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So far onfuze has created 12 blog entries.

About loneliness in the city

Hi my name is James Murphy and I’m from Chessington Community College.

Since September 2017 a group of us in Year 10 have been working on Urban Stories with Bounce Theatre. We were given a brief that the project would be about living in a city. Out of all the topics we decided to make work about loneliness and mental health. We picked this topic because of how many people are affected by this and how important mental health is. A study shows that over 9 million people are often lonely. 9 million people is more the the population of Central London. The world health association did a report that predicts by 2020 depression will be the second biggest killer.

We decided to focus on a positive message, instead of focusing on the statistics and forms of mental health. Our piece recognises its ok not to be ok and you don’t have to hide your feelings.

Our ideas are in an exhibition which will feature an imagined city seen through the eyes of lonely people. It also includes stories devised by us. We have been able to work with artist David Lewis who has created a model box with all our ideas into an actual city! David has used different materials to pick up on our ideas about shops closing down, the struggle people face with access to housing and libraries closing. We thought that when places close, you walk down the streets and its full of empty shops it can contribute to the feelings of isolation.

We’ve also focused on individual people and characters such as ‘Faceless Bob’, they are faceless because they don’t feel important.

This will be photographed by Lauren Purser and go on exhibition at the Saatchi gallery.

I hope to make a ‘Happy Card’ as part of the exhibition to provide positive quotes and helpline numbers for anyone that feels affected by the issue. Personally,  mental health is really important to me, it affects so many people and and with some people there is such a old fashioned attitude of mental heath being kept quiet. Thankfully thats not the case anymore, people don’t judge you for mental health and it is becoming more common for most people to talk about it which is such a great thing.

Thanks to Louise & Bounce who have made this project possible for our group. It has been an amazing experience to design an a art piece about such a relevant topic to go in Saatchi gallery.

When to see our exhibition.

If have advice or numbers I can add to my happy card, please email [email protected]

James Murphy

Co creating emoji

I am three weeks in to working on Emoji, a brand new piece of theatre cocreated with Anstee Bridge.

It’s a complex project in some respects. There are a lot of challenges to meet. The young people aren’t all keen on theatre being one. One young person told me he thought the script to date  ‘was boring because it had to many words in it’.

As the person responsible for making the script, I admittedly had a fleeting notion of a mime. I am not a confident writer. I confessed this to one young person. She told me not to be scared. My writing was good, my language was just a bit ‘back in the day.’

However unsure of myself I am in writing, I am enjoying the process of cocreating the work. I started with the intention of having everyone develop the story I had mapped out. I’d been quite clever it rolled a fairytale into a social media story that went viral.  After meeting one student this was shredded up and we just changed everything. One week on, it was completely overhauled as everyone put in their ideas. It was less fairytale and more Eastenders perhaps, but I still liked it. I have had nervous moments. Trying not to crush enthusiasm but wanting to recognised an actual fire going off in the middle of it probably was beyond the limits of my budget. Accepting I am old has been another thing – am I actually cool enough to write this with them?

I have tied my brain up in loops trying to task myself with working out how to tell this story, which is part mine and part theirs. It’s made particularly challenging when they work in four groups across four days. I am the pin holding the all together to encourage them to engage with making a performance and becoming a community.

In some respects it’s very liberating precisely because I don’t consider myself a writer. I am simply there to facilitate a story that emerges out of giving the young people a place to engage with art, an opportunity for a dialogue about their needs and interests. I have learnt about trap queens, what being basic means and that you can still use your phone without credit in Mcdonalds if you have Wifi. I have also learnt a lot about the pressures young people feel under and the mental health needs that emerge from them.

In letting go of my story, it has become their story and will end up as our story. I’m not sure where it’ll end up and if I will like it more than my original. Yet this is the joy behind fancy words like co-creation. It’s sharing a voice with young people that ironically don’t like lots of words. In doing so they are becoming a small and very loud company. Some are going to market the show because they want to set up their own business. Some are going to help write it. Others want to cast it, some want to direct.

Artistically, we are really challenged to learn about them, adapt to them and ensure this work supports their journey at Anstee Bridge. It’s a lovely, messy, scary process that means giving up artistic control and adapting to whatever happens next. In doing that, I truly believe I/we become better artists – when we sometimes step away and contemplate ourselves as that.

We are however 11 pages in. The journey has begun.

