Meaningful Creative Learning: L perspectives

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Meaning
ful creative learning

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04


0



Meaningful Creative
Learning:
L
earners’

perspectives


Paper presented at the European Conference on Educational Research, University of Crete,
22
-
25 September 2004

Please do not quote without permission


Bob Jeffrey

The Open University

Milton Keynes

Engl
and

Email:
r.a.jeffrey@open.ac.uk

http://opencreativity.open.ac.uk

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Contents

Meaningful Creati ve Learning: The learners’ pers pecti ves

0

Contents

1

Abstract

2

Introduction

3

Meaningful Engagement

7

Joy

7

Corporeal Freedom

8

Dynamis m

8

Collective Delight

9

A
uthentic Labour

10

Resoluteness

11

Assured Engagement

12

Peak Perfect ion

13

Meaningful Experience

15

Playing with i dentity

15

Celebrating Achievement

18

Inhabiting a sense of pl ace

20

Meaningful Role

22

Co
-
partici pators

22

Collective part icipants

23

Collab
orative Participants

25

Learnicians


Pedagogic analysts and evaluators

27

Creat ive learning analysts

28

Creat ive learning Evaluators

30

Conclusion

32

References

35


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Abstract

Making learning relevant involves many aspects of teaching such as attention to

levels of
maturity, individual inclinations, emotional, physical, aesthetic and cognitive activity and
group dynamics. However, making learning relevant is n
ot only a teacher led activity for
learners make activities relevant by the identification of conn
ections with learning activities
from their experience or their imagination. They make learning meaningful. That learners are
engaged in these processes of identification of the self with knowledge and learning processes
is well documented in the literatur
e of child development and learning theory and teachers
base much of their practice on this knowledge. However, where it is celebrated by teachers,
allowed time
,

given respect and value
d,

a climate for nurturing learner creativity is
established. The Engli
sh partner’s CLASP research project identified primary school learners


understanding of creative learning and the strategies they used to enhance creative learning.

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Introduction

Creative teaching involves
:

making learning re
levant to learners and studen
ts;

enabling them
to take ow
nership of learning experiences;

the passing back of control
(Jeffrey, B. and Craft,
A. 2004)
;

and the encouragement of innovatory action
(Woods, P. 1990)
. The strategies
employed by primary teachers to achieve these ends are nu
merous. For example: using
discovery methods, orchestrating, using humour, taking the role of the student, negotiating,
(Woods, P. 1990)
;

creating critical events and ‘real’ learning, employing critical agents and
critical others, constructing firm but fle
xible structures, being child orientated,
institutionalizing

democratic procedures
(Woods, P. 1993)
;

developing autonomy, ownership
and empowerment, collaboration, co
-
operation and negotiation, confidence, motivation by
scaffolding, encouraging the taking
of roles
(Woods, P. 1995)
;

considering emotions, creating
relevant atmospheres and tones, stimulating the imagination through narratives, sharing and
creating, problematizing and developing common knowledge together, sharing puzzlement,
valuing learner kno
wledge, accepting possibility knowledge as legitimate, maintaining a
holistic curriculum, establishing workshop cultures
(Woods, P. and Jeffrey, B. 1996)
;

responding to pupils’ emotions, maintaining feelings of confidence, engaging interest,
maintaining p
upil identity, developing critical evaluations
(Jeffrey, B. and Woods, P. 1997)
;

encouraging play, developing home school links, being spontaneous, encouraging curriculum
revisiting, supporting cultural and bi
-
lingual relevance
(Woods, P. et al. 1999)
;

app
reciating
of the importance of young people’s corporeal engagement, experiential connections,
imaginative links and learner’s social interactions including collaborative and leadership
initiatives, their contributions to the teaching and learning situatio
ns and reflective evaluations
(Jeffrey, B. 2001)
;

the establishment of a dynamic, appreciative, captivating, caring school
ethos,
prioritizing

involvement, holism, inspiration and excitement, integrating the curriculum
through the environment, establishing

a composite curriculum, willingness to change the
temperature, developing network learning, establishing authenticity through active learning,
generating positive feelings, encouraging the transformation of knowledge by learners and
learning co
-
operativel
y, developing a supportive community culture for creative teaching and
learning
(Jeffrey, B. and Woods, P. 2003)
;

being explicit about learning objectives, engaging
interest through the use of media narratives, humour and role play, problem posing,
develop
ing team identities
(Jeffrey, B. 2003
a
)
;

the construction of pedagogic open adventures,
open tasks and solution seeking
(Jeffrey, B. and Craft, A. 2003
a
)
;

encouraging a learner
inclusive environment, possibility thinking and co
-
participation
(Craft, A. and

Jeffrey, B.
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2004)
. However, we have little evidence of what this process feels like from young people’s
perspectives.

Consequently, following this extensive research during the 1990’s we have begun to research
the effects on the young people who are the r
ecipients of this plethora
of creative teaching
strategies

A general analysis of our research in this area concludes that

the higher the relevance of teaching to children's lives, worlds, cultures and interests,
the more likelihood there is that pupils wi
ll have control of their own learning
processes. Relevance aids identification, motivation, excitement and enthusiasm.
Control, in turn, leads to ownership of the knowledge that results. If relevance, control
and ownership apply, the greater the chance of
creative learning resulting


something
new is
created;

there is significant change or ‘transformation’ in the pupil


i.e.
innovation
(Woods, P. 1999)
.

These innovatory actions are the substance of creative learning.
Indicators of the feelings
attached to

creative learning have been gained from research into critical events where real
learning and communitas are its main features
(Woods, P. 1993)
.

However,
creative learning also has
meaning for
young
learners
,

as does any kind of learning,
in terms of the
ir

experience of the
engagement

and
the
development of self and identity
.
Learning of any kind influences identities, those constructions of self that have meaning in a
social context, that define the self to the self and to others.

Personal identities re
fer to the ‘meanings attributed to the self by the actor,’ and are
‘self
-
designations and self
-
attributions brought into play during the course of
interaction’
(
Ibid.
)
. They may be consistent or inconsistent with social identities. The
self
-
concept is the
‘overarching view of oneself as a physical, social, spiritual, or moral
being’, and is ‘a kind of working compromise between idealized images and imputed
social identities’
(
Ball in Woods and Jeffrey 2002 p. 1)
.

Social identities are those identities whi
ch are imputed to people, the expectations,
characterizations and stereotypes laid upon people. We are referring to the personal identities
that the young participants
construct

in the light of their creative learning experiences.

Pollard and Filer use Bre
akwell’s
(
1986)

concept of identity
in their research of pupil career
which concerns
three key principles of individuality,
where
people strive to sustain in their
daily lives: distinctiveness and uniqueness; continuity across time and situation; self
-
este
em
and a fe
eling of personal worth

(Pollard, A. and Filer, A. 1999
, p.
20
)
. This
characterization
reflects the efforts made by young participants
in the CLASP research
to be innovative as
they crafted their work
(Jeffrey, B. 2004
b
)
,
to stri
ve to develop th
eir identity in relation to
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projects over time and the feeling of personal worth seen through
the construction of a learner
identity
.

Young people bring to school social contexts in terms of explorations, interests, talents and
personal and social resourc
es derived and shaped within a wider field of family, home and
community relationships, activities and cultural expectations
(Pollard, A. and Filer, A. 1999
,
p. 293
)
. Their ‘Pupil identity therefore is forged through those aspects of school through
which p
upils interact, work and compete
(
or not as the case may be
)

for what is valued by
their significant others; their peers, parents and teachers, as well as by pupils thems
elves
(
ibid., p.293
)
. T
hey are not passive recipients for, ‘As they move through these

successive
settings, pupils are continuously shaping and maintaining their identity and status as a pupil.
They both draw on and develop their strategic biographies
(
Ibid p.283
)
.
Pollard and Filer
described young children’s
learning career
as ‘a

continuou
s spiral’ in which identity is
seen as
a representation of the self
-
belief and self
-
confidence which learners bring to new learning
challenges and contexts.
However, they also identified an aspect of self and identity that is
concerned with:

what they
beco
me
through interaction with significant others, their experience of new
learning opportunities and their engagement with dominant social representations within
their culture.
(Pollard, A. and Filer, A. 1999
,
p
.
22

authors italics
)

It is the actual experien
ce of
becoming

that is the subject of this paper, of what meaning the
learners are assigning to their experiences and what kind of identities are evolving.
Meaning
is how the experiences are felt emotionally,
interpreted, acted upon, how they contribute to

the play

on self and
the
development of identity.

The research on which this paper draws was carried out as part of the CLASP project

(Jeffrey,
B. 2003
b
)
.

All the research site institutions had taken up the national discourse on creative
teaching and lear
ning in a formal manner although each site contained supporters of a creative
approach to teaching and learning. They had taken advantage of government and local
initiatives to support their interests and in some cases called upon the
government
funds
avai
lable for such an initiative.

The three key sites for the research were primary schools were specifically involved in
creativity projects. The first


Suburbia


was reconstructing its curriculum planning to ensure
that creative teaching and learning took

a more central role. They had planned a series of
curriculum weeks over two years in which designated curriculum co
-
coordinators

were
allocated €1000 to design a week of learning experiences focusing on their specific
curriculum area involving all the sta
ff and with many external local contributions.

