Becky Shaw produces live research works for national educational psychologist and SENCO conference
Between 2018-2021 Becky was lead artist and co-investigator on the AHRC funded project, Odd: Feeling Different in the World of Education. ‘Odd’ involved working in close collaboration with one Manchester school in a team that included art research, educational research and visual anthropology, to explore children’s experiences of not fitting in at school.
Despite decades of educational interventions around inclusion and wellbeing, some children still do not find it easy to ‘fit in’ at school and the pressure to conform is overwhelming. ‘Odd’ uses the unique capacity of arts methods to erode simplistic and diagnostic tendencies to construct ‘difference’ vs normal: instead engaging with the affective and qualitative nature of children’s encounters in the school environment. The work concluded with a body of at least 15 artistic research works, as well as academic publication at conferences, forthcoming journal articles and a book.
The project team was invited by Catalyst Psychology to develop their annual conference around the results of ‘Odd’ and forms of inclusion. Their annual conferences offer a rare context for educational psychologists, school leaders and school special education co-ordinators to meet. The conference enabled us to experiment how to convey the insights generated by the works, to support and influence change in school.
Becky was supported by a Sheffield Institute of Policy Studies grant to develop a conference exhibition and to think about how this sensorial and affective body of work might be communicated.
The conference included (in addition to papers delivered by the Odd team and others):
- developing artworks for the conference space (Gorton Monastery) ,
- developing a ‘history of educational psychology’ and ‘arts and education’ library drawn from SHU and MMU collections,
- commissioning new writing from artist (and PGR alumni) Emma Bolland in response to the library,
- commissioning a manifesto named ‘The Neon Paper‘ for the odd school at the conference led by Sarah ‘Smizz’ Smith (PGR), to be circulated post-event to education and governmental leaders.
Becky programmed this exhibition and also re-developed two of the Odd research works made with artist Jo Ray (a Sheffield Hallam University alumna) where conference participants were invited to put themselves in the place of children in our work ‘School Photo Day’ and ‘Skins of School’.
The conference took place on 24 June 2022 at Gorton Monastery in Manchester.
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