You can come see where we end up. Find out more here.

Louise

Essential skills and messages of hope

In some of my previous blogs, I have written about the skills that I believe are essential to survival. My views are based on research that I’ve studied, the experiences that I’ve had in my teaching and also my personal experiences of adversity and learning. Broadly speaking, I believe that the most important characteristics in success are grit, creativity and intelligence.

The order I write these is no accident. In order to solve problems with intelligence, we first need to be able to create ideas about how best to solve them. In order to be able to create ideas, we need to have faith that our ideas are worth something. Thus, grit facilitates creativity and creativity in turn, creates intelligence.

It’s easy to see, therefore, how a problem with one of these skills has an inevitable impact upon the others. Individuals who grow in an environment that nurtures shame, for example, are five times as likely to struggle to work creatively and as a result, have a limited opportunity to develop their intelligence. In order to improve things for them, the question becomes how we undo that damage.

Over the coming months, Bounce will be using many of its projects to research just this. We will also be offering resources for artists and general practitioners to try out and offer feedback. We will also be carrying out projects and measuring their impact so we can find something that works for all of us. In the meantime, however, this is what we know.

Time

An interesting outcome from research in education is that time spent 1:1 between pupils and their teacher creates impact on learning, wellbeing and creativity. This was born out for me when I taught a class including a student who struggled with anxiety. We used to sit during assemblies and paint pictures together – no real “learning” involved.  During the time we worked together, we used to talk idly about how her weeks had been, changing attitudes and gaining knowledge as each session passed. What was remarkable was that her achievement that year doubled that of the year before.

it is speculated that the close relationship that a teacher has with their classes is the element that makes the difference and this is something that we can monopolise as parents, practitioners and educators.

Experience

Ever heard the expression that there’s no teacher like experience?

Experience is something that has the most profound impact on all of our learning. As Maya Angelou said, “You can forget what someone said, you can forgot what someone did, but you never forget how they make you feel.” This is particularly essential for younger students because once an attitude towards the self, towards creativity, or towards learning is settled, it can take years to change. This is why projects like “Urban Stories” that take students out into the world, that remind them there is a world outside of exams, is essential. One of Bounce’s collaborators described the impact of their work on the students: “they are more open to new ideas. They want to learn more. They laugh.” This is the miracle.

An open-minded environment

It is perhaps unsurprising that an environment where expectations are very set, where there is a right answer (and a concomitantly narrow vision of success) that learning is often limited. Research shows that creativity dies in such an environment and, of course, that shame tends to be rife within it. Given that 80% of learners give up on their subjects because of a shaming experience, it is essential that the learning environment for students is an open dialogue. For me, this has been born out by my experience. I remember feeling anxious during an inspection because my class had engaged in a conversation about their work that I had not anticipated. For all of my anxiety, I stood back and facilitated the talk and I fully expected to be reprimanded for their lack of focus. Yet, the outcome was the opposite – the students worked on problems together, each building upon the ideas of the other and creating their own perspective on the topic studied in ways I hadn’t anticipated. This is where Bounce is ideally placed to help students. It is a safe space for those who need love and nurture, where the quiet voice of each person gets a chance to gain strength.

Our initial findings support a picture that, piece by piece, is telling a tale to me. It is a tale with heroes and villains, and for each individual, the outcome is up to us. The main villain of this story is shame and judgement. Where learners feel disempowered to make mistakes, it is the killer of both their creativity and their self-esteem. The other villain (more the muscle bound henchmen of shame and judgement) is silence. Silence of one’s authenticity for fear of inadequacy and silence of groups that do not fit a narrow idea of success. The heroes of this story are those who reach out, those who listen and those who empower and where we stand in that, is up to us.

Happy Birthday Bounce

Happy Belated Birthday Bounce! I am a day late in doing this because I spent yesterday at home with a poorly toddler instead of eating cake, looking at photos of past projects and planning some clever advocacy of what turning 11 meant.

However, a wise woman reminded me last tonight that I should just speak from the heart. So here goes …

After 11 years, we’re still here. That feels like quite a thing. Over 11 years we’ve changed, evolved, grown up and found our voice.

We’ve worked with hundreds of young people…literally hundreds. From three to 21 across numerous boroughs. We’ve made young people fly, cry, sing and dance. They’ve been amongst other things irate teenagers, princesses, witches, wizards, ghosts and a donkey.