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The second site was a dance project funded by specially designated government funds known
as Education Action Zones

(
EAZ
)
. These major initiatives in inner cities or areas of
deprivation focused on raising ac
hievement and one of the methods was to make use of arts
initiatives to develop individual participation, well being and confidence.
The EAZ project
funded a coordinator and dance teachers.
The CLASP project focused on two groups of Year
5 and 6 classes in

two schools in a high density urban environment


Victoria and Highways
school. The dance project lasted ten weeks in each school with a weekly half day session
organized

and led by a professional dancer and teacher.

The third site was a new school built

on reclaimed land and in an urban development near a
major river crossing


Tunnel school
-

that had put creativity at its core by appointing a
coordinator to develop the area across the school.
She had gained over £10,000 of government
funded Creative Pa
rtnership money to develop the school grounds with the involvement of the
whole school. This national £40 million programme was to encourage relations with the arts
and especially community arts projects to assist the education of students in deprived area
s.
The Tunnel school funds were

used to employ a project arts facilitator

and a sculptor over two
terms to develop the project with all the classes in the school. The school also generated two
other relevant projects during the CLASP project’s research. Th
e first involved a six week
collaborative project with one Year 4 class and an artist

specializing

in Sounds in the
E
nvironment and the
second was the
continuation of a four year pro
ject with the National
Theatre which, a
t the time of the CLASP project
,

a
Year 5 class was

involved in a ten week
project investigating the Marlow play of Faustus. A musician/actor/educator carried out
weekly workshops at the school over two terms for half a day a week and the final week
consisted a presentation of a short play
at a local arts centre as well as a visit to the National
Theatre to see a public performance of the play. The class tied the experience to a class
project on the Tudors.

These teacher
s

created contexts which were relevant to learners, allowed a considerab
le
amount of ownership and control and valued innovation
. This

ensured
a meaningful
engagement that was not strategic or instrumental but intense and related closely to the
developing
identities and interests of the young participants. The meaningfulness o
r value
attached to the experiences were seen through focusing on the quality of their engagement, the
relevance to the
experience of developing

their self and identity and the construction of their
status as pedagogic participants.

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Meaningful Engagement


The meaningfulness of the
learning experience
s of the young participants in this research

was
a visceral one in which the emotions
were
engaged.
The engagements of the young
participants in this research exhibited a
joy from the practice and
a commitment t
o a form of
labour
that was authentic in that it was

relevant to their interests
at hand
(Pollard, A. 1987)

and to their desires.
This was exhibited
in a
variety of activities including:

the
construction of
large geo
-
domes;

the making and marketing

of pizz
as;

designing adventure playgrounds
in a
design and technology week;

work on the moral aspects of temptation th
rough the Faustus
drama project;

the design and construction of seating for a school playground and the design
of 3D Maths games for the same pla
yground and the exploration of sounds in the
environment.
The dance project provides one example of how
creative learning
produced both
joy and authentic labour.

Joy

Throughout the dance course there were moments and periods where the young participants
e
xuded a joy of movement and expression. They were experimenting with their bodies, often
concentrating intently, immersing themselves in the process of improving their delivery and
allowing the exercise to envelop them in a world of corporeal expression.

The children came and sat in a circle quietly. On their feet they then began a familiar
introduction to some dynamic music. The dance teacher asks for stillness at certain
points in the programme and she gets it. They then start the programme again, should
er
rolling, on their toes, reaching up. She asks for no flabby stomachs. They swing down
freely and back and balance on their toes. They all try hard with no smiles but lots of
effort
(
FN
-
5/02/2004
)
.

T
he classes on this project were multi
-
ethnic groups fro
m an inner city suburb at the junction
of two arterial roads where traffic thundered along day and night but where the schools
worked hard to provide a broad educational experience for their urban inhabitants. Skill and
status at football and assertive beh
aviour was apparent in the playgrounds alongside many
individual moments of frustration and anxiety. It was not an environment where the dance
teachers and those from the school imagined that the introduction of a

dance programme
would be easy especially i
n the class that had
75% boys. However, apart from some initial
resistance from a very few participants at the thought of doing dance and the very occasional
lack of effort from some participants who were dealing with other problems at the time, the
manife
station of pleasure at many moments during the course was plain to see. The dance
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teachers had prepared a very detailed programme intended to build confidence, encourage risk
taking and to experience the delight of disciplined expression.

It can be reward
ing to see people enjoying moving and getting something very positive
out of it, and that can be enough, but there is also the potential knock on effect it can
have for the rest of their lives. I get
great pleasure from seeing that

(
Dance teache
r
)
.

The par
ticipants’ joy was experienced as a corporeal dynamism and collective delight.

Corporeal Freedom

Although the participants were being guided through an exploration of physical possibilities
and compositions orchestrated by the dance teachers there was a f
eeling that ‘you can do real
body movement dancing, you can really free your body. You feel you’re having a good time
and stuff’
(
Jordon

-

V
)
. They were freed from being a pupil, free to ‘Be outrageous and
working with partners and friends without the tea
cher putting you in a group and at the same
time you never had to be left out’
(
Abibola

-

V
)
. They experienced and celebrated a physical
freedom from within, ‘I’ve learnt about how you can free your body when you put your arms
out and stretch your finger t
ips’
(
Kalvin

-

V
)
, ‘a kind of
floating. We had to do it in order
,

so
we were turning round like we were floating’
(
Victoria
)
. They relished the opportunities to
‘experiment with your body, to do things that you’ve never done before


(
Yan
-

V
)
. These
freedom
s led to avenues for emotional expression with peers, ‘I like doing different shapes
because if you’re angry with someone but you don’t want to express it in a way that’s
obvious, you can express it differently
(
Lottie
-

V
)

and for oneself, ‘letting yoursel
f go out,
like if you’re angry you can just do it and let out how you’re feeling inside’
(
Shimona
-

V
)
, ‘I
like it because if you’re angry all you have to do is put your anger out, through dancing’
(
Sheera
-

V
)
.

This freedom also involved taking the body ou
t of the self, ‘I really liked it because it’s like
you’re the actual planet or the sun or if you’re the earth you are going round the sun, it’s like
you’re the actual planet’
(
Ash
-

V
)
,


You actually felt like a planet. I asked myself ‘where shall I go nex
t in the solar
system’. It was exciting an inter
-
action between people and planets, all of us wer
e
turning into each other
(
Iss
-

V
)
.

Dynamism

The pleasure gained from freeing the body was accompanied by a dynamism in which all the
gestures, turns, leaps, s
huffles, strides, waves, stretches, touches and swirls were dynamic
movements generating taughtness, strength and flowing expressions. They were vigorous, ‘I
think I enjoyed the creation most because I like learning about different cultures in history. I
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l
iked the spider and doing the wings and the cutting action,
(
Iss
-

V
)
, ‘I enjoyed it when we ran
into our comets and then ran out because I like running a lot and I like making actions
(
Kalvin
)
, ‘When you run about you’re active and you release your energy’

(
Yan
-

V
)
. There
was a visceral feel to it that the teachers exploited,

I think this gets to the nub of the whole project. It’s something we all know, you feel it
in your gut, you know that it works but how do you prove it. I would just say I just
know tha
t the power of dance, the power of the arts is s
omething about being expressive

(
Dance Teacher
)
.

The dynamism was both focused and enjoyable, ‘You’d say it’s really fun and you would
enjoy yourself, it’s quite serious and you have to use a lot of

imaginati
on’
(
Nicholas

-

H
)
. It
led to
anticipatory excitement as the participants relish
ed

the joy of corporeal expression,
‘When I wake up I look forward to the leaping, flash jumping, swift turn and scrunch rolls’,
(
Joe

-
H
)
. The chance to repeat and improve expr
essions, gestures and sequences week after
week was also savoured,

Michael walks round the hall to another spot and the children’s eyes follow and they
take a new position facing him occasionally swinging an arm or two. They march
towards an imaginary ladd
er and begin to climb it anticipating the next movement. They
are slightly ahead of the instructions from Michael as they recall the next movement in
the composition. There is not a word spoken,
(
Field Note 17/10/03
)
.

A regular opening session, for one tea
cher, was gathering
the young participants
in a circle
and
asking
each person in

turn
to compose

a movement which they all had to copy.

One boy does the splits and there are cries of ooh and laughter. The teacher says ‘just
stretch. They use noises where
appropr
iate but these are not overdone;

they go with the
movement. The teacher accepts them. They wait anticipating the next composition with
smiles and they all put in extra effort each time,
(
Field Note 5/02/04
)

Collective Delight

The corpore
al freedom a
nd the dynamism were
complimented by an atmosphere of collective
delight in which they perform
ed

similar movements and share
d

the same space and use
d

it
to
gether. A collective delight was
experienced when working alone,

The teacher slowly starts up the mus
ic and they stand and practise some of the swaying
arm movements. There are some smiles at a pause and one child puts a friendly hand in
friends arm. They shake their heads and shoulders with smiles and eyes glistening,
(
Field Note 25/2/04
)

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a
nd when workin
g with others.

