Towards a Creative Education System in Ireland

Mary Hawkes Greene

Burren College of Art

We convened representatives of the entire Irish education system for a 3 ½ day immersive engagement at the Burren College of Art, a professional Art School. We facilitated a large group of participants using creative methodologies that are loosely based on Theory U (Otto Scharner), to enable deep listening, an honest exchange of insights and the emergence of fresh ideas. Some of the exercises that were working well are described here.

Small groups of participants were invited to walk outside in nature in circular paths, while considering some of the ‘big questions’ surrounding the Irish education system.  Afterwards, coming back to the Burren College, they were asked to represent some of their responses to the big questions by means of painting, drawing or making models. 

Their outcomes were presented in the social context of a theater, where they would also be listening to (live) poets, musicians.  Afterwards there was a communal gathering and singing around a bonfire.

Being immersed in nature, participants in small groups fostered real human connections between them. By having them present their findings using alternative modes of expression (visual / somatic) they engaged their heart and gut intelligence in the formulation and communication of outcomes.  This involvement of the ‘whole person’  helped them to reach new insights and generate new ideas.  These ideas were then put in front of the collective + those that assembled as a tribe were pursued, developed and subsequently implemented

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