26th May 2020: PlayfulPilgrimsCREATE – An Arts in Education Story

The first doodle in my module sketchbook had to be the module name! (Seen with some fabulous books from the CCCU Augustine House Library!)

My first class after the Christmas break was in an optional module called “Meaning and Feeling in the Arts”. I chose it because the Arts are something, I have always used to express my thoughts and feelings, and it made sense to me at the time of opting for this module. Although it fell under a different programme in the Faculty of Education, and there were obvious nerves of meeting new people, I was certain this was the beginning of something special which would enhance my university experience.

Stepping into the Arts in Education realm, I was met with a strong presence of enthusiasm, kindness and support. Immediately I was welcomed with literal open arms! It felt like a warm space to be in and I felt enthralled to be able to share my joy and appreciation of the Arts with like-minded people.

As a student crossing over from the BA Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring (CCM) programme, there was always the worry that I wouldn’t have anything to bring to the class, however, it had quite the opposite. I was beginning to establish ideas where the Arts could fit into a CCM model or practice, or how the Arts could help with learning about reflection and the next steps to work on. It was challenging at times, trying to apply the subject to CCM, when it was directed towards the Arts in Education programme, but at the same time, I welcomed the idea to challenge it because I’d realised I wanted to tailor my degree towards using Art in the Helping Professions, such as Art Therapy. Having participated in Art Therapy in the past, it was something I never twigged might be something that I should pursue as a career until I began this module, thus I wanted to throw everything I could into it for the experience and the chance to potentially follow a new dream.

(Three pieces from Art Therapy pieces I am happy to share with you, from a good few years back now, and the Phoenix it seems has been a poignant symbol in my life! – Referring to my collage I began to make in Reflective Practice and Creativity, click here to see post!)

Although we ended up with a shortened and unfortunate end to the semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, it didn’t stop the Arts in Education group from meeting up on a Wednesday (then Tuesday) morning on the university’s learning platform – Blackboard.
As we edged closer to the end of the semester and begun to wrap up the module, there was discussion about developing a project for the local Pilgrims Way Primary School, whilst in lockdown. The more this was explored, the more it came to light that this could be something the Arts in Education programme could incorporate in their second year of study, thus leaving me to wonder where I may fit in. Of course, I may have thought it was silly of me to think or feel this way – that why should I be taking part when I’m not on the same programme as them? As well as feeling slightly excluded, whilst I tried to reason with my thoughts about why helping with the project could be an amazing thing for someone from CCM to get involved with! These thoughts were very quickly altered when I spoke up about this, and they were all insistent I take part, reminding me that I have become an important member of the group. I wondered how I could be an integral part to play, but as my concerns quietened, I realised what an amazing opportunity they were welcoming me to take part in, and it would be an amazing experience for me to learn more about a subject that I had begun to feel so passionate about.

The plan was to have a series of art activities, with each of us working on something different to share the unique ways of teaching within the Arts. This would be a “Family Arts Project”, soon to be named “PlayfulPilgrimsCREATE”, and with the support of our lecturer Kerry Jordan-Daus, these activities would be passed onto the school, to be released fortnightly onto the school’s website, enabling the pupils and their families to find resources and get involved with during lockdown.

Playful Pilgrims CREATE
Logo designed by Olivia

We stated that “Over an eight-week period, four arts’ sessions, with suggested tasks, will be delivered by us through [Pilgrims Way Primary School website]; any work undertaken by [the] families can be submitted [to the school’s website], as well as being recorded in ‘journals’ at home. Our commitment to total inclusivity is paramount and, therefore, we encourage your children, families and staff to use whatever materials they have to hand – at home – interpreting and completing the tasks in their own unique and creative ways.”

Along with our planned a schedule of the creative sessions: 

SESSION ONE: Spaces & Places to commence Monday 11th May 

SESSION TWO: Pick ‘n’ Mix to commence Monday 25th May 

SESSION THREE: Sounds & Patterns to commence Monday 8th June 

SESSION FOUR: Memories & Stories to commence Monday 22nd June 

Then explained that alongside these sessions, there will be a story which relates to the activity and allows everyone to have some downtime, as well as including some wellbeing activities enabling us all check in with our emotions during lockdown.

With the first session already being uploaded and a success to our own teamwork, the second session has been released on Monday 25th May, and can be accessed via the Pilgrims Way Primary School website here: Family Art Project

I’ve been able to see the amazing talent the Arts in Education students have and can see just what an asset to their chosen career paths they are going to be. In such a short space of time, a project has evolved into a variety of art activities and resources for primary school children and their families to participate in during the remainder of lockdown. 

The project has also been mentioned in the CCCU Staff Newsletter “In Touch”, (issue 159, 20 May – for any staff reading this!) which is hugely exciting for the Arts in Education programme which only started this year (2019-2020) 

I think that what this project has shown, is that even during the most difficult of times, Art can triumph and allow everyone to get stuck into an activity, no matter how big or small, easy or difficult, and that it is a subject which ultimately keeps us well. Art is powerful and can provide us all with the comfort we need, Art is all around us and we can create Art out of almost nothing. Art brings people together; Art is something we can use to express our thoughts and feelings. Art can challenge us to think about the world in a completely different and unique way.

I feel so privileged to have been able to contribute to the project but focusing on the wellbeing and have created a set of postcards for everyone to work through. It has been a massive learning curve for me and given me an insight into the career I am looking at pursuing at the end of my degree.

First set of Wellbeing Activity cards for the first activity – Spaces & Places

Knowing how valuable the Arts are to me, and witnessing how much it means to others, fulfils my heart with the knowingness that I’m heading in the right direction, and how beneficial tailoring our degrees with “optional” modules, is an asset to Canterbury Christ Church University, and will enable students to really chase their dreams!

Kerry Jordan-Daus: Module Lead
Beth: Arts in Education
Ella: Arts in Education
Ellie: Arts in Education
Erica: Counselling, Coaching and Mentoring (Student Ambassador, Peer Mentor and PAL Leader)
Georgia – Arts in Education
Millie: Arts in Education
Olivia: Arts in Education (Student Ambassador/Careers and Enterprise hub)

I just want to say a huge thank you as always to this wonderful group of people! You’ve all made me feel so welcome and taken me under your wing as part of the family, and being able to participate in something so wonderful during a crisis has been an ineffable relief for my healing. Thank you!

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