It makes it funny when you put your ideas together. Once when N. and I and I were
together trying to do a forward slash and N. was doing a cartwheel and I. couldn’t do a
hand stand a
nd kept on messing up the dance;
it made it funnier. It’s g
ood because at
the end you feel happy about the dance and you feel like you want to show it to people
and you’re happy about it
(
Marianne

-

V
)
. Look at this picture, she’s trying to get her
leg there but she can’t do it so she’s having a laugh because she’
s happy. Its great
practicing

the dancing and having a laugh about it
(
Ellie
-

V
)
.

Al
ongside collective delight was

collective exhilaration:

In the introduction they stretch to the music and smile and laugh as their arms go in
different directions. They pe
rform a canon movement following the last person round
the circle. Each person then decides on a movement and they all have to copy it. These
are all very innovative and the children seem to enjoy them. They then do their standing
still sequence to music w
ith the teacher at the front of the hall. All concentrate, trying
hard and extending every movement to its fullest extent with slight

smiles indicating their increasing confidence but with their eyes still on the teacher and
they are very still at the end

(
FN
-
9/03/2004
)

At the sam
e time working together involved

dynamic encount
ers which were

sharp, intensive,

risky and joyous.

In groups of four in a circle they begin to build their fists on top of one another. They
discuss who is to go first and then enjo
y the sensation of the explosion after the
construction as they throw their fists into the air, smiling and laughing and allowing
their bodies to fly away. They then make a ladder of their heads placing them on top of
each other, ear to ear, all facing the

same direction. They laugh again as the hall
becomes full of crises, falls, giggles, screams, shouts and chattering,
(
Field note
17/10/03
)

The joy of dance education was
apparent qu
ickly because the experience was
relevant to the
participants’ interests a
t hand
(Pollard, S. 1985)
, relevant to their desire to explore and
develop their bodies, relevant to their enjoyment of dramatic activity, relevant to their delight
of collective experience and relevant to the value they place on being innovative and creat
ive.

Authentic Labour

The participants
also
toiled and laboured to improve and perfect their corporeal expressions as
authentic labour
(Hochschild, A. R. 1983)

a labour that was

imbued with integrity. It
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expressed

t
heir determination to produce expression
s of quality and value
,

similar to the
Aristolean notion of
arête
, the
moral
goodness contained within a craft
(Macintyre, A. 1985)
.
They
were
‘Getting to know themselves physically. It’s about how you engage with yourself’
(
Dance teacher
)


They work hard
to extend every movement to its fullest extent with slight smiles
indicating their increasing confidence but with their eyes still on the teacher and they
are very still at the end
(
FN
-

9/03/04
)
.

Their resoluteness inspired confidence and led

to peak perf
ection.

Resoluteness

The participants worked purposefully, persistently and with
determination. They

revise
a previously learnt sequence. They all try to keep in time with the beat of the music,
taking it seriously, stretching and creating straight limbs,
lines and sharp movements.
There are hardly any comments.
(
FN
-

25/02/04
)

Their concentration was, in these situations, steadfast and single minded,

The children enter the room quietly and take off their shoes. They begin a warm
up
where

they spin round in
a controlled fashion and then bend at the knees and up on their
toes. They are asked to pretend that they have sticky feet and to find it difficult to

get them off the floor. There is no talking, no looking at each other, only at the dance
teacher who is
expressive using ideas,
silent
mouth
ing

and voice
she
ask
s

the
participants to demonstrate being open and then closed like a spring. They march
around the room with their hands by their sides to the music moving from low to high.
Nobody smiles, they are ve
ry focused
(
FN
-
17/10/2003
)
.

Taxing their bodies was arduous, strenuous and exacting;

You have to keep on
practicing

the same thing

and you start to think, ‘do I

have to keep
your arms up for a long time in a difficult shape. It starts to get hard keeping t
hat shape
(
Lottie
)
. You have to keep your arms in the air and you’re dying to get them down and
you’re aching and feel you can’t do anymore
(
Corin
)
. It’s all the same basically, you
start to strain when you are bending down and he says try and hold it for
a bit longer
(
Carl
)
. What happens with me is after two times of stretching and opening and closing
,

my legs ache and the teacher keeps pushing us until our legs feel all floppy
(
Nichel

-

V
)
.
It was someti
mes uncomfortable and painful,
You get really stuffy

inside you, your face
starts to get really hot, your heart starts to beat faster and if you have to do a pose for a
long time your muscles start to ache
(
Marianne

-

V
)
.


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However, they were not averse to arduous activity for some of the joy comes from the
effort,
‘I don’t mind being pushed. Sometimes you have to put a lot of effort into things that you
haven’t done before and I think it’s really good actually’
(
Will

-
V
)
. They were, ‘trying to
show that we are capable of trying to do something hard, testing
our balancing skills. We
wanted to do our best


(
Marianne

-

V
)
. Their determination and resoluteness was rewarded by
the progress made, ‘It is tiring after the first few seconds, then you keep doing it and keep
getting used to it and suddenly it starts to
get easier so I like doing shapes, it’s a very good
way of relaxing as well
as it makes you tired


(
Corin

-

V
)
.

Assured Engagement

One of the aims of this project was to improve the confidence of some of the participants and

creating challenges was one of

the strategies.

A lot of the exploration part of the programme is about trying to move from the

familiar to the unfamiliar, from the known to the unknown. It’s about pushing the
boundaries of their physical vocabulary. It’s very easy for all of us, whet
her you’re a
trained dancer or not, to offer the first solution that comes to your mind. But by
encouraging people not to always go with that first solution may result in something
that is more inventive
(
Dance Teacher
)
.

Inventive work, creating movements
and sequences ‘makes you independent. It makes you
test your skills,
(
Nicholas

-
H
)
. Being challenged is a central element in building confidence
but the context, the process, the pace of development
was
carefully planned by the guide.

The teacher reminds
them about the ‘squashing the bug movement’ and they focus on
their leadership as they learn it and then at the floor with intense concentration. They
are asked to pretend they are foot painting and one boy emphasises his ‘cut’ with his
lips. They listen t
o instructions with fingers in mouths, hands over heads, stretching
limbs and arms folded. They split into two groups and have to carry out the sequence a
little after the first group begins. It is difficult but a challenge
(
FN
-
5/02/04
)
.

As they continue
d

to work on their dance tasks they continue
d

to invest heavily and

were

stimulated, stirred and moved:

The teacher encouraged them to keep their hands right up in the air, to squash the
tomato as they put their hand on the floor and circled round their arm.

They explored
their sequences and the walks they had composed. They anticipated the next request and
smiled as they recalled their ownership of it and they concentrated even harder to
improve it
(
FN
-
11/11/2004
)


Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


13

The development of confidence and the takin
g of
ownership by the participants was

a
mutually exclusive process

in which ownership contributed

to confidence build
ing and being
confident developed

ownership.

Ownership of the material moves beyond what I’ve taught them, because I am giving
them licen
s
e to make choices and put something of themselves into the material. One’s
hope is that their work becomes more expressive of them. You can see that reflected in
the confidence with which they perform
(
Dance Teacher
)
.

The participants also
recognize
d

the
relationship between the joy of performing and
confidence:

Its fun and when you’re actually showing your dance to other people it builds up your
confidence, it brings you out, like if you’re semi shy. Some people are shy and they
don’t want usually want to

show it in front of other people. It brings you out and you

want to enjoy yourself more and so you do it on your own, in front of people even if
you’re shy
(
Nicholas

-
H
)

The resolute perseverance and the taking of owner
ship and confidence building le
d to
peak
perfection.

Peak Perfection

The participants’ unyielding, dogged determination to achieve peak performances alongside
th
eir taking of ownership led to expressions, compositions and choreographies imbued with a
labour of integrity. They stro
ve for perf
ection and engage
d

in

critique and reflection in the process of their presentations. If they trust themselves the
movement solutions they come up with have a greater integrity. When Ozzie and his
partner showed their ledge duet, you really got the sense t
hat they were on this ledge,
because they were very concerned with staying there. I really felt that they took on
board that sense of place
(
Dance Teacher
)

The construction
of a sense of place for dance is a

major element in the representations
dancers por
tray of people and life in a space such as a hall or theatre. The authenticity of those
representations is enhanced by a peak performance having its own integrity that arises from
participants’ commitment and determination to express movements redolent of
images they
are portraying. The participants know that when ‘When you’re floppy you’re not doing much,
you’re not enjoying it, it shows that you’re not enjoying it, that you’re too tired
(
Ellie
-

V
)
.

With the peaks come the welcome troughs that constitute
d

the heightened experience.

Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
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04


14

Before they start a sequence or action they stand ready to do it as in a race, focused and
keeping the body still, while concentrating on the movement of the shoulders, legs and
arms as they carry out the exercise. Then when the

music stops they collapse with their
hands covering their faces in expressions of relief
(
FN
-
25/02/04
)
.

The whole experience was

one of contrastive engagements, of some rigorous and relentless

striving to labour, contrasted with periods
of relaxation and

reflection.

