Campaign for Creativity

Andria Zafirakou, Art & Textiles Teacher at a school in Brent, wins the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching & Leadership

The award was the idea of Golden Apple founder Martin J. (Mike) Koldyke, who felt that excellent teachers did not receive adequate recognition for their contributions to building a stronger, better-educated society.

A teacher from north London has been announced as winner of a competition to find the world's best teacher. Andria Zafirakou, who teaches art and textiles in a Brent secondary school, has won a prize worth $1m (£720,000). She has spoken of the hardship and overcrowded housing conditions facing many of her pupils. But in accepting the prize, she called for more support for the "power of the arts" in school, particularly for the "poorest communities".

Mrs Zafirakou becomes the first UK winner of the Global Teacher Prize, beating teachers nominated from more than 170 countries. The prize, launched in 2015 by an education charity, the Varkey Foundation, was created to give more status to the teaching profession, with an Oscars-style awards ceremony in Dubai.

Radio 4 programme Woman's Hour broadcast an interview with Mrs Zafirakou which was conducted just after she had received her award, on their programme on Monday 19th March 2018, and she explains why she thinks she won, her work in the community with the familieis of the children she teaches, the value of the art and textiles lessons within the curriculum, and how she intends to use the prize money for forging global links with other incredible educators for the benefit of of her students.

Listen to her interview on Radio 4 by clicking on this link

Textile figureheads launch the Campaign for Creativity at The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2017

Campaign for Creativity

Please sign this petition (petitioning The Rt. Hon Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State for Education) to show your support for the Campaign for Creativity, a campaign led by leading figures from the textile art, craft and design world. Click here to sign:

Children need more opportunities to explore creative subjects if the UK is to retain its world-leading reputation for creativity, according to leading figures from the textile world.

Top artists, craftspeople and designers joined forces to launch the Campaign for Creativity in Education at The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show in London in March 2017.

Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of The Embroiderers' Guild, said: “The rigid nature of the national curriculum provides little opportunity or time for children to express themselves creatively, artistically or professionally. Creativity is vital to child development, not only as a means of expression and communication but to support life skills such as problem-solving, strategic thinking and resilience. Creative thinkers hold the key to the UK’s future success, not just in culture and the arts but across business and industry too. To enable creative students to have opportunities to select, embrace and qualify in creative subjects incrementally in the same pathway development as scientists, lawyers, doctors and others is vital in their long term development.”

“It is suggested that creative subjects will be offered in after-school classes but this will inevitably relegate them to the level of 'hobby' and 'pastime'. Consequently, they will be very low down the list when parents and students make their exam selections, which will eventually signal their death-knell. We must do all we can to ensure creative subjects are not sidelined in the education system.”

If you feel passionately about the importance of creativity, then lend the campaign your support by signing the petition and taking part in some craft activism. Simply stitch your name or signature and bring them along to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show 2018 where they will be added to a giant embroidered petition. If you can’t sew, don’t worry – download the ‘how to’ guide from the show website or get help at the show to get started.

You can sign the petition here:

The show’s stars also backed a campaign to encourage more adults to explore their creative side to improve health and well-being. According to mental health charity MIND, one in four people experience a mental health problem each year such as depression or anxiety . The pursuit of purposeful, meaningful creative activities has been proven to have therapeutic benefits.

The Warwick University Commission also has been researching the cutbacks of creative arts in schools and has issued the following document:

Creative Arts Cutbacks

Why I hate exam season - an article by India Knight in the Sunday Times dated 4th June 2017

Why I hate exam season
Our exam system is horrid. It punishes creative free-thinkers — the very people we need in an automated future

June, and it’s exam season. Man, I hate exams. I hate everything about them. I hate how they’re a stupid person’s measure of cleverness. Clever children are clever, and will continue to be clever regardless of exams, because cleverness is to do with originality, creativity and spark, with taking risks, with oddness, with trotting off down half-made paths and seeing where they lead. You can’t measure any of that by making a child sweat with anxiety as he or she tries to remember X textbook fact because it’s worth Y points.

I also hate exams because they’re 20th century. They don’t understand the future jobs market; they can’t measure, let alone reward, the enviable advantages of people who are clever about dresses, or about plants, or about making pots. That’s a shame, because the fashion designers and potters aren’t the people whose jobs are going to be taken over by robots. Creativity is the future. This is thrilling, and ignored by an education system that rewards only children who can parrot the answer to everything. Creativity isn’t about the right answer. It’s about the answer that is most interesting. What chance does it stand?

I was recently cheered up by an interview with the American billionaire investor Mark Cuban about the way the jobs market is changing. Robots will replace humans across a wide spectrum of industries, he said. “I personally think there’s going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than for programming majors and maybe even engineering. Because when all the data is being spat out for you, options are being spat out for you, you need a different perspective … someone who is more of a free thinker.”

Many experts believe it’s the people with “soft skills” — being likeable, good at communication, adaptable and so on — that will have the edge.
The creative industries contribute £84bn a year to the UK economy. That’s almost £10m an hour from music, film, art, fashion, video games, television, publishing and the like. It seems absolutely absurd that creativity and free-thinking have increasingly little room in the hamster wheel of school and exams

see also the TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on You Tube

Do schools kill creativity? Sir Ken Robinson

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