Social Tapestries
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Kingswood Social Tapestries
Proboscis Leads: Giles Lane & Sarah Thelwall
Kingswood Leads: Loz Wilson & Jo Sheldon
Funding: Arts Council England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Creative Partnerships Hull

The Kingswood School project developed a framework for working with students to gather, represent, understand and share the different forms of knowledge held in within the community & geographic area in which the school is based. The project was designed to bridge between school subjects e.g. mixing geography lessons where data is collected with maths lessons where data is analysed. It sought to create a process whereby students described to Proboscis as "not interested in learning" would be able to gather and collect the basic information which they studied in class – 'owning' the process for themselves.

This experiment set out to create a model of creative engagement that can continue to be employed by the students and staff beyond the project itself through the continued use of tools and activities developed in the course of the project. Students of Year 7 would take the process with them throughout their school career, passing on these new processes themselves to teachers as they progressed through the school system.

Through working with the Year 7 teachers at Kingswood School Proboscis devised a process and a toolkit for the 240 students to use throughout the academic year and across eight subjects. The combination of bodystorming experiences for staff members and a toolkit for staff to use with students was designed to enable Proboscis to create interventions for and with staff and students that would develop new teaching and learning methods for the school.

With the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation a social research programme was designed by Zoe Sujon of the London School of Economics Media & Communications dept to evaluate the uses of these research methods and areas of experimentation in this educational environment.

Proboscis was keen to explore the question of the kinds of knowledge that students would be interested in in their local community and how this connects to the ways they inhabit their local spaces. We felt that to explore this in depth a highly structured project would be needed and a school setting would be an excellent way of achieving this structure and regular development of the work.

Kingswood School were interested in the methodologies that Proboscis suggested as they were complementary to the teaching methods employed with Year 7 students (an extension of the primary school structure where all subjects are taught by a single class teacher) and fitted well with the physical environment for these students (a section of the school separate from the rest of the students& classrooms). Through the intermediary of the local Creative Partnerships office in Hull, Proboscis was invited to develop a project in partnership with the school.

Zoe Sujon's social research was designed to complement the work that she undertook on Urban Tapestries and provide excellent comparison for the uses of these approaches with students.

Our specific goals were:

  • to devise a series of creative interventions into the school's curriculum that provide the students and teachers with a framework for gathering, representing, understanding and sharing different forms of knowledge that are located within the community. Proboscis collaborated with the Kingswood School staff to devise a series of activities and student projects that will enable students to capture, appreciate, play with and share knowledge about their local environment and community.
  • to encourage the students to map their environment and community in ways which privilege their own understandings of community and place and to pursue their own lines of research.
  • to work with students and the staff to find appropriate uses of new technologies to capture, organise and share these maps of knowledge, and through the process of sharing these maps give the students new perspectives on the value of learning and what constitutes 'knowledge'.
  • to demonstrate how these practices can have a positive impact on the way students capture what they know or discover about their own environment and use that knowledge to make the teaching of subjects in the school curriculum directly relevant to their everyday experience, not just abstract tasks they are required to do by custom and law.
  • evaluate the project outcomes and methodologies through an ethnography-based approach.

Proboscis created a set of tools and activities designed to be incorporated into the curriculum of the Year 7 students including:

  • Local maps with a radius of 2km centred on the school at 1:1500 scale (courtesy of the Ordnance Survey), printed as a 5 foot square table top map to be kept in the communal area between the eight year 7 classrooms, and as a 10 foot square floor map for group/class bodystorming activities. The smaller map was intended to be added to by the students throughout the year, gradually becoming encrusted with object as students gathered material through the year.
  • Field notebooks and personal maps for individual students to collect and annotate the local area. The field notebooks were designed so that the format was the same for each but the tasks varied according to the subject (e.g. English, Geography, Maths, History etc) and used Proboscis' DIFFUSION eBook format. In this way pupils could make annotations in class, in the field or at home and later transfer the data to either the large map or to a digital version held on Urban Tapestries.
  • A special web interface to Urban Tapestries specifically designed for the Kingswood students. Over time the system would help reveal the patterns and associations built up by the layers of knowledge, experiences and information contributed by the students.
  • Summaries of each class' work for each subject would be made collaboratively by students in each class and printed as an A1 poster. The posters were to be used by the school to distribute within the local community as part of its outreach activities.

The toolkit and working methods were completed by Proboscis in August 2004 (with additional improvements continuing through the Autumn) however the project with Kingswood School was delayed, changed and finally abandoned in January 2005 due to changes of priorities by Kingswood School and Creative Partnerships Hull. Proboscis was unable to implement the project as agreed by the partners in July 2004 with the result that very few of the goals were achieved and there were no lasting outcomes for Kingswood School or Creative Partnerships Hull.

Proboscis remains keen to utilise the framework and toolkit in an educational environment and therefore completed the design of these elements. Proboscis is currently discussing opportunities with a primary school in North East London for adapting the project to suit a primary school setting.

Evaluation Summary
Proboscis is still evaluating the project. Summary to follow.

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Last updated October 25, 2006 | sitemap | Join Mailing List