As the teacher explains something some children lie on the floor to watch the teacher,
stretching out with the next person to explore the space behind them. The teacher stands
up sharply and half of them respond sloppily and one child yawns. H
owever one boy
exhibits that latent tension in his body as he leaps quickly to a standing position and is
impatient to lead.

They consider
ed

whether

their ideas and expressions were

appro
priate and suitable as they
stro
ve for inspired and authentic represe
ntations:

Rather than just perfect jumping, rolling, balancing, dancers need to try them out,
explore them physically in different sorts of ways. You are thinking about it and doing
it, and each action reflects on the other. You perhaps think about it bef
ore you’re doing
it, while you’re doing it and you’re reflecting on it, after you’ve done it
(
Dance
Teacher
)
.

The joy of performing and the sea
rch for peak experience produced
integrity

of process.

The children are learning how to work in a circle, going i
n and out and circling round in
different directions. Their faces are serious as they have to concentrate on the beat and
the direction of turn when the circle goes round in the opposite direction. They are
learning about unity and unison in the universe.
As they
practice

their universe ‘birth
and sound’ sequence they watch the leader with a studied intent as they perform the
flash jump, the smooth roll, the scrunch role and the flame leap. Their eyes follow their
arms looking into space with slow stretched

turns. Nadine smiles as she explodes and
follows this with a
spiky

roll and a swirl
(
FN
--
21/11/03
)
.

Their peak experience has been a product of their exertion, determination and inspiration to
fulfil
l

the joy of performanc
e and in doing so they had

reach
ed a pinnacle of collective
endeavour, ‘The dance teacher claps them all at the end of the session and they all break out
into clapping themselves with heightened excitement
(
9/03/04
)
.


We have seen how relevant learning brings joy to the young participant

and how owne
rship of
the activity encouraged

authentic labour but what
was

the benefit

in terms of
self and identity
.

Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


15

Meaningful Experience

Creative learning contributed to the construc
tion and development of learner
s
’ social
identities but the young par
ticipants interpreted and shaped their personal identity.


children do not act passively in response to changing circumstances and different
social contexts, enacting ascribed roles or accommodating to structural imperatives.
Rather they respond actively
and dynamically in protecting, shaping and maintaining
their sense of self and identity as pupils
(Pollard, A. and Filer, A. 1999)
(
P.301
)

Pollard and Filer use a typology from their research to describe the way primary children
engage with and negotiate th
e structures and expectations embedded in schooling

-

conformity, anti conformity, non conformity and redefining. The last is the one that is most
apparent in creative
learning
situations.

Redefining

is associated with the same mainstream patterns of achie
vement and cultural
norms as

conformity
. However, pupils using
redefining

strategies are not so much
operating
within

norms and expectations as at the cutting edge of them. They are
pushing at the boundaries of teachers' and peers' expectation, Negotiating
, challenging
and leading their peers. This is a strategy which is only viable for pupils where their
structural position in a class is high with regard to their academic and social status
(
ibid.
P27
)

As they experienced creative learning they played

with
their identities, celebrated
achievement and enjoyed a sense of place.

Playing with identity

The creative learning contexts
of the research sites
allowed the possibility
of
redefinition

for
young participants
, a risk taking action by teachers that gave the

young participants the
chance to push the boundaries even further and challenge

and lead their peers. However, it
also

provided
young participants
with an opportunity to play

with the relationship between
self and identity.

It has made me less shy. After
doing it I am better at doing a performance and a play.
Now I get into acting and I am not shy. I am also less shy in life for example if I think
something is wrong like I don’t want to play a game, I go into a character and don’t
walk off
(
Frankie


T
)

Th
eir knowledge of character and the part interactions play in life were illuminated when the
learners took part in enacting real life situations, ‘I like people laughing when I say something
funny. I improvise to try and make it funny because they are enjoy
ing it more and because
Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


16

they’re laughing it makes you happier


(
Frankie

T
)
. The Faustus project over ten weeks
culminated in a performance at a local theatre
added to the opportunity for play
‘It makes me
happy after it because
it’s

filled up a space in m
y body and they cheered and that feels nice.
You get to understand more about each other. We worked together and sometimes we talked
together and you understand each other better’
(
Mickey


T
)
. The
situation allowed an
opportunity for reflection and redefi
nition of their
spiral identity
career
, ‘I liked it because I
can be another person because I don’t really like my own character my own self
(
Mickey


T
)
. The Faustus drama project
was a series of ten workshops over two terms concerned with
the themes in t
he play
,

such as temptation and the other aspects of drama
,

such as music,
movement, character, puppet performance, set design and drama construction. The workshops
encouraged a great deal of creative expression and interaction of a number of story plots
w
hich meant a great deal of playing of different characters.

Kate reminds them about a story that they know, Orpheus and the underworld. She then
tells them two more stories, the first is an Indian story about a princess called Sabritri ho
hast persuade an
evil kidnapper to give up her future husband and the second is the
story of
Persephone
.

The children are then divided into three groups and they have to pick a scene from their
story and show it as a tableau to represent the whole story. One person narrate
s the story
and characters come to the front occasionally and then return to their place.

One child
asks if the narrator
s can move around.


As they talk in the groups about the composition of the story their hands wave in the air
and they jump excitedly. T
hey point, call one another, take a position or pose with one
another;

they cajole, suggest wave their arms, spring, threaten in role, purloin a chair,
enjoin their bodies, wrap themselves around each other and squeal. They mimic
screams, push people into
position, watch, wait, listen, frown, persuade, experiment in
groups, compose in different groups, argue, insist, shunt, volunte
er, propose, and look
perplexed
(
FN
-

25/11/03
)
.

Play involved reflecting upon these games, ‘I wanted to do things because
it’s

e
xciting but
then afterwards I
realized

that I didn’t like it so I regretted it. Sometimes I don’t want to show
off and some activities make me seem like I am doing so


(
Frankie


T
)
.
They were
developing moral and ethical criteria for their identities thro
ugh the curriculum, ‘
Y
ou reap
what you sew. The more effort you put in to something like the
Tudor
portraits the more
pleasure and proudness you get out


(
Amandeep
-

T
)
. Their engagement with the Faustus
story brought them face to face with moral dilemmas

and it became meaningful for them.

Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


17

Lots of bad people and Mephistopheles were trying to trick him into Hell.

(
Hamish
-
T
)

No, bribe him because they made a deal. He gave up his soul so he co
uld do anything he
wanted for twenty four
years and there were jus
t a few minutes when the good angel
came and said he could still change his mind and the bad angel said, ‘
no you’ve made a
deal you can’t

(
Usha

T
)
.

He was tempted into doing what he wanted for 24 years. He
went along with it and got taken to He
ll
(
Colett
e T
)
. The emperor asked

him to come
and do his tricks and bring Helen of Troy and he brings them out and there’s a man
who’s convinced that he can’t do it and that man tries to kill him and every time he
comes to chop his head off it grows back so he doesn
’t die until his 24 years are over
(
Usha


T
)


I think it would be really tempting to have done anything you wanted
. You could
fly or
what ever, to do stuff that no human could do, but I still wouldn’t have done that
(
Reece


T
)
. I would have listened to t
he good angel and remembered how I used to be and then
handed it back after the first month
(
Usha

T
)
. I would have turned it down because it’s
not worth it because everything you’d always done wouldn’t be there any more and
you’d feel more pain. He would
be in Hell and that would be pain. Hell is really bad
.
T
hey poke you with little hot sticks make you eat cockroaches
(
Hamish


T
)
.

These experiences and analysis carried over into their writing, ‘I think
that
at this age the
more emotionally mature
childre
n

do start to reflect upon description and detail of
people’s

emotions in

their writing
(
Glyn
-
Deputy Head
-

T
)
. They identified with characters, ‘I would
have preferred to play Ferdinand than Prospero because there was more emotion in him.
When acting it’s

better to have emotions than just to be cruel and bossy
(
Zissy


T
)

Identities were played with in order to develop empathy and understanding and to develop the
art of
defense

as exemplified by role playing during the Tudor topic.

When the video has inst
alled Glyn asks for someone to take the role of a Catholic. As
the volunteer
walks
to
the front
of the class
some children call him try traitor. The
children have to think up some questions to ask him.

‘Would you fight in the war?’
‘No’.
‘Why are you in ou
r country?’ ‘Because I live here
but I do not want betray the Catholic countries’. ‘If Spain invades would you say you
are on their
side’?

‘Yes’. ‘Would you feel OK if Spain

won?’ ‘Yes’. ‘How

do you earn
money now you are confined to your home’? ‘Inside
the house’. ‘Supposing the
opposition paid you would you give up your faith’? ‘No’.
(
FN
-

3/02/04
)

Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


18

Celebrating Achievement

Achievement was a central element in developing a sense of worthwhile learning which
contributed to the development of a worthwhile l
earner. The design and construction of a
covered playground seat
,

which was actually built with the help of the young pa
rticipants by
the project art facilitator

from the girls’ designs
,

enhanced their learning identities.

I wouldn’t like hard work if it i
sn’t fun but my main rule is I like hard work if it pays off
in the end. I like it if at the end you’ve done something and you’ve worked hard towards
something and you get it, all the hard work pays off
(
Usha


T
)
.

