My name is Beatriz Acevedo and I became a NTF in 2020 and believe that education is an art, with the power to transform lives and make a difference in the world. For twenty years, I have explored ways in which art and education complement each other, seeking to empower students and colleagues to think creatively and critically about topics like sustainability, entrepreneurship, and professional development.
My own journey as an educator starts as an idealistic teacher in Colombia, influenced by Paulo Freire and the Students’ Movement, toward a more structured educator in the United Kingdom. The connecting thread has been the idea of integrating art, play and creative methods into my teaching. Not an easy task, especially when teaching in Business and Management, where frameworks and metrics somehow curbs the creative processes and failing experiments that accompany the development of any innovative idea. Similarly, taking risk does not make you popular when students want clear marking criteria, and are worried about the mark rather than the process. But as we know, it is not about marks or specific skills but problem solving, creatvity, flexibility, interdisciplinarity, resilience and critical thinking are the “key skills” for current and future jobs.
The Covid crisis has shown that those things we took for granted are not anymore, and that ambiguity and uncertainty are part of our work as educators, citizens, and community members. Currently I am working as academic developer for the Ruskin Modules at Anglia Ruskin University: these are interdisciplinary modules for every student in L5 (year 2) in all the faculties at the university, dealing precisely with wicked questions. Every fortnight I hold a Ruskin Module Open Studio in my actual art studio ( a messy, creative space), where we use art-based methods (drawing, collage, photography, storytelling, performance, puppetry, etc.) to work about specific aspects in the pedagogical design of the modules.
This playful approach is also part of a new initiative with NTF Andrew Middleton on a podcast called Exquisite Education, drawing upon the surrealist game of the Exquisite Corpse, in which we invite people to start with a “head” talking about an interesting topic in their pedagogical practice and throughout 30 minutes we develop it, give it legs and even feet (or actions). If you are interested in being part of it please let me know! In the meanwhile, please peruse our episodes: https://exquisiteeducation.podbean.com/