Experiential Learning by attending Events

bespecactive! make culture, make europe SEMINAR, torino, ITALY, 05.12.19

Reflection: The BeSpecACTive! Make Culture, Make Europe seminar in Torino, Italy emphasized for me the political nature of the the project. That this initiative is a left wing progressive response to alt - right conservative populism as expressed in the political rhetoric of; Matteo Salvini, Nigel Farage, Marie Le Pen and Donald Trump. The similarity between the rhetoric of these politicians is their aniti - esntalihement and anti - imigration setiment. Immigration and multiculturalism in Europe became a key topic during this event. A key insight made was that; left wing governments that accept immigration and multiculturalism as an opportunity to enrich and enliven the local culture and economy will never be able to create as solid or stable identity as those politicians that are nationalistic. A nationalistic agenda is able to make a solid unit out of many individuals that share the same culture, history, religion and nationalistic pride. By default, it is impossible to homogenize a society that is founded on the principle of multiple identities. This discussion had important implications for the national identity of Ireland on the contemporary European stage in the wake of Brexit. The seminar concluded that it was the role of the arts to facilitate cross - cultural dialogue across economic classes, in order to form stronger local communities that allowed the flourishing of democratic values. Speakers advocated a ‘top down and bottom up’ approach to cultural policy, where high level Cultural Institutes and the Ministry for Culture reached down to make meaningful connections with local communities, while local communities self organized and ‘reached up’ to write cultural policy that would directly address the creative needs of their daily life. Participating in this event emphasised for me, that my learning style is primarily social and experiential. I find it essential to balance reading with field work that takes on an ‘adventure’ where I can relate my real world experiences to the observations made in the literature.


Reflection: in this focus group between Creativity, Culture and Education and Helium Arts, C.C.E was helping the Helium Arts staff to make the link between creativity and wellbeing. Helium Arts facilitate artistic programs to young people in hospitals and community settings, while C.C.E is a UK based consultancy that promotes creative learning in the classroom. The key leaning that I took for this workshop is that the focus group can function as a experimental - participatory action research. We were set different creative tasks to explore the theme of creativity and wellbeing; through this practical exploration our findings where posted on lange mind maps and ‘data walls’ where we could trace the development of our ideas. For an experiential learner, this workshop was extremely effective because it incorporated social and visual learning through creative participatory tasks that where fun and interactive. In addition, this workshop opened up a whole new area of research and a new body of literature. Within that literature an essay entitled ‘A Five Dimensional Model’ (2008) by BIll Lucas, defined creativity in terms of; persistence, discipline, imagination, curiosity and collaboration. This was an important find, because by that time it was obvious that the BeSpecACTive! proposal was not going to go ahead. There for this workshop and the associated literature allowed me to shift topic and case study. Yet, I was till considering a deductive approach to data interpretation using imagination and social bonding as determinant variables. There for, although my case study and topic where shifting away from BeSpecACTive!, the methodology remains similar; I was still considering making a codebook; descriptions of ‘imagination’ and ‘collaboration’ that I would then look for through the data collection and analysis.

Bealtaine Festival Internship, Dublin, 01.05 - 03.06.19

Reflection: unrelated but relevant to this masters thesis was my internship with the 2019 Bealtaine Festival. Bealtaine is the cultural wing of the charity Age and Opportunity that promote creative aging and lifelong flourishing as we get older. Funded by the H.S.E and the Arts Council, Bealtaine curate a month of art and culture each May in Dublin and Nationally to celebrate creative aging. As part of this internship I conducted a series of mico - interviews with festival goers and recorded artist panels. Currently I’m in the process of transcribing the audio into text and as the images above illustrate, I have begun the process of thematic analysis using NVivo 12. However, a few challenges have arisen. One, transcribing audio to text is a long, meticulous and a potentially expensive process. I have being using the NVivo transcription service where the researcher uploads the audio to the NVivo website and the software automatically transcribes the audio. The advantages of this method is that it saves time from manually transcribing the audio oneself and that the NVivo transcript presents the text in segments that follow the audio. The major disadvantages of this method is that it is inaccurate. Many words, sentences and phrases are misinterpreted and misspelled through this automated service which is also costly. In addition there is the simple limitation of not having multiple colours for highlighting themes. All themes in the text are highlighted with the same yellow colour so when looking at all the codes together you can’t tell them apart. The advantages of this software, however, is that you can represent and explore ideas and themes visually. I have found the mind map function extremely useful to represent my thinking. Moreover, as the researcher creates new codes or nodes, these themes can be visually represented as well as their relationships to one another. In addition I have learnt the importance of data management. For every artist panel and interview that I record it is critical that I received permission from the interviewee by signing their name on a consent form. As hard copy consent forms are filed in my desk, interviews uploaded to Itunes, audio mp3s filed to my desktop, then uploaded to Google Drive (to share with the festival staff) and finally transcribed into NVivo, there must be a clear filing system where I can trance the final transcription to the raw audio. This requires a simple and clearly defined storage procedure and a consistent coding system, where anonymised names are coded in such a way that I can trace the coded name to the hardcopy consent form, through the transcript, mp3 and raw audio file. This internship has given me the opportunity to test the similar procedures and methodologies that are required during my thesis project and functions as an unofficial pilot research.