Hard work had

t
o have its pay off otherw
ise it was not worthwhile
,

I like working hard because at the end you or someone else is going to be proud of me
and I think it’s a nice feeling to have someone say ‘that’s really nice, you tackled that
really well, you found that hard but you still did i
t’ and that someone is going to praise
you for it
(
Freya

T
)
.

The arts projects were not just about learning new knowledge creatively but about developing
the
young
participants’

identity, character and self esteem
.

I think there has been a much wider rang
e of outcomes than if I had just said, ‘now we
are going to learn about the Tudors x, y, and z’ because there was so much personal and
social development going on as well. There were children who were very quiet in class
and they really came out of their
shells. The outdoor projects were just a vehicle for that
social and personal development. Tolerance, patience, appreciating everybody’s efforts,
not comparing them, not ranking them but appreciating how everybody came together
for the performance at the
end and how everybody valued everybody’s efforts and
seeing that everybody came together to produce this performance. I think everybody
came to value everybody’s bit in the performance. If one bit had been missing I think it
would have had a disproportio
nate effect on the whole performance. There was a real
buzz for days after the performance, a real feeling of togetherness and team and I think
that partly that team work was explicitly taught
(
Glyn
-
T
)

The team work Glyn talks about is one that is imbued
with consideration for others,

I think it

s a great thing t
hat all ideas were listened to. N
o idea was dismissed out of
hand. Children adopted the idea that all ideas were good and you needed to listen to
them and if you’ve got a good idea you listen
ed

to

someone else’s idea and then you can
combine the two to make them even better. They won’t dismiss ideas out of hand now
whereas before some learners would have done so in the past. Certainly for the seat
Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


19

design project they saw that all ideas should be
valued, should be considered and paid
that respect
(
Glyn
-
T
)

Creative learning appears to be effective learning and
for young participants it is
therefore
worthwhile making an investment, ‘
My sister just went through GCSE and she had history
and apparently
she remembered what she had done in primary school. You get something out
of it at the end. It showed me if you work hard at something you get something out of it at the
end you achieve something
(
Amandeep
-

T
)
. The meaningfulness was related directly to
f
eelings of purposefulness and where personal experience and interests
were

part
of projects
,

achievement took

on more personal meaning.

These are big cats in the bush. I liked the drawing and making up big facts and it

s my
favo
u
rite topic, animals and bir
ds. I've liked animals all my life. I read loads of books
full of information. I think it is creative. The yellow and brown stripes right across the
page is quite creative. It puts me a mind of the big cats who have those
kinds

of stripes.
It
’s good that I

included

a diagram. You need a picture for the labels on t
he Tiger that
describe parts of

its body.
It is helpful to have ‘
did you know


facts because it might
inspire the
person who is reading it more.
It

makes the page more interesting to read

(
Hamish


T
)

Pupils evolving
a
sense of self, is one of the three principal components of pupil career which
they derive from school, playground and external contexts
(
Pollard and Filer 1999
)
.
Connections with personal experience
s

of family life made

school learni
ng relevant and
meaningful.

I like sewing. I am doing cross stitch at home. I am making some kneelers for the
church in cross stitch. I have been doing it for a few years. I liked doing design and
technology in year four when we made some purses. I had
a difficult design with one,
on one side and another design on the other side. It was therefore twice the amount of
sewing but I thought it was interesting. It made it challenging. It was good because I
had to think about it and work out how to do it
(
Loui

-

T
)
.

Intellectual rigour also made

learning meaningful and developed

the learners
’ identities

at the
same time.

It's a challenge. You have to keep at it. It

s something you have to finish in the time
available. You have to think about it and concentrate

on it. Science is challenging
because you have to be exact and measure. It is challenging because we have to follow
subjects and themes. When you don't understand the

words you have to follow other
Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


20

people
. When you finish it you have learnt something and
achieved your goal and when
you come back to it again you know what it means
(
Jordon


T
)
.

Achievement is not an end in itself but a phase in the desire to make future learning as
meaningful

as possible
.

It makes me want to come to school. Now we’ve done
the Tudors and the acting I want
to come to school
(
Freya


T
)
. It’s made me want to read more about the Tudors
. I
t’s
like when your reading a book and you’re at a tense bit and you want to read more. I
would like to know more about how the plague was stop
ped and how they changed
things. Why everything now is not the same. If there had not been the changes we might
still be living how they did but now we’ve got computers and we’ve got cars and
everything then they didn’t have
(
Reece

T
)
.

The third element t
hat made creative learning meaningful was the experience of belonging.

Inhabiting
a

sense of place

Their sense of place was
specifically influential in the way many of the activities made use of
the school environment,
such as the dance floor, the drama s
pace,
corridors for
exhibition
s
,

specialist art rooms, the school grounds

the presentation
s

and the ‘real’
projects
.

I am with Friedel, the sculptor and some Y
ear 1 children. They are painting poles like
telegraph polls for the
construction of
a butterfl
y and insect house. This is their
contribution to the Grounded in Colour project
-

mini beasts. First of all they roll them
along a track and stamp and clap and count to eight to set the roll going. It is a vigorous
activity ‘to gather all this energy’
(
Fri
edel


Artist
-

T
)
. As they paint the poles they
contribute ideas, ‘why don't we make a door at that end’ and analysis ‘it looks
interesting’ ‘it looks like a boat’, ‘it looks like an airplane’, ‘it looks like a ski run’, ‘it
looks like a bridge’
(
Fiel
d Note 10/03/2004
)

The Year 5 young participant’s analysis of why the school had instituted the
Grounded in
Colour
playground project was astute but it
also
indicated how a sense of place and belonging
contributed to a meaningful experience.

Because the te
achers
wanted us to have fun as well so we can’t look out of the window
and see oth
er people having fun
(
Didea
-

T
)
.
And it’s our playground and we should
choose some of the things we want for our playground. So when you go out into the
playground you can
think this part of something you helped to make. We are going to
secondary school next year and when we come back we will feel special about what we
have made and the trees that we planted are actually our own
(
Emma
-

T
)
. So we don’t
feel left out
(
Didea
-

T
)
. I think they want us to be more involved round the school and
Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


21

here the things are mostly the children’s choices so when it’s finished it’s what we want
not somebody else’s choice.
(
Abdul


T
)

Altruism contributed
to
the sense of place and belonging as

the whole school project of
improving the playground developed.

You can learn people’s ideas and you can make things for the playground
(
Sophia T
)
.

It’s a bit like you’re being an artist, you have an idea that someone else enjoys,
and
you’re

making and
helping others. We’re not just thinking about ourselves we’re
thinking about the whole school how they can learn inside it not only just play
(
Amandip


T
)

Much of the m
eaningful creative learning at Tunnel school was
centered

on real problems,
ones where

a sincere authenticity was central to the projects.

I remember when they told us we were going to make chairs and I thought,

yes sure,
another thing
adults
say you’re going to do and you never do it


(
Usha
-

T
)
.

Making a
chair or a seat is one of those
hard things you think you’ll never be able to do and
there’s loads o
f stuff you think is impossible like you
never think that when you grow
up you’d be an author, it’s one of those things that you think is never going to happen
(
Freya

T
)

The ‘real’ proj
ec
ts
,

such as designing outdoor M
aths games for younger children in the
school
,

gene
rated a sense of worth about their
self/identity ‘I have many ideas like the shapes
game and the numbers game and I just thought which would make kids happy and enjoy
themsel
ves. I thought of co
-
ordinates because I know that they will learn and enjoy
themselves’
(
Ryan


T
)
. A sense of well
-
being ensued from the activity, indicative of the
development of self esteem identified by Breakwell
(1986)
as the third principle of
indiv
iduality.

Pollard and Filer
(1999
, p.
21
)

use Berger and Berger’s description of identity as:

appropriated by the individual through a process of interaction with others. Only if an
identity is confirmed by others is it possible for that identity to be real

to the individual
holding it. In other words, identity is the product of an interplay of identification and
self
-
identification
(Berger, P. L. and Luckman, T. 1976
,

p. 73
)
.


Meaningfulness is therefore also a social phenomenon and the research highlighted

the
particular nature of that experience through the abundant co
-
participation that was central to
creative learning
(Jeffrey, B. 2004
b
)
. An example of
less than meaningful
learning identities

would be those that developed in some of the cases in the PACE

research which concluded
Meaning
ful creative learning

ECER
-
04


22

that where teaching responses to reform were most conformist it was ‘difficult to avoid the
sense of children in flight from an experience of learning that they found unsatisfying,
unmotivating and uncomfortable’
(Pollard, A. et a
l. 2000
, p.103
)
. The authors’ ‘broad
overview of the PACE data on pupils suggests that many were playing the system, were
reserved, were bored, were risk averse and were shy of engagement in learning’
(
ibid.
p. 290
)
.
Where efforts have been made by teacher
s to maintain elements of creative teaching and
learning it appears that more meanin
gful identities are constructed

through meaningful
engagement, meaningful experience and thirdly through the construction of a meaningful role.

