year with Mahnaz so to explore this in greater detail has been really beneficial to my understanding and contextualising some of my own work. It can be difficult sometimes to contextualise to our practice within Graphic Communication, as a lot of the time we are given briefs that do not necessarily lend themselves to exploring what you would really like to look at. A branding exercise for a company does not usually lend itself to an exploration of femininity, the female form, the ‘goddess’ or the ‘monster’. The portrayal of both women and men in media is something that I now feel a great deal of awareness about, and I think it’s something that will continue to inform and help me.

When required to submit a dissertation ‘idea’ form, I didn’t want to stick to what I had already done – albeit a short 3,000 word essay on the portrayal of women in media in first year, which was very similar to what Cath was teaching through the Goddesses and Monsters theme. I wanted to stretch myself and come out of my comfort zone. As I have an interest in teaching, creativity, and art and design, and is a career I look to pursue, I decided to look more at the idea of creativity within education, and how this is changing or being effected within schools. I have been assigned Mahnaz as my tutor which I’m definitely looking forward to as I worked with her in first year. Some of the tutorials we had were helpful in pointing me in the direction of some well-known authors in the field of developmental psychology and the role that this plays in our fundamental creative tendencies. This essay has really peaked an interest, as it’s overwhelmingly clear that what is being explored by psychologists and in the education literature is not transcending to schools, certainly not in my own personal experience and evidenced by a decreasing level of interest in artistic/creative subjects in school. According to a Guardian article, the amount of money given to the arts (0.3% of public spending) is negligible compared to what is generated within the arts sector; whether it be exhibitions, museums, stage production, music, drama.

This all started very loosely, and it still feels a bit that way, but after speaking with Mahnaz I wanted to look more at the idea of creativity as a subject, as something that could be or can’t be taught. Certain theorists I’ve studied have differing standpoints on this, but using the psychology behind creativity will be more a basis from which to work. Placing this research within the realm of a modern day classroom, or even workplace, and whether or not we’re truly getting the best out of people. Is creativity the final piece of the puzzle that people aren’t tapping into? It is my belief that we could be generating scores of bright, creative people, but we’re not. Why is that? Even in the workplace we are encouraged to get our heads down, get on with our work, and get by. Where are the new ideas? Are they being discouraged?

I want to look at the ways in which we implement creativity, and how we think. The ways in which we interact with each other and the world around us is fundamental to our existence, and central to our success as a species. Our understanding informs us but it also shapes us. If we’re not being allowed to reach our fullest potential, if creativity is this untapped resource that few are accessing, can we truly understand what’s happening around us and make informed yet radical decisions? Or do we all just stay the same, like cogs in some great machine.

I think this subject is something that is of pertinence to my course, as Graphic Communication is a way of problem-solving and ideation. It requires smart thoughts and new ideas, and to me is a perfect example of being taught how to tackle a problem creatively. Yes, we are taught ‘creative thinking’ strategies, how to mind-map or use other techniques, but at it’s core there is a simple truth – you are presented with a problem, go and find the best way to deal with it. Without the thinking of a few who thought quite far outside of the box, we would be living in a very different 2016. Phones, tablets, television, apps and even our print-based medias might not be what they are today without those creative thinkers.

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