Aspirations, Dreams & Graffiti in the Playground (Part 3)

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We are delighted to post the last of three blogs on an arts education project conducted by teachers in the department. In this first post, Ben and Gail introduce their project.

Ben Van Praag & Dr Gail Forey, Department of Education, University of Bath

While painting the mural for the project, there were some challenges the students had to overcome, such as the technique of painting with spray cans, with one student pointing out “actually holding down the spray paint and it wouldn’t go on”. Overwhelmingly, the overall feedback was extremely positive, as a student stated “it just feels satisfying and feels good to do it”. The sense of pride felt by the students was visible and represented by the comment “when I come back to the school when I am older, I can still see it. I can see my word and say that is me, I did that, that is my word that is what I wanted to be.” The aesthetically pleasing, fun, inspirational artwork that represents their hopes and dreams for the future will be permanently on show for other young people in the community. The project helped the pupils think about their future, formulate initial plans and develop their own sense of identity. One pupil commented that the project had been useful because it had helped them to “actually find out what we want to be, because it’s been one year since knowing what I want to be and I didn’t want to be it and now I know what I want to be”.

This project helped students to develop their aspirations, dreams, communication skills and experience of working with those actively involved in universities through an innovative creative and alternative method. The project highlights the high aspirational goals of underrepresented groups at primary school age. These insights can be utilised to support the design and implementation of outreach activities delivered by HEIs. We sincerely hope that this project will support the development of future art-based, co-creation led research endeavours with primary school-age children that allow students from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to articulate and express their future hopes and wishes through an engaging non-traditional medium, such as spray paint. If outreach activities are designed well, are interactive and delivered by the right team, they could benefit pupils from Y4-6 to understand that their dreams are achievable. Findings from this project will help HEIs understand the aspirations of young people and help them to engage with and support students from diverse background to work towards their aspirations from a younger age.

The dark container that overshadows the playground, is now a fun, vibrant piece of artwork designed and painted by the students (with some help) that will remain a symbol of aspirations.

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