Meaningful

Role


The roles
young participants play in teaching and learning settings are related to the social
role of the school in society and the community

and
the parts played in a primary classroom
in relations between
learners and
teachers and
between peers. Roles such as chil
d, pupil,
learner,
and participant

are socially constructed by social and institutional structures,
determined by established power positions and relations and interpreted, conformed to and
resisted and reconstructed in situation
s

within the processes of p
ower and familial relations.
In
terms of teacher
-
learner relations Pollard and Filer found that
the young participants
took
roles of conformist, anti conformist, non conformist or
redefine
r

(Pollard, A. and Filer, A.
1999)
. These and other roles such as fr
iend, collaborator,
and competitor

all contribute to the
meaningfulness
young participants
impute to their engagement and experience. Our research
showed how
the role of co
-
participator and learnician contributed meaningfulness to their
identity
as
a creat
ive learner.

Co
-
participator
s

One of the major objectives of all the projects in this research was to encourage collaboration
and they also used it as a strategy for developing innovation. However, currently the term
collaboration is ambiguous and has a n
umber of meanings. If it is possible to be specific about
its definition it could be said to lean towards group problem solving or team work to achieve
objectives. We observed a broader, more diffuse concept, that of co
-
participation
(
Reggio
)

of
which coll
aboration was a sub category.

The dance project provides an example of co
-
participation that was seen operating across the
other projects.
The dance education arena
was
an open space i
n which many collaborations
took

place but it is
was
also a place that
allow
ed

a flow of ideas, interactions and interchanges
as individuals, pairs, groups and the whole class work
ed

side by side occasionally surveying
the arena for inspiration and where examples of innovative expression
were
frequently
observed and applauded
. The dance class
was
a dancestorm of ideas and experimentations
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23

similar to a curriculum workshop approach
(Woods, P. and Jeffrey, B. 1996)
. The dancers
participated in a collective exploration of specific exercises, themes and tasks and then broke
into pa
irs and groups to work collaboratively and sometimes as a whole class. The young
participants were fabricants, manufacturing expressions, sequences and narratives in a co
-
participative
(Emilia, M. o. R. 1996)

environment. When individually innovating they
did not
work to a common expression but they di
d co
-
participate in preparing a dance

expression
centered

on a particular theme such as a shooting star or a ledge walker. When working in
pairs or groups they collaborated to fabricate a sequence or narrative

but they also worked co
-
participatively making use of other expressions around them and they also contributed to
evaluations of others compositions and to the development of class themes. They worked co
-
participatively, alongside each other and with each
other collaboratively and collegially.

Collaborations
were
are not always successful as some of the dance participants
recognized
,
‘When I was in my group I wanted to make it perfect but they kept on talking about other
stuff, we only had about 10 or 20 m
inutes and the teacher was counting quite fast, and I
wanted to get it perfect’
(
Kat
ie

-

V
)
. However, a co
-
participative

environment was a
productive climate to develop the kind of interactive relations that fabricated innovation.

After break they constru
ct a computer composition. Some children look to the teacher
for help while others focus on an imaginary audience. Partners start close
to one another
and try

it out with different levels and different connections, facing each other. The
teacher shows some

and the children are quiet while they watch each other
(
FN
-
5/02/2004
)

These relations were collective and collaborative engagements.

Collective participants


The dance sessions were mainly split into two types, collaborative group or whole class
sessions

where participants worked individually or as a whole group, either focusing on the
same expression or on individual expressions collectively.
The latter was experienced as a
collective one.

They can all see each other. It has that democratic element to i
t


and I can also see
them. So you can very quickly ascertain who is not concentrating and who is. It just
seems to focus everyone’s energy in that way, so that when they then turn to face me,
they’re ready to go through a series of things that they feel

vaguely familiar with.
Somehow it seems to set the tone quite well. And also doing their own movement
seems to set the mood in terms of being creative. You know you will be expected to
come up with something different and new, and try something out. I
try and
Meaning
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acknowledge those people that are trying something they may not have tried before
(
Dance Teacher
)

Collective fabrications were also carried out using the whole class as an advisory body and as
an innovative resource.

The teacher then asks the clas
s to compose a sequence for a group of four young
participants in the centre of the hall. They suggest: ‘go fast and high, show a turn, circle
arms and legs, work in line clicking fingers, canon along the line’. The children clap
the efforts. They suggest

‘three go high and three low, push each
other
over like
dominoes in a canon, do a low
-
high split and then reverse it, all fall over, separate from
one another, get into a row and finish sitting, make a letter p’. Last week the children
composed a sequence

of movements suggested by the teacher


high, low, turn, etc.
which she expressed. After that session Nimra suggested to the dance teacher that the
young participants should come up with ideas for each other, so the teacher included it
this week.

These co
llective interactions allowed the whole group to participate in collective innovatory
practice in which they concocted and devised new fabrications.

This practice also created ‘an appreciative ethos
(Jeffrey, B. 2001)
,

For me it’s about them coming up wit
h the unexpected. Coming up with that first
solution, the one they would
do
naturally, and then trying maybe something else. And
it’s interesting how they tend to notice those interesting and unusual things when they
see them in someone else. I remember t
hose two boys who arranged for one of them to
balance the other on his knees. You could almost feel everyone in the class
acknowledge that that was an interesting unusual thing that they’d not seen before
(
Dance Teacher
)

All the sessions had parts where gr
oups carried out demonstrations to the rest
of the class
who
acted as an audience but an informed one.

The teacher asks the class
for a comment
after each presentation. The children noted the
different levels, movements on the floor, jumps in unexpected p
laces, unexpected jumps
at the beginning from air to floor, ‘I liked the bit where their feet met the floor, when
they jumped across each other’.
One group stopped in the middle and began to argue as
they went back to their places but nobody said anything
(
FN
-
5/02/2004
)
.

These collective interactions developed an appreciation of each other’s innovative worth.

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When they’re watching others work they’ll watch each other and maybe smile or laugh
or say something or go ‘ooh that’s good’. I think it’s about ackn
owledging in each
other that they’ve done something that is interesting or humorous, or something that
provokes a positive response. You can see that in the audience and then you can see that
reflected in the performer, that they have created this thing th
at has provoked that
response
(
Dance Teacher
)
.

They used the rest of the class as a resource, ‘If you can’t think of anything real good
you can look at someone else, you just think of something and it just comes into your
head’
(
Isabelle

-

H
)
.

Collective
engagement

allowed

the opportunity to become
the recipient of appreciation
,

When people clap and say ‘it’s really good’ and ‘I like the way you did this’, and ‘we’ll
probably use some o
f that’ it makes you feel proud
(
Ray


H
)

However,

the innovative proce
ss also had

a collaborative dynamic attached to it.

Collaborative
Participants

They carried out collaborative fabrications where the participants worked in pairs or small
groups. These interactions were situations where ‘You could have rubbish, small ideas

and
you put them together to make a big one’
(
Isabelle

-
H
)
. Thei
r interactive collaborations mad
e
the role of fabricant part of the joy of performance:

Its fun and it’s good to be co
-
operative and you can talk to each other and you can make
things, share
ideas, put them together and then something good might happen so it’s
good to share ideas
(
Ikran

-

V
)
. I don’t think it’s true that working on your own will
produce better ideas. If you have good ideas maybe the other person will have good
ideas and togeth
er you’ll make them better
(
Tashi

-

V
)
.

They got emotional and intellectual support from each other as they formulated innovative
sequences:

I think team work is really good, if you didn’t work with each other you wouldn’t have
anyone to support you and te
ll you that you’re doing well and also tell you that you
have better ideas. I’m not sure about anybody else but it makes me think better when
I’m working with a group. I work better with a group
(
Will
-

V
)

The support
was
beneficial in that it assisted

the
development of a culture focused on
celebrating innovation.

They might learn something from the other person if they’re not so good. If you share
ideas you are being helpful and you are making them feel proud of themselves. You’re
Meaning
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making them happy and you

are also proud of what you have taught them
(
Maryanne

-

V
)
.

The collaborating dynamics between the participants consist
ed

of interactions where ide
as
and possibilities were
matured or cast away as obsolete.

When you’re working together you can throw that

idea away, get rid of it, or if the other
one’s got an idea and you’ve got an idea they can go together or you can use them in
different parts of the sequence. So if they think walking is not right you can spin around
to give it more action. Then you coul
d use the walking. They could spin around in the
centre and you could walk round them so you’re doing different parts of the earth and
sun
(
Lottie
-

V
)
.

Their interactive dynamism was linguistic, corporeal, emotional and physical.

They
practiced

being innov
ative
in groups
and negotiated as they acted or stood still and
looked at each other for inspiration or looked around or followed the other, chatting
with their hands as they demonstrated. During the whole class demonstration they watch
intently. They disc
uss, think, argue, volunteer, pull, push, show, experiment, point,
follow, instruct, explain, cajole, stare, look quizzical, hand demonstrate, clap, mouth,
count, explode with excitement, laugh, shift from seriousness to delight and then focus
intently wit
h eyeball engagements.