Together, we’ve made work on estates, in underused theatre spaces, in youth festivals, in a hospice, a museum, schools, alternative education programs, at the seaside, in a classroom, along a riverside and at festivals.

We’ve worked with amongst others parents, families, adults, communities, teachers, youth services, hospice staff, outreach officers, housing officers, commissioners, local authority providers, neighbourhood resident associations, older peoples centres, care homes and churches as part of what we do.

Our work has evolved in form and content. We no longer measure our success by the theatre we make but the theatre we put into people’s lives…if you will.

This autumn, some young people are making an epic piece of interdisciplinary work about confronting loneliness in the city to put in the Saatchi Gallery. In another project a group of parents finished up cycling an old community room. Last week they commissioned their first workshop with cake (wise women) . A group of children in another project want to write kind notes to their teachers and hide them in the register for International Kindness Day.

I love it all. I’m proud of it all. Proud of the projects I am running and proud of the projects I get to see be run.

Looking back over a decade, Bounce has constantly evolved. In response to my concentration span, my artistic interests and later on down the line a teams interests. It has also evolved in line with the social and economic climate. We began in the giddy days when every child mattered and there was an abundance of money to invest in after school clubs and projects. We just about held it together when those services were suddenly dissolved. We weren’t mature enough (emotionally or financially) to be ready for that. Over the years, we’ve swam the waves of funding whilst trying to understand which in trend banner to hold to determine whether we were community/outreach/participatory and so forth.

Now we’re 11 we’re old and have officially stopped trying to be trendy.

Politics, statistics, evidencing and trendy words aside, when it comes down to it, we’re still here because we think with our hearts (and occasionally with our heads) and want to provide a space for people to be listened to.

A wise woman (I know a lot of them) once told me I practise ‘deep listening’. I never understood it until now. I think I’m half way to getting it. Maybe. As I see it (at the moment) Bounce is a collection of tiny stories about people.

It’s the girl who was bullied at school, joined a project and wore her down by the end of it because she felt like she belonged somewhere.

It’s the young carers who gave up everything but Bounce as their after school club for years.

It’s the girl whose reading levels went up after she joined a drama project.

It’s the boy not in school and who went on to win a competition at the Donmar because he had the time to share the fact he could write poetry.

It’s the girl who spoke to strangers for the first time when she did front of house for a project.

It’s the 24 young people at risk of slipping out the system turning up to rehearse after school to be in a play.

It’s the girl who curated an exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery a year after declaring she was too ghetto to be there.

It’s the invisible thing that happens when you listen to people and give them a time and a place to be creative.

All of us in the core team have been the uncertain young people who found the world made sense to them when they stepped into the arts. So I just really mean it when I say the power of this work is transformative. Creativity has made me who I am and still sustains me at the times when I have navigated the unexpected in adulthood. I think creativity is something to really hold onto at the moment. I read the news in Twitter headlines and snapshots since having a toddler, but the world is increasingly divisive and holding onto what creativity offers is ever more vital.

Having Bounce is a really beautiful gift. I founded it but its built on the spirit of everyone who has helped me make it. It’s a really special thing to be a part of and it is with great joy I celebrate our 11th birthday now (and later in the week… where there may well be a bit of cake).

As we move into our second decade, I am excited by our next evolution. As we produce theatre alongside installations and develop lines of research to support enquiry based learning.

It’s big and its scary and it might not amount to anything, but perhaps after 11 years I’ve learnt there’s nothing to fear from having a pop at it.

Happy Birthday Bounce. You are ace.

Louise

Kindness

…The perpetrator was last seen in the city centre, committing random acts of senseless kindness.

Why is it that when you hear stories like this on the news, that the last word in the sentence is never kindness? Somehow, when someone loses control, it never seems to be their instinct to make the world better…this makes me wonder what life would be like if it were. Imagine someone going crazy and showering strangers with sincere compliments, calling all those people they forgot to thank over the years, spraying graffiti that the world was beautiful.

The idea is not as strange as you might think. Studies show that human beings are tribal creatures and we are physiologically adapted to work together. Kinder people have higher vagal tone  – a phenomenon that is linked to better health, better sleep and better academic success. The recovery rate of heart attack victims was 60% higher in those who had a happy marriage and a friendship network. Acts of kindness have been shown to increase the amount of serotonin (feel good hormone) produced by your brain both in the person who commits the act and the person who benefits from it. Statistically, you’re more at risk of rhinovirus (the cold/cough virus) if you’re lonely than if you’re run down.

