Slowing students down = better ideas faster

For the last four weeks, students at Colfe’s school have been integrating the MyIdeas process into their project. They have selected which GCSE exam question they are working on for a mock project and are developing their ideas.

I have been in a few times now to assess their development and advise on how they might proceed, analysing which elements of the development stages require more work and helping them find solutions if they are ‘stuck’ . It is clear that you are able to effectively and instantly help a student who has created good quality MyIdeasBooks and done their research. This is necessary as time constraints in the classroom are tight.

MyIdeasBook development harnesses the Slow Movement educational philosophy ‘It is about enabling students to learn how to learn.’

Here is a student sharing her research on MyIdeasBook in class and talking about her ideas. We can quickly see where her passion and interest lies and help her move forward in her work in a focused way because she is developing what she is enjoying and cares about. The main issue was needing to develop her own imagery by taking photos and creating her own personal reference material.

MIB in class

My role as a visiting artist using MyIdeasBook to develop projects is to support and work in harmony with the teachers and adding a layer of process and learning to the students development.

The process of image selection, collection and adding imagery to MyIdeasBook encourages carefulness and thoughtfulness. The way social media and online tools work can encourage a dumping of images, speediness of reactions and distraction from the core idea which discourages due care and attention. We use the Slow Movement process which encourages students to take care with what they select and develop.

MyIdeas training also provides students with a guide in project development so they are able to self assess. More reports will follow as we progress the project.

How to create ‘wow’ project for homework

It should be ‘how to train a 9 year old without them realising that they are being trained.’ I felt this was a great way to test the MyIdeas creative development theory I am using in my schools work on a younger age group.

For the school holidays my son was given the task to research an inspiring person for Black History Month and create an artwork or presentation about that person that would be shown to the class or displayed in school. The Brief.

I thought this would be a brilliant way to put all the idea development training I am working on with MyIdeasBook for schools into practice. The Method.

We began a week before the due date by looking up who to choose and my son found George Washington Carver really inspiring, a man who brought the peanut into agriculture in the USA. We obviously started with Wikipedia but found other interesting sites and pictures too. The Research. Every day we for a week we researched a little more about him and talked about Carver’s work, I asked my son to make notes and think about the questions in the brief.


The year before we had made an A1 sheet with a picture centrally placed and so this must have inspired his thought processes too. Inspiration.

I had booked my son onto a high quality art workshop called ‘Da Vinci’s machines’ locally run by a lovely artist and thought that after two days of that he would probably be quite inspired. Lateral Thought.

The homework was due in on Monday and we had Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and a few hours on Sunday to complete it but (unlike my husband!) I was holding my nerve believing that it would come good and we could manage to do something special in that time frame with all the papers and tools we had at hand.

On Friday I sat him down in my art studio and said – ‘so what are you going to do?’ after about 5 minutes he said ‘I want to print his face out big and have thought bubbles coming out from his head’ I said sketch it out. We brainstormed together, but I was careful to let him lead and he isn’t shy in telling me when he doesn’t want something done in a particular way.  I try to teach him by asking pertinent questions. The Development.

He has a sense of humour and I love the way he is confident to incorporate this into his work… what to do with Peanuts next? Exactly!


From this beginning, with constant referral to the brief and the subject matter we collaborated to create this piece of work. Delivery. (collaborated meaning: I helped him realise his ideas with the materials I had knew we had to hand and encouraged his problem solving)

malli GWC homework

Thinking out of the box occurred because I had set the scene and he felt he could do anything he could think of. If we had more time and resources I could have pushed him farther but this piece was executed really well and fulfilled the brief completely.

The success and ease with which we created this was down to the process of MyIdeas project management drawing out the creativity and dealing with the practical aspects of delivery and timings, things I excel at in my art practice.

Some good things came out of this project, the whole family learned so much about this amazing man and my son achieved more confidence that he can create and deliver his homework in style.

I am back into the schools this week and I am now really ready to brainstorm with the students.