If you have a post-graduate degree in either art and design or music, are interested in teaching and have dyslexia, dyspraxia, Aspergers or ADHD, then you could apply to be one of our Creative Mentors.The programme runs over four academic terms starting in September. During the first term you will be gaining class-room experience at one of our provider schools. You will also attend lectures that focus on the types of difficulties (academic and emotional) that students with learning differences experience and the strategies that can be employed to help students overcome them. In the subsequent three terms, you will be based in the art and design or music departments in one of our schools where you will focus on encouraging and helping students with learning differences to gain new skills and confidence in these areas. Every half-term you will attend a progress meeting for which you will be expected to prepare a short report. You will:
- Learn new skills
- Make new contacts
- Experience working in Secondary schools
- Raise awareness among staff who teach creative subjects about the implications of working with young people who process information differently.
- Introduce them to specialist teaching methods that help dyslexic and dyspraxic children to engage and learn.
- Raise awareness about the possible advantages there are for dyslexic and dyspraxic people involved in the arts, precisely because they have the ability to think in unpredictable and original ways.
- Provide encouragement for dyslexic and dyspraxic children who have lost confidence in their ability, in both academic and creative subjects, because of their struggle with the school curriculum and the exam system.
- Provide role models who faced the same problems in their time at school but made their way through the system to educational and potential career success.
Recently one of our Mentors wrote: “The goal of a Creative Mentor is through attention and encouragement, to help the learner reach their potential.”
“Learning difficulties are not something to define us by, but they are a distinct advantage within the educational environment as they do have a bearing on our ability to instinctively understand and empathize. In this capacity we are able to be the learners’ mentor and advocate. Learners who may have learning difficulties, and struggle within the education system, but who have potential and talent. In many ways their ‘problem’ is that they don’t fit neatly into the current educational philosophy of ever increasing ‘excellence’. The term ‘mentor’ is derived from Homer’s The Odyssey. In this epic poem Odysseus, whilst he is away fighting the Trojan War entrusts his son, Telemachus, to his advisor, Mentor. In this tale we come to understand the Mentor’s role is to nurture, transfer knowledge, be supportive and protective. But for this to occur there needs to be reciprocal trust and understanding, and for this to happen there needs to be commitment and sympathy. The teacher must be aware, as much as possible, of the learner’s needs and able to differentiate accordingly. This relationship needs to be built on open communication. Communicating is not one-way transmission, nor is it most of the time consciously done. Humans are exploratory animals. Most of the energy has to come from the receiver, who has to be actively wanting to find out.” —Minton, D. Teaching Skills, 2005, p.94
It is always highly rewarding to help learners develop their own creative identity and is inspiring to be part of that art and design process, seeing innovative ideas surface. I have been excited by the prospect of developing an exciting creative curriculum teaching fashion and textiles that ties in with both the Creative Mentor Foundation ethos and my own – providing inclusive education for all learners. Being patient, allowing learners to work at their own pace and choose to self-direct their own learning whilst allowing learners the creative freedom to explore their ideas is fundamental in order to create an active teaching and learning environment.
Royal College of Art, 2014, 2016, 2017, Textiles
One of the reasons that I was interested in becoming a part of the Creative Mentor scheme was to be able to work with and encourage children that might find some difficulty in their education. Like a lot of people who attended school in the 70s and 80s dyslexia wasn’t on the radar in fact it wasn’t even in the vocabulary, well not in Dunblane or Callender.
My overriding memory of school boils down to my first day at a new school, McLaren High School (in Callender). I was just starting 3rd year so would have been about 14. I was sitting at the back of an English class trying to be invisible when a girl came into the class and handed the teacher a note. The teacher then turned to the class and said “Stuart McCaffer this is your two periods of remedial”. Remedial was, for those who have never encountered it, a place where all the ‘slow’ ‘thick’ ‘Joey’ ‘dunces’ were put. All I remember doing was learning to spell lists of words, which by the end of the day I had completely forgotten. Up until that point I had been a keen if not brilliant student with quite good grades but the stigma from this moment meant I no longer cared about school or my education. It took me along time to get over the chip on my shoulder and it was to be about twenty years before I would dip my toe back into the educational system.
In my first year at Edinburgh College of Art I was diagnosed as dyslexic. The help I have received from both Edinburgh (where I graduated in 2004 with a 1st ) and subsequently the Royal College has been invaluable. So when Qona first asked me if I would like to be a Creative Mentor I was only too happy to get involved. My hope is that I will be able to, in some way engage with the children and show that drawing, painting, sculpture and expressing themselves through art can be used as a gateway to the opening up of their communication with the world. Well that and spell-check.
January 2011, 2012, 2017, Sculpture