‘The Boggart in the Wardrobe’ – Supporting transitioning students through creative practice (2014)

Jill LeBihan & Rachel Mason

‘The boggart in the wardrobe’, for those who don’t recognise it, comes from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  In the novel, the episode shows how the Hogwarts students overcome their worst fears through creative thinking and aversion therapy.  The episode also functions, in the novel, to highlight the work of Professor Lupin in encouraging some of the less confident students to flourish.

This workshop will introduce participants to a planned induction/transitioning session that has been developed for Humanities students by Jill LeBihan (as a teacher of many Level 4 English Literature students) and Rachel Mason (as a developing curator and postgraduate student in Fine Art).     The workshop that we will demonstrate is focused on breaking some learning and thinking habits as a stepping stone to supporting creativity in academic writing.  The workshop relates to work on Winnicottian models around play as ‘the process of finding through pleasure what interests you’ (Phillips 1988: 144) and the work of Ken Robinson who stresses the need for promoting experimentation and play without fear of failure.  We mess around with the notion of the uncanny and produce some creative and analytic responses in participants generated by discomfiting images.  We also run some games and making activities that help students understand and play with assessment criteria.

The workshop has been planned and delivered to Level 4 students by Jill and Rachel as part of the Students as Researchers project and will not only demonstrate our approach to supporting the creative development of some inhibited undergraduates but will also illustrate the creative potential of interdisciplinary working.   As well as delivering a sample of our workshops, we will reflect on what our student participants have made of the process.

Depending on numbers in attendance, participants will engage in one of three activities devised and tested on undergraduates.  They will take away from this a sense of a creative experience and some workshop activities and materials that can be used in induction or early sessions with Level 4 students.  If they’re lucky, they might also get to take away a clay model!