My favourite example of the impact of kindness was a dietetic study involving rabbits. The rabbits were fed junk food so scientists could study the results but one group seemed to be far healthier than the rest. This group was eating the same but not showing the same results. The reason? It turned out that one of the lab technicians had become so fond of this particular group he was taking each one out and stroking it each night!

Thinking back to our perpetrator, the sorts of destructive behaviours that we hear all too often on the news are therefore not so hard to understand. There is plenty of evidence out there that suggests when we feel isolated, it is both our minds and our bodies that suffer. Therefore, isn’t it important to imagine a world where instead of unleashing rage, we unleashed kindness? What might a city look like if one person did this? What if whole groups embarked in a campaign of guerrilla kindness? What if you could create a whole city based on it?

In a celebration of both our Urban Stories project and ahead of World Kindness Day, Bounce Theatre has developed a pack of free resources in which we encourage you to explore the idea of a kindness in thecity. The pack includes some small guerrilla kindness tasks as well as English and Art activities exploring the idea of a kind city.

Amber

Click for Kindness in City resource

Creativity and international peace day

I don’t mind Trump, apart from the racism.

I don’t know.

I don’t have any ideas.

It’s 2017. Grenfell shouldn’t have happened.

Culture changes a city.

My anxiety levels shoot up when I travel into town.

When bad things happen, good things can come out of it.

These were some of the thoughts and comments coming out of my workshop this week. Urban Stories is a project asking a group of young people to conceive and develop ideas for an interdisciplinary exhibit of their ideal town.

I stopped myself earlier in the week rushing in with armfuls of motivational quotes and poetry. This was in truth simply because it was late in the evening, my printer was about to run out of ink and my toddler son has stopped sleeping through the night. I was running on empty.

I justified it to myself that it was actually more important that I understood what they valued and what excited them anyway. I was asking them to conceive a city – which when broken down is a complex myriad of issues around politics, aesthetics, culture, transport, law and order. Where to start as the world is today?

I decided they could it without all my resources.

Travelling to the session, I had tried to go a quicker route and failed. So I was stuck on the bus. I started checking emails and whatsapp. In the ongoing attempt to be less stressed and break my reliance on technology I hid my phone and stuck my nose to the window and looked at their town.

I became calm.

In my calmness, I opened the session asking them for their name and something they valued about their day. I was a bit disheartened that most valued that they’d been able to complete their maths test, or their course work or some form of work. . . I’m not sure what I was hoping for but its perhaps a stark reminder of the pressures young people (and their schools) are under at the moment.

After some games and play, we settled down to develop some ideas for the project. I pulled out the things my printer had managed to spit out. I found myself reminding them not just to perform the quotes that they liked. It was meant to be a springboard to their own ideas…

As groups formed and began to tackle the seemingly simple but complex task of conceiving the narrative of their own city, I was reminded of a number of things. . .

A wise woman (who is not me) defined our work to be like building a house. I design the frame and I ask a bunch of people to come in and furnish it for me. The only thing is that non of us really know what colour we want the rooms to be. So we’re busy trying to form an idea of what it might be. An idea is as Stephen King apparently once said, like having a team of removal men bringing in and taking out furniture in your brain…. There’s a group of us all trying to move at the same time and learning to understand each other more.

So in this complex process, I sat with one group who said they didn’t have any ideas. I wondered if I’d pitched this all wrong. I also though maybe they are wary because they don’t feel as politically charge as others. Now as I sit and write about it, I wonder if maybe given the most valuable bit of their day was about work, what their brains needed was to relax, get a pizza and watch Eastenders (I learnt they liked this in the first game, the pizza I’m adding for effect). Anyway, we talked about where they live, what they liked and what they didn’t. With more conversation, questioning and probing within minutes we were talking about aesthetics of buildings, mindfulness and feelings of stress in being in a crowd.

Another group made work about Grenfell and the terroist attacks. The group of boys that either play the clowns or lie on the floor because they were tired spoke about the value of something good coming out of bad. They had images in their mind of tower blocks rebuilding and words forming. I was a little humbled by their sincerity and how I’d wrongly assumed they would do something funny.

