Wednesday, January 10, 2018

'A World of Difference' :the philosophy of a Taranaki pioneer creative teacher - Bill Guild

 Bill's booklet. It is important for creative teachers to share their ideas

Bill exploring a wasp nest
A world of difference.

In 2003 Bill Guild attended the Frankley Road  150th Jubilee a school he had been principal of for 28 years from 1959 to 1986. An accomplished photographer Bill complied a book A World of Difference of the experiences and creativity of the students he taught to share with past students attending.. Later an edited booklet was shared widely with teachers throughout New Zealand who knew of the quality of teaching he was well known for.

Maybe its time to share his ideas again?

A little bit of history.
Historical photo of Frankley School
Bill was a key figure of a group of Taranaki teachers that had gained reputation for the  creative programmes they were implementing. My previous blog celebrated another such teacher John Cunningham and I thought it a good ideas to focus on Bill - who by the way turns 91 this year and is as enthusiastic about creativity as he ever was and a whiz on his Apple computer!.

Bill had been involved with the Related Arts courses run  by the Art Advisers of the time, courses which encouraged teachers to move away from fragmented timetables of the 50s  to  develop integrated programmes ..
The cover shows one of Bill's students carefully observing a wasp nest
 Other influences were the English primary schools which at the time were recognised for their child centred approach and the American Open Education movement. Bill , along with other teachers,  was inspired by the work of New Zealand pioneer creative teacher from the 50s Elwyn Richardson whose book In the Early World became our bible.
Recently republished by the NZCER

In 1976 Bill was invited to share his ideas a World Art Education Conference held in Adelaide. Bill's work was also a feature of the then Education Departments Art in Schools book. His contribution to education was also recognised by the NZEI.

The ideas that Bill developed 1970- 1986  may be useful for today's teachers and they return their focus to developing students creativity and  imagination.

In Bill's own words:

When Bill retired he gave me notes of talks he had given and his philosophy  aligns well with the spirit of the , all but currently sidelined, 2007 New Zealand Curriculum.

The raku kiln -art and science

The teacher's role

'To me the teachers' role is vastly different. No longer the font of all knowledge but rather a counsellor, adviser, partner, guide, questioner, prompter and confidant.'

School as a learning community.

'I believe that schools must be learning communities where students learn, with our assistance, the things they want to learn; when they want to learn them; how they want to learn them; and why they want to learn them; all through their own curiosity'.
A community of artists and scientists

'As a group we were disillusioned with the traditional pre-packaged approach ...largely adult conceived....including ability grouping. Attributes such as co-operation, understanding and sharing were largely given lip service. We believed that learning should stem from the natural but vital curiosity of children and it should centre around real experiences'.

Skill required to achieve quality work.

'Skills...such as focus, concentration, craftsmanship, introspection and independent inquiry need to be introduced.' 'Presentation and display skills need extra special attention and the creative areas given new emphasis.' We felt such independent self motivated learners would be more able to cope with the future with assurance and zest. People who are responsible for their own learning, able to make relevant choices, seem to be the kinds of people best suited to cope with future society.'
Interpreting a mountain spring

'To achieve work of high quality, which gives satisfaction and a feeling of personal success, there is a need to slow down the pace of work so the enjoyment is experienced as the work progresses and the finished piece reflects, not only thought, but pride of craftsmanship. Slowing down the working pace of children and allowing them time to reflect and saviour their discoveries and achievements.'

'The role of the teacher is to encourage and stimulate pupils to seek knowledge for themselves.'

An emphasis on displays to inspire students.
Display based on a colonial study

'Carefully arranged teacher displays', are a feature, and were based on, 'environmental, language, or maths topics'.'As the topic progresses the work of children is added to the display until it becomes an amalgam of both the children and the teachers efforts.' 'It is most important to acknowledge, in a meaningful way, the value of a piece of work.' 'These displays provide a window to the world revealing the work being done in literature, individual interests, the environmental and experiences shared by the class or as individuals.'

Making use of the immediate environment.

'There is an emphasis on the immediate environment. It is the teachers role to reveal the unknown in the familiar and to help children to discover the unnoticed world within their environment.' However, the interests of the children cover a wide range from fact to fantasy.' 'The school is a base from which to explore their environment.'
Crossing a 3 wire bridge on Mount Taranaki
An exciting experience but not possible today!
Great for language and art.
Providing student choice.

Gradually, with experience and growing confidence in their own abilities, children are given some choice within a very wide topic and finally many children may reach a stage they can be given a complete choice.'
Creating pottery involves a range of choices

'Questioning techniques must be suited to the needs of the learner ...and should be framed in a way as to stimulate greater powers of thought.' 'Plenty of time must be given the children to talk, discuss, disagree, argue, and revise opinions, all of this while refining and defining their solutions.'

The importance of observation
Students carefully observing a mounted pheasant

'Teaching observation is important. I believe we look at so much and see so little. Hence my belief that if we slow down our pace and allow ourselves the gift of observation.

'Without the input of looking future artistic or intellectual output is possible.' 'But drawings must go further than factual information, they are also able to convey feelings, impressions, and emotion. People who look harder, see more and understand more.' 'Drawing is a way of asking questions and drawing answers.'
Such careful observation is a real skill
The process provides opportunity for reflection and for questions to emerge
Observation is all about slowing the pace of work

Drawing involves the, 'outward eye, which is our observing eye, and an inward eye, which looks at feelings, memory, and imagination.' 'Observational drawing is not concerned with mere reproduction'... but result in, ' drawings which are uniquely yours.'
An environment that celebrates students' creativity
Totems the result of American Indian study

Importance of aesthetics

' A sense of design and beauty is an obvious need in our society and very little emphasis, and even scarcer recognition, has been placed on this area of visual education,'

Quality art from a bush study
Note the variety of interpretations

Importance of a task well done- 'personal best'

Research and observations from a mountain trip
Chart illustrates skill in visual design and observation,
'If a thing is worth doing it's worth going well' C K Chesterton
Along with my colleagues I have tried to develop classroom programmes where children are exposed to a variety of ideas and situations. We have tried to take into account the backgrounds and interests of the children as well as they ways in which they learn. All children need success and we feel that this best achieved by children having confidence in themselves to select their own tasks, and through the development of necessary skills and abilities, to complete them to a deep sense of satisfaction in a task well done.'
Art work arising from a colonial study - Hurworth Cottage

The 'new' NZ curriculum  (2007)m with the change to a more teacher friendly government, provides an opportunity for the beginning of new creative era of education
The finished result of an afternoon's observing at St Mary's church


Anonymous said...

Inspirational. Wouldn't mind my kids being in such a creative classroom.

Bruce Hammonds said...

Bill is in touch with many of his old pupils. They express how lucky they were.