Their collaborations involve
d

‘negotiation, working with two people, and some of that
negotiation will be about

making choices’,
(
Dance Teacher
)
. In collaborative groups they
constantly negotiate
d

fabrications without rancour ‘You w
ant to go at the top of the fist pile
and at other times you want to go here and there. You just work it out between you. We just
talk and don’t shout to get our way
(
Mazie
-

V
)
. Their creativity was seen as part of the
process of interactive engagement and

not just a means to an end, ‘One person could be doing
twirls and one person could be doing jumps and back flips, you’ve got to be creative to make
the sort of moves we wanted to have
(
Issaka
-

V
)
.

They debated and argued.

How you do it is you work with
someone you know you’re going to be good with, who
has ideas similar to you but if they disagree with you, you have to start talking to each
other. Most of the time people do agree with you. Sometimes
,

if they don’t agree you
have to put different ideas t
ogether and then you make a sequence. It feels good because
then you know you’ve done something well and you haven’t just told them to do what
you wanted to do. You used their ideas as well
(
Lottie
)
.

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The interactions
were
often
more dynamic
when different

contexts were experienced
,
‘Usually
we
work with the same people and we know what they’re going to do but when
you’re with different people you can see the different way they do things
(
Maryanne
-

V
)
.

The process of fabricating an expression, sequence or n
arrative co
llectively or collaboratively
was

seen as providing more opportunities to innovate bec
a
use self reflective debates are
less
appropriate for young participants
(Wegerif, R. 2002)

I think that, at this stage, working with a partner or in a trio, i
s actually much more
effective because it allows them to debate their work as they’re going along with
another person. I think having that debate with themselves is a more sophisticated thing
to deal with, that maybe they’re not ready for it yet. It allows

them to have a debate
about choices with another real live person
(
Dance teacher
)
.

A co
-
participative culture as that provided by these dance educators
and the teachers in the
other projects was

an innovative o
ne due to the fact that both teachers and the

young
participants could draw upon the
storm of ideas and intera
ctions and gain support from it

as
well as imbibing a culture of appreciation and creativity
.


Learnicians


Pedagogic
analysts and evaluators

We have already established that young participa
nts see learning as intellectual organization
and how ‘fitness for purpose’ solutions
(Alexander, R. et al. 1992)

should be applied for
effective learning, that assessment policy and procedures should include the introduction of
graded tests
(Jeffrey, B. 2
003
a
; Jeffrey, B. and Craft, A. 2003
b
; Jeffrey, B. and Woods, P.
2003)
. We have examples of their ideal learning models, their grappling with contemporary
discourses such as school competitive league tables, their awareness of their team
responsibilities f
or school success and their ability to debate ethical issues such as inspection
and inspection roles
(Jeffrey, B. 2003
a
)
.

As they craft their learning experiences
(Jeffrey, B. 2004
b
)

and labour to make them
meaningful they build up
knowledge

of teaching a
nd learning. They develop knowledge of its

defining features, its technology and its uses. They learn how to
analyze

and evaluate it and
when given the opportunity they offer advice and are willing to become pedagogic
participants
reflecting upon teaching
and learning strategies and developing pedagogic
practices.
They are going through a process of
becoming

a learnician as well as identifying
themselves as participants in the learning process through meaningful engagement and the
effects on the self
-
identi
ty.

It was clear from many conversations with the young participants that they were able to
discuss what constituted learning.

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We discussed the difference between ‘natural’/unintentional learning


how to be untidy
and school/intentional learning: ‘You j
ust do it.’; ‘Learning at school is learning how’;
‘Natural learning is easy, this learning is also easy’; ‘It includes failure and
practice

and
thinking’; ‘It includes strategies, different skills and different ways of doing things’;
‘We need to think abo
ut what we are trying to do’; ‘We are conscious of something in
our minds’; ‘Learning is a step towards something. I am learning that you make
mistakes and then practice’; Learning involves planning like experimenting and being
briefed first’.
(
Field Note
20/5/2003
)
.

The young participants also understood the relationship between learning and achievement.
When asked if there are subjects that they liked but in which they are not so competent said, ‘I
like Literacy because of the writing. I’m not good at sci
ence but I like the experiments,
however I struggle to understand it sometimes’

(
Sophie Yr. 3
-

S
)
. ‘I don’t like writing stories.
I like bike riding and football but I am not good at them’
(
David Yr. 3
-
S
)
.

C
reative learning

analysts

Some
young participan
ts’ defined

creative learning
and evaluated it in
a discussion
with the
researcher during their
construction
of

cuboids

as part of an Aztec topic
. They
exhibited
Woods
(
1990
)

features of
re
levance,
ownership, control and innovation but
they
also included
t
he
meaningful aspects
of creative learning
for self
-
identity.


‘Becoming your own teacher, teaching yourself’; ‘Choosing the way you want to do it’;
‘Choosing is important because you choose the best way of doing it. You know yourself
better than others’;

you

can choose your own level, less challenging and more
challenging. Some of us want harder things. I am proud of not being like everyone else.
I
t belongs to you. You own it’; ‘You can do what you want to do. You achieve
something that was good’.

The you
ng participants
define
d

creative teaching and learning as ‘fun’ learning and they
see it
as effective learning, ‘Just listening and repeating is just boring. They want you to learn about
the Tudors but the current project also wants you to have fun. People

say it’s the best way to
get something into your minds is to have fun

(
Zizzi
-

T
)
. Being creative was fun if it drew on
experience and was
co
-
participative:

Alice takes an art lesson. She refers to an artist they have looked at in the past and she
gives
them each a large flower which they have to draw. As the children look at it they
discuss what they know about flowers. ‘That’s the pollen. I remember when it fell over
me, it stains the clothes’.
‘If

you put it on yourself these will come after you for th
at is
what they want’. ‘It makes a
scent, which

is what they really want’. ‘My mum’s friend
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29

owns a gallery and we threw flowers in a pond. I have seen giant daises in my
neighbour’s garden’. ‘Creativity stands for art and cooking’. ‘Flowers, trees and bush
es
can be used by people to be creative’. ‘Creativity is creating more things, poems and
stories’. Nadia says to Emmanuel ‘Why don’t you rub the pastel with your finger. I
prefer that look because the shade of the colour comes out’. He says thank you
grat
efully.’ Creativity

is my hobby’
(
Field Note


12 November 2003
)

Although it could

be stressful:

It can be sometimes because we’re making hats at the moment and we have to weave
and it’s really hard and you do something wrong and you go, ‘oh no I shouldn’t

have’
and then you have to start at the beginning and then you do it all wrong again and your
just like ‘oh I do not want to do this even though it’s creative’
(
Daisy
-
T
)
.

Creative learning involved

Trying different things, instead of sticking to one thing

you’re trying different things
you’re opening your mind, being more creative.
It lets your thoughts run wild
(
Abdul

T
)
. I
t opens up your mind, so you
’re

using the whole brain instead of half of it, you’re
not sticking to one thing
,

you’re going to the ot
her thing and it gives you better
understanding

(
Lara


T
)
.
It’s
quite easy to do, you do it at playtime when you’ve done
all your work, you just let your mind run wild
(
Daisy


T
)
.

B
eing artistic means that
you’re mind is running wild


(
Daisy


T
)
. ‘
I th
ink that C
reative Partnerships are making
us
creative because

you have to think of opening your mind like the winner
of the recent
sculpture
competition
was a bowl of fruit
in the playground
for sitting on
,
(
Lara

T
)

The
construction of a creative vocabula
ry

in the classroom
(Jeffrey, B. 2004
b
)

provided
opportunities for learners to inhabit and appropriate the discourse. It seeped into everyday
conversation just as it would in a community of artists.

I talk to a group of girls during their reading session,
Nadia, Julia and Nidha. ‘Reading
stories is about using my imagination and creativity ‘. ‘Creativity is about our texture
and creating things and sculpting’. ‘It’s mainly about art and colours and creating from
the imagination’. ‘We argue when we work toge
ther but we also put our minds together
to make a creative thing’. ‘If we were talking to younger children about reading we
would ask them for details of the character’.
(
Field Note 12/11/03
)

Even revising for a science Standard Assessment Task
was conside
red
fun if
the right kind of
engagement was
sought, ‘I think science was made fun when we were doing mind maps.
They showed us what we knew and what we’ve learned and it shows you a way to remember
things and it makes it more fun to revise’
(
Naomi


T
)
.

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Fun itself was
‘smiling’
(
Amandeep
-
T
)
, being friendly
(
Emma
-
T
)
, being co
-
operative,
(
Didier

T
)
,
he
lping one another
(
Emma

-
T
)
. It was
also a form of labour:

When you’re properly into the thing you’re making or doing, you’re concentrating and
you’re liki
ng what you’re building, you just keep on, you can’t get out of it, you’re just
stuck with the thing you’re doing, thinking what you’re doing and you’re enjoying it
because you are making more. If you weren’t concentrating you would just go ‘I don’t
want
to do this any more, I can’t be bothered’. But you can tell they’re enjoying it
because they’re concentrating.
They’re stuck into it, they can’t do something else, they
can’t start walking around; they’re building what they think
(
Anton

T
)
.

