“You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink
You can take a child to school but you can’t make him think”
Education means both ” to instruct” and to “draw out potential”.
In our work we combine these aspects:
- we make learning accessible and enjoyable
- we inform and inspire, taking our models and understanding from around the globe
- we connect with students’ own experience and understanding, to draw out and develop their potential and foster confidence in their skills and abilities
Our approach is very flexible, with each project individually tailored to the setting and participants. The performances, workshops and residencies we lead can be specifically targeted for the National Curriculum or be more holistic: cross curriculum, cross cultural, multi dimensional and mixed media. We work with all ages, pre-school to older adults. Most of our activities are practical and highly participative. We offer one-off workshops, intensive projects and programmed sessions over longer periods.
Some projects will be more suitable for one of us working alone; for others we work together, music and words complementing one another; on other occasions we may collaborate with other artists.
On these pages we have broken down our work into different areas and used examples of past activities, but this is intended to help you to taste the range of possibilities, rather than being a ‘list of ingredients.’
An illiterate farmer took a letter to Nasrudin Hodja.
“How do you expect me to read this?”asked the Hodja.
“Surely you can read,” cried the farmer.”You wear the turban of a learned man.”
“All right” said the Hodja, handing over the turban. “You put it on and then you can read the letter!”
As a storyteller and writer, Helen’s work on literacy starts always with the spoken word. This is partly to motivate students – to help them find a reason to want to write – and partly to help students explore both story and language aurally before they sit down to write: how do the words affect our senses and what gives the story its shape.
A – Development of story on the page, and related offshoots (storyboarding, mapping, listing ingredients (recipes) to planning, plotting, writing, redrafting a full length story or even a novel. (See ‘Frances Fisher, RIP’: click here)
B – Exploring the process of writing as a symbolic representation of sound and meaning, through looking at various scripts (eg Egyptian hieroglyphics, Mexican codices, Indian chitrakathi, shorthand)
C – Making (and writing) Picture Books.
This is both thoroughly enjoyable and immensely instructive and can be run as a one-off workshop or as an extended project with an established artist bookmaker. 2 day post SATS workshops “from story in the head to book in the hand” are a popular format for Yrs 2 and 6.
‘The craft of writing is essentially taking the familiar and illuminating it so that we see it in a new light … as for the first time’
Paul Johnson – author ‘A Book of One’s Own’
“To watch that boy go from being disruptive to totally absorbed and proud of his work proves to me that this is real education.” Parent, Great Bedouin School, 2001
Storytelling & Oracy
Helen’s storytelling workshops usually last 1 -2 hours and can be tailored to groups of all ages. Her aim is always maximum participation, but she may focus on:
- Emotional and imaginative involvement in narratives of all kinds
- Developing language skills
- Encouraging confidence to speak
- Considering purpose of speech
- Retelling of traditional tales
- Structure of story/song/poem/rhyme/riddle
- Creative improvisation and story-making
Click here for specific workshop outlines suitable for KS1 (4-7 years), KS2 (8-11 years), KS3 and 4 (12-18), for English as a Second Language (ESL) and for teachers.
Music & drumming
Rick runs workshops in drumming and rhythm. His programmes are hands-on creative music sessions that draw on a variety of musical traditions as well as his own original input.
Sessions can be tailored to curriculum requirements for KS 1-4 (click here for details) and can also be adapted for teacher training. Rick starts with clapping and speech patterns to establish a sense of rhythm and beat, moving on to using instruments and creating original material. Although the focus is on music, the use of speech and language patterns also develops literacy skills. Encouraging children to work as individuals, pairs and small groups and using games and other stimuli all helps to involve every member of the class.
Projects may also include making instruments, such as the slate marimba illustrated below. More details here.
“He taught me how to make up a rhythm and keep it going when everyone else played a different one against me” Ashley – aged 8
” … my class gained a great deal from those few days with Rick. They now have a tremendous enthusiasm for music and there is not a single child who is reluctant to perform in front of classmates. For myself as a teacher, Rick has given me a wealth of ideas – not only for music but for drama, art and maths. Above all, Rick has taught me to stand back when children are being creative, and to give each creation time to develop” Linda Hollington – teacher Brookside school, Telford
For details of sessions tailored for KS1, KS2 and 3 and for teacher training click here.
Helen offers sessions with a focus on particular periods of history for primary schools (usually KS2). She brings the period alive with her knowledge of relevant scripts, folklore and oral history as well as documented history.
Some aspects of Ancient Greece and Egypt (including source material from her British Museum publication ‘How the Olympics came to be’)
Romans – especially in Britain
Anglo-Saxons (she worked for the British Museum on their exhibition ‘Making of England – Up Until Alfred’)
For older KS2 and KS3 she concentrates on modern history, local and community influences and events, and the exploration of oral sources – see Community /Local history pages.