The third group opted for devising around the shared values that keep our humanity. Equality, anti racism  … they decided that it would be a piece about people, as it was people who make the city, despite our apparent facelessness to each other, it’s our values that bind us together.

We all arrived somewhere together by the end of the session. Our house if you like had some swatches of paint on the walls.

There was detail to the idea now. The city would be made in three sections. Aesthetics  & culture, the shared values of humanity and the hope that can come from tragedy would intersect and become one place to be.

This is why creativity matters. 

It’s not a straightforward process, you can’t measure it in whether you get a certain number of questions right in a test. It’s subjective and intrinsically in the bones of people. Whether they are making great theatre or cooking something so their child learns to eat. It’s the platform to be given a voice to your feelings. An opportunity to allow 14 year olds to tackle complex issues where they move from discussing Grenfell to touching on forming views about housing policy & their right to vote. It’s that journey from saying you don’t have an idea to end up identifying that you could build a city that actively encouraged people to stop and take a breathe to reduce anxiety.

I had a little note to myself that I would blog about International Peace Day today. I’m not sure what I intended to write. It’s been a week where off the top of my head there is a report on the rapid decline in the take up of arts subjects, our government continues to fall apart over Brexit and climate change is being denied by a very large country torn up by hurricanes …  I’ve never been more convinced of the importance and power of both the everyday and extraordinary acts of creativity to make a positive contribution to the way we can all make our small difference. Maybe then we’ll at least point towards the vision these lovely young people have for what the world could be.

Louise

Bouncing Forward

“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.” – Joe Simpson, in Touching The Void, talking about his decision to lower himself deeper into the crevasse he has fallen into, alone, with a broken leg, in the Peruvian Andes.  3 Jul 2011

At some point in all of our lives, we face adversity. Things we had taken to be guarantees(our parents, our health, our sense of safety) fall through and we are left with the frightening realities of living. Living is dangerous. Living sometimes is uncertain. And the question we must ask ourselves is: what do we need to do in order to continue and thrive anyway?

This was the question that emerged for me as I started writing about intelligence and creativity. These two factors seem to be the key components for surviving in a world that can be both violent and mercurial.  Creativity – defined by Ken Robinson as the ability to generate dynamic, original ideas that add value – enables us to engage in convergent thinking, to brainstorm, in other words, all of our options. Intelligence – the ability to adapt our methods in order to change the outcome – allows us to analyse and make the right decisions. A further aspect that I believe makes a difference is grit.

Grit – described by psychologist Angela Duckworth – is the ability to sustain interest in and effort towards long term goals. It includes personal attributes like resilience, self esteem and self-discipline and has discernible outcomes including higher IQ scores and greater mental wellbeing.

Adverse circumstances

Personally, I believe we are in confusing times for all three of these skills. Despite being innate to all of us, I think creativity is a vastly misunderstood quality, too often confused with fame and imitation. If we define creativity as the ability to make new ideas, it’s ironic that so much of the “creativity” that we see is referential – someone singing the songs that were written for someone else. I believe that true creativity bears no relationship to its bejewelled media cousins. It has a quiet nature, it is an individual, authentic voice gaining strength, it is the process of developing a fresh point of view. In a world of endless snapchat photographs, creativity is the first Man Ray.

Intelligence faces equal difficulty. Our society has developed such a narrow perception of intelligence that one may think our job was “to create university professors and nothing more” (Ken Robinson) and in his research, Graham Donaldson noted the constant pressures facing schools so that their job has been about “implementing external procedures faithfully” instead of creating environments that encourage curiosity and nurture diverse talents.

The implications for “grit” in these circumstances are equally concerning. As Einstein wrote, “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In the same way, if we look at students with diverse talents as stupid (which our Education system does) then how long until they begin to incorporate that experience with their own self perception? How much resilience does it take to continue when your time at school teaches you that you that you can’t. Shame researcher Brene Brown says that 80% of students quit a subject because of a humiliating experience when working with it. The implications for disaffection and wellbeing in learners are wide ranging.

How to thrive

This is not to say that all is lost – quite the reverse. There are many factors that help us develop these skills and these include great relationships – with our family, our friends and ourselves – our sense of gratitude, and what we grow up around. It includes those great parents and teachers out there who inspire us with encouraging environments even in constrained times. It also includes our own attitudes and choices – to embrace our passions and pay attention to our interests, to get up each day and say “not today Satan, not today!”