It became

mean
ingful when i
t was

a real event
,

a purposeful really worthwhile activity
,

When we were doing the cardboard seat for the playground I really did feel quite

grown
-
up because we had a dead
line and you had to say what it was going to be built
out of. All the h
ard work paid off. It was really fun to think that it’s my chair here in
the playground
,

the one I designed. It was
fun designing it and making it out of
cardboard and wood and painting it and being able to actually help
with the final
construction. I
t’s

actually fun
(
Usha
-
T
)

C
reative learning
Evaluators

They had knowledge of what it meant to be a consumer of education but due to their
experience of creative learning this was not limited to instrumental teaching and learning. ‘I
think we like to learn dif
ferent things. We’ve got different minds and we like to learn
different things’
(
Mazie

-

V
)

and how learning could be more effective,

The d
ance
project helped because the teacher did
n’t actually show us the working of the
planets
through their movement

bu
t when we use
d dance we understood what the
teacher was
telling us about it. You remember because you think of the movements and
you remember that that the earth goes round slowly
(
Victoria

-
V
)
.

They were sensitive to
the necessity for curriculum and peda
gogic
balance,

a recom
mendation
of the PACE project
(Pollard, A. et al. 2000)

and the QCA literature
(Lord, P. and J, H. 2000)

survey o
f pupil perspectives
,

It’s good because it ain’t the teacher telling you what to do; you’re making up your own
movements
and dances. It gets kind of boring if the teacher is always telling you what to
do. It makes you independent. It’s good to make up your own dance although
sometimes it’s good for the teacher to tell you what to do. That can be fun too
(
Ronnie
-

V
)

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31

Their aw
areness of
teaching objectives

enhanced their role of evaluator
, ‘
The teacher is
working very hard at trying to get us get down to business. They are trying their hardest to
make sure we do it in the time he’s got so that when we do the dance we will have
r
emembered it by heart’
(
Mazie

V
)

and they used this knowledge to evaluate teaching
strategies
,

The teacher shows us in a very slow way and if it looks like we’re a bit confused then
they do it again, and they make sure we get it right rather than just si
tting there and
doing nothing
(
Lottie

-

V
)
. I think the teacher is strict, which is good because when
people are strict they get you to work faster and you get more into it
(
Carl
)
. What I like
about the dance teacher is that they repeat things for about th
ree seconds and then move
on to something new
(
Corin

-

V
)
. What I like about the teacher is that they don’t give up
when people can’t do it, either they go over there and help or they get someone who
knows how to do it to help
(
Mazie

-

V
)
.

and they used
their

evaluat
i
ons

to
make recommendations
, ‘I don’t think the teacher should
have had a go at her like that. I would have asked them why they had done it wrong and not
just shouted at her straight away. The teacher didn’t know whether she was hurt or somet
hing’
(
Will
)
. Their advice is steeped in knowledge of teaching and learning,

I would break it up a bit sometimes. I would make them work by themselves to help
them when they were going to go up stage and they had to be independent. I would also
like them
to go out and have the courage to do something by themselves and use their
ideas as well using other peoples. But I would also like them to be able to work with
other people
(
Lottie

-

V
)
.

They were able to give advice as to how to transfer the experience o
f dance to other domains.

When you’re writing the story in English you could use your body to explain it,
showing the story instead of writing it. You could use dance to show what it used to be
like in olden times and how they felt, and how they used to d
ance, or you could
compare theirs with modern dance
(
Opie

-

V
)
. You could show how they felt in school
in the Victorian times or how they worked for money as an orphan. You would show
them crowded in a corner and thinking about things that are going to hap
pen later in
life. You can imagine you are them and you can express yourself like them. You could
do a scrunch roll, showing that you are sad and you just want to be in one corner’
(
Sheera

-

V
)
.

The young participants
used all their inventiveness to explai
n how to use dance in maths,

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You could pretend to be numbers and dance
something like a sum. Some one c
ould lie
down on the floor; some one could curl his self or her self. Some one could be on top of
someone. Somebody should be the add

sign
. And you would

get more interested in the
subject
(
Jordan

-

V
)
,


and other areas of the curriculum.

This might sound a bit silly, but sometimes in literacy you
could
dance the stories and in
geography, you could be the plain going up and down, or you could do the splas
h of
water or a tidal wave or something. I think singing and dance could help you do the
rhythm. You’d learn spelling through the shape of the letter
-

Mrs D, Mrs I.
(
Gemma

-

V
)
.

A sample of
some
Year 6 learners evaluated national assessment procedures and

concluded
that, in general, they were mostly unruffled by national tests but they recommended
that
other
forms of assessments
should be
used, f
or

example,
communicative competencies,
collaborative qualities and management of knowledge, e.g.: individual pr
oject folders.

The third of Breakwell’s
(
1986
)

principles for individuality is
the self esteem
and feeling of
personal worth they
develop in the community they inhabit.
Within educational institutions
this will more often than not be bounded by their acade
mic and social status

(
Pollard and
Filer
)
. However, we have shown that young participants develop
considerable
knowledge of
the methodology of teaching and l
earning, the pedagogy. They were
aware of the techniques
and strategies of tea
ching and learning an
d they were
able to make contributions to the
understanding of the experience of learning and to evaluate those experiences.

Conclusion

Ensuring that creative learning was meaningful meant ensur
ing that young participants took

part in an engagement with l
earning that generated joy and opportunities for authentic labour.
It meant ensuring that their experiences
were meaningful in terms of their self
-
identity
characterized by identity play, a sense of achievement and of place and belonging. La
stly, it
meant
the taking on
a meaningful role as a learnician
. This was
developed through co
-
participation and acting as analysts and evaluators of creative learning.

Creative learning assists the development of a meaningful learning identity in cont
rast to
those who e
xperienced
more constrained and conforming teaching programmes, ‘The children
we interviewed over the six
-
year period were consistently pragmatic and instrumental about
their schooling and poorly informed and non reflexive about their learning.
(Pollard, A
. et al.
2000)
(
p.290
)
. Those identities reflect a career path in which home, playground and school
play an integral part but they also reflect the young participants agency in
redefining

(Pollard,
Meaning
ful creative learning

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33

A. and Filer, A. 1999)

their situation and personal identit
y. The meaningfulness for them is
one that involves a visceral

experience
, a reflective personal one concerned with self
-
identity
and one that gives them an opportunity to take up a
social
role as learnician alongside that of
teacher/pedagog
.

There are two

issues here. Firstly, as Pollard and Triggs
(2000)

argue,
development of
knowledge,
learning skills and self confidence of a learner is built on the entire accumulation
of a child's previous experiences. Each of these
characteristics is
subtle and multi
-
faceted,
requiring empathy, understanding and judgment from teachers. The child in the classroom is
working through a pupil career, is developing physically as well as personally, is engaged in a
process of
becoming
. While this is much less tangible to a
ssess than
standardized

scores, it is
no less important. Indeed, the reality is that these two major sets of factors interact together
to produce both educational and personal outcomes.
Pollard and Triggs
(
ibid.
)

view this
suggests a need for balance. Su
stained attention to curricular instruction should be
complemented by a provision for the development of pupils learning skills and self
confidence
(
ibid: p.305
)

The second issue is concerned with the incorporation of the role of
learnician expertise
into
the pedagogic process. This
was not wholly called upon by the teachers
in this research
in any
significant way. Their ideas and contributions were welcomed and in some cases they were
acted upon and incorporated into the programme.
However, in many
cases t
his was carried
out in such a way as to neuter their participation, for example, ideas, suggestions and
observations by the young participants were frequently accepted without question and without
using them as an opportunity to develop further discussion.

By acceptance we mean that they
were given praise for contributing but the value of the contributions were rarely examined by
their peers nor were they incorporated into teaching programmes seriously
.
The aim of
encouraging participation for the sake of t
he child’s self esteem
was achieved
but
the
contributions themselves
were mainly allowed
to wither away.
They were rarely asked for any
pedagogic evaluation.

This appears to be the case across the research literature
in the UK if the last QCA review of
pu
blished literature on research into learner’s perspectives on the National Curriculum is
accurate. Pupil’s own suggestions for effective curriculum delivery are less researched: such
recommendations are emphasized more by researcher influence than the
pupi
l voice

itself.
(
Lord 2003, p1
)
. Themes such as coherence, breadth and balance and manageability remain
little researched from pupil’s perspectives.
(
Lord 2003, p1
)
. However,
it should be noted that
a
major project from the ESRC
, Teaching and Learning P
rog
ramme
has published a range of
Meaning
ful creative learning

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34

handbooks about
Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning
,
(Rudduck, J. et al. 2004)
.
Alth
ough there are some case studies from primary schools
within this project,
this is still an
under
-
researched area and one that is r
elatively unknown in practice in primary schools.

Woods
(
1995)

sees engagement in learning for primary learners as child meaningful,
suggesting that pupils make sense of learning on their own terms, based on their interests. He
argues that learning takes

place best when a mutually shared understanding between teachers
and pupils is built through negotiative discussion. Central to meaningful learning is a sharing
by teachers of the processes of exploring knowledge and the institution of pedagogy relevant
t
o their experiences and interests.

It is this area of research that needs to be filled out with
examples and analysis fro
m current and future research, if there is to be any development of a
learner inclusive
(Jeffrey, B. and Craft, A. 2003
a
)
approach in s
chools.


Meaning
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