This is to say that Bounce stands for these children and their futures and it is always recruiting. We’re part of a movement that recognises the importance of grit, intelligence and creativity and we understand that if we want individuals to have them; we have to give them the skills.

Donaldson describes it as the ability to “identify and grasp opportunities, reframe and creatively frame problems”. The Reggio Emilia describes it as “experiential learning in a relationship driven environment.” Personally, I describe it as wholehearted learning: being curious, playful and resilient in a world that is home to both ferocious storms and ferocious passions. And that one, in fact, provides the context for the other.

If you are interested in contributing to our work, following the journey of the research or receiving  resources emerging from the projects please do contact us.

Amber

Components of learning – grit,creativity and intelligence

“You gotta make decisions. You gotta keep making decisions, even if they’re wrong decisions. If you don’t make decisions, you’re stuffed.” – Joe Simpson, in Touching The Void, talking about his decision to lower himself deeper into the crevasse he has fallen into, alone, with a broken leg, in the Peruvian Andes.  3 Jul 2011

At some point in all of our lives, we face adversity. Things we had taken to be guarantees(our parents, our health, our sense of safety) fall through and we are left with the frightening realities of living. Living is dangerous. Living sometimes is uncertain. And the question we must ask ourselves is: what do we need to do in order to continue and thrive anyway?

This was the question that emerged for me as I started writing about intelligence and creativity. These two factors seem to be the key components for surviving in a world that can be both violent and mercurial.  Creativity – defined by Ken Robinson as the ability to generate dynamic, original ideas that add value – enables us to engage in convergent thinking, to brainstorm, in other words, all of our options. Intelligence – the ability to adapt our methods in order to change the outcome – allows us to analyse and make the right decisions. A further aspect that I believe makes a difference is grit.

Grit – described by psychologist Angela Duckworth – is the ability to sustain interest in and effort towards long term goals. It includes personal attributes like resilience, self esteem and self-discipline and has discernible outcomes including higher IQ scores and greater mental wellbeing.

Adverse circumstances

Personally, I believe we are in confusing times for all three of these skills. Despite being innate to all of us, I think creativity is a vastly misunderstood quality, too often confused with fame and imitation. If we define creativity as the ability to make new ideas, it’s ironic that so much of the “creativity” that we see is referential – someone singing the songs that were written for someone else. I believe that true creativity bears no relationship to its bejewelled media cousins. It has a quiet nature, it is an individual, authentic voice gaining strength, it is the process of developing a fresh point of view. In a world of endless snapchat photographs, creativity is the first Man Ray.

Intelligence faces equal difficulty. Our society has developed such a narrow perception of intelligence that one may think our job was “to create university professors and nothing more” (Ken Robinson) and in his research, Graham Donaldson noted the constant pressures facing schools so that their job has been about “implementing external procedures faithfully” instead of creating environments that encourage curiosity and nurture diverse talents.

The implications for “grit” in these circumstances are equally concerning. As Einstein wrote, “if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” In the same way, if we look at students with diverse talents as stupid (which our Education system does) then how long until they begin to incorporate that experience with their own self perception? How much resilience does it take to continue when your time at school teaches you that you that you can’t. Shame researcher Brene Brown says that 80% of students quit a subject because of a humiliating experience when working with it. The implications for disaffection and wellbeing in learners are wide ranging.

How to thrive

This is not to say that all is lost – quite the reverse. There are many factors that help us develop these skills and these include great relationships – with our family, our friends and ourselves – our sense of gratitude, and what we grow up around. It includes those great parents and teachers out there who inspire us with encouraging environments even in constrained times. It also includes our own attitudes and choices – to embrace our passions and pay attention to our interests, to get up each day and say “not today Satan, not today!”

This is to say that Bounce stands for these children and their futures and it is always recruiting. We’re part of a movement that recognises the importance of grit, intelligence and creativity and we understand that if we want individuals to have them; we have to give them the skills.

Donaldson describes it as the ability to “identify and grasp opportunities, reframe and creatively frame problems”. The Reggio Emilia describes it as “experiential learning in a relationship driven environment.” Personally, I describe it as wholehearted learning: being curious, playful and resilient in a world that is home to both ferocious storms and ferocious passions. And that one, in fact, provides the context for the other.

If you are interested in contributing to our work, following the journey of the research or receiving  resources emerging from the projects please do contact us.

Amber

Components of learning – curiosity and trust

Listening to a program entitled “Science’s great blunders” recently, I was hugely inspired by closing words of the presenter. He said that, in our society, we fear being wrong so greatly that we have created a society of people where we are afraid to be curious. “Getting it wrong” is so synonymous with shame and ridicule, that it’s far better to hide curiosity away like a dirty secret.

Consider for example, the way that learning behaviour changes in children when they are toddlers to when they are teenagers. Teenagers are often slow to give a response in class – there’s no stopping the toddlers!

What is surprising about this trend is that it is our nature as human beings to explore – our evolution relies upon it. We invent, we question, we investigate; and from this investigation our ability to live grows. Consider Edison, who famously “found 99 ways to not make a light bulb” before he changed the world. This is the joy of curiosity.

The Learning Process

To me, the learning process essentially starts with that curiosity, on the parts of both learner and teacher. There must be curiosity about the world around them, a willingness to reflect and change their minds (children are often better at this than adults), and trustthat they will each be valued by the other along the way.

The process itself really takes the same form as one of those science experiments we did at school – we notice things, we try to explain them, we test out the idea and then reflect on the results to see if we were right, wrong or inconclusive. Of course, usually the results show more than we bargained for and that leads onto the next experiment…and then the next…

I say the experiments that we did at school. This is actually exactly what naturalist playwrights Ibsen and Zola were doing back at the turn of the Century. – taking a situation, introducing a new idea and watching characters unravel…and watching what the audience makes of it.

Artists and Educators, Bounce and Learning

I think the most exciting thing about Bounce is that it is working towards a model of learning that explores without the constraints of regular, formalized education. This means that, as a company, we are free to consider all the issues that are relevant to the people we work with and base our work solely upon them. The emphasis we have placed on a nurturing environment intrinsically means we build trust with the people we work with and we are far better placed to be willing to change our thinking. Yet, as Spiderman learned, “with great power, comes great responsibility”. If we are going to make a valuable contribution long term, it feels essential that we reflect carefully on our projects , making sure we share ideas and agree findingsbefore again becoming curious. Because it would be a terrible tradgedy, wouldn’t it, if we made startling discoveries that slipped through our fingers?

Amber

Birthday Planning

I love birthdays. I love the cake and the candles and the celebration of each year as it passes. I have wonderful memories of special presents that were bought for me on my “special day” in the past, as well as those I selected, carefully and thoughtfully, for my loved ones. I have happy memories of watching people on their birthdays and how special it felt to know that others were celebrating your being on the planet for another year.

I love birthdays. Yet, with every one that passes, I find myself haunted with questions like:

How did I spend the time this year ?

Was it a good year?

What did I do this year?

What do I regret from this year?

And the big question:

What should I do about all that next year?

Part of me thinks it’s a morbid practice – a way to create worries on a day of celebration. I answer myself with the fact that I want to live without regrets as far as is possible and no matter what life hands me, I feel determined to hand death back nothing but the “burned out castle” of a future. when the day comes, I want to have achieved and experienced all that I wanted to and central to that is being vigilant about my time. Another year has gone. Was it wisely spent?

Bounce Theatre turns eleven this year. As it moves towards its birthday, we have found ourselves asking similar questions. What has it achieved? How do we know? Is it all we hoped it would be at its original inception? And crucially: What do we want it to achieve in the future?These questions have many encouraging answers. There are testimonials from both artists and participants that evidence a body of work that changed lives, supported creative expansion and brought communities together. Students with complex needs have gone on to win awards, Bounce has expanded across several boroughs and it has gained a number of prestigious partners including both The Saatchi Gallery and the V&A. In many ways, Bounce has surpassed its original vision – a theatre that helps people. And yet it seems there is more to be done.

There is more to be done because Bounce is a company that was made in response to evolution – we learn, we Bounce back, we grow forward.It is a company that helps people but what does it do? How we measure it in a way that is empirical and can be shown? And crucially What needs should it be serving?

The following series of blogs forms a loose narrative of Bounce’s adventures in researching some of these questions. We’re finding out exactly what we all need to survive, and looking at some of the ways that Bounce can answer those needs better. The hope is that over time, our work will form a real basis for meaningful transformation and that, when Bounce is 12, the best gift we have will be change.