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Day Dream Believers - preparing for the fourth industrial revolution

3 April 2018

Daydream Believers one-week course at Edinburgh College offers secondary school pupils a chance to experience college life, meet employers and visit Scotland's leading design agencies. Throughout the week college students and employers work alongside the pupils on various challenges, sharing their insights and skills while also promoting creative thinking, and problem solving. 

The Daydream Believers programme is led by Helena Good, Edinburgh College. Helena speaks passionately about the ethos behind the programme and what plans she has for its development;

"I finished secondary school and went on to study Graphic Design at Manchester Poly. I then worked as a Graphic Designer for 6 years and now, and for the last 20 years, I have worked as a College lecturer. Across all my work experience, I along with many others, have come to realize that creativity and the creative process is one of the few skill sets that is, as yet, irreplaceable in this era of the Fourth Industrial revolution. Creative thinking is one of the precious few human attributes that we have not synthesized with technology.

The Creative Industries appears to be one the areas so far where AI is not yet able to replace workers which I believe is due in no small part to the fact that computers can't daydream!

Research has shown that daydreaming allows people to explore ideas, envision situations, and get a better sense of their future selves. Daydreaming allows our minds to wander and has the potential to help determine our life goals and consider ways to achieve them.

So with some evidence behind us we wondered what would happen if daydreaming became part of the schools curriculum and we timetabled a space where daydreaming was actively encouraged and that's when the Daydream Believers began.

In June 2017 20 pupils aged 12- 14, from schools across Edinburgh became our first ever Daydream Believers. These pupils had won their place on the project as a result of their submissions to an online project supported by our College students. Initially our students visited their schools and delivered a taster session of the Daydream Believer experience and then pupils submitted the work they produced.

Using our College students as Creative Ambassadors to deliver this initial taster event, and later on, other parts of the actual Day Dreamer Believer project, has been very effective and enhanced the credibility of the project. Students speak the language of learning from the perspective of learners and have proven extremely effective in communicating the ethos of the project in an accessible manner to their contemporaries.

The overall aim of the week long project was to introduce 12 -14 year olds to a creative process, similar to that taught at College, and thereafter applicable to the work environment. By building the project around the concept of Day Dreaming the project focused on how their own creativity could be applied to a learning experience. Throughout the week our College students worked alongside the pupils on various challenges, sharing their insights and skills. Promoting creative thinking and guiding the process.

http://daydreambelievers.co.uk/

Developing the Dream

We looked at ways that we could develop the daydream experience and use some of our partners from industry to have a more direct input and influence on the curriculum and to help support the work that is already being carried out by our teachers in schools promoting creative thinking, as a necessary multipurpose ability.

In September 2018, with the support of employees from Whitespace, Skyscanner and Realise, we will launch a 15-week pilot programme of engagement involving a weekly one-hour timetabled class for S2 pupils (12-13 year olds). Three schools in Edinburgh have signed up to be part of the pilot. Each school will be teamed up with an industry partner and 2 Edinburgh College Creative Student Ambassadors.

The pilot will be divided into 2 sections. The industry partner, supported by the teachers and the Ambassadors, will lead the first section. Together they would create six one-hour lessons developing problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. At the end of the first 6-week section the employer will launch the second stage - solve and submit. Schools will work independently on a set brief supported through online resources, which the industry partner will help develop. The Ambassadors will support and visit the pupils at different stages of this section, which will run for 9 weeks. Through the use of Slack, Skype and other online resources we will aspire to create an easy and efficient means of sharing insights and resources with both teachers and pupils.

In the last session of the 15-week programme the pupils submit their response to the industry partners. They will receive feedback, an award and an Edinburgh College Module. This will be a means to measure the success for all partners involved.

Pupils from the schools who have taken part in the pilot will be selected to become our Daydream Believers 2019. All of the partners involved in the programme will be invited to input on this programme.

None of this would have been possible without the support and vision of Chris Davey and Neil Walker at Whitespace. Their desire to transform how employers interact with schools has been hugely inspiring to all of us involved in the project.

"When Helena approached me I literally bit her hand off to be involved. I totally got where she was coming from. At school I was not particularly interested in academic work and struggled grade wise, but what I wanted to do was make stuff up and see what happened. I was definitely a Day Dreamer and I think that day dreaming is important in school. Schools need to change, it's not all about ticking boxes. We need to teach children that failure is ok, they can learn from it and it is part of the industry we are in. Its the ones that willing to fail that change the world."

Chris Davey, Head of Creative, Whitespace

We are delighted that Realise, Skyscanner and Campfire will join Whitespace as partners in this development of the pilot.

"When I was at school I really wasn't aware of what jobs lay beyond pursuing a degree in a creative subject. My parents said I wouldn't get a job if I went to art college so I ended up at university. I hope that by introducing pupils to the possibilities of a broad range of careers in creative industries we can inspire them to keep studying creative subjects and develop rewarding careers."

Anne Grieve, Associate Creative Director, Realise

"One of my most valuable experiences at school was spending a week doing work experience in an architect's office. Connecting the dots between my interest in art and design with a working environment gave me the insight into the possibility of pursuing a creative career. I hope that bringing our expertise into the classroom over the course of the programme will have a similar effect - inspiring the next generation of creatives."

Gordon Carmichael, Associate Creative Director, Realise

It is a challenge to persuade educators, pupils and parents that something as intangible and subjective as "creativity" is going to lead to a fulfilling career to rival the more traditional alternatives. But ask anyone with a Chrystal ball about the future of those particular professions or, better still, ask anyone with an insight into how technology, computerisation and artificial intelligence is going to effect the labour market they will tell you that the need for a work force is diminishing and fast. In theory computers, Ai and robots can do just about anything we want them to do. Ask the same people which part of the labour market cannot be readily be replaced and you will be told anyone who invents, creates, and dreams for a living."

How does the College make this happen?

Helena advises that much of the programme is run from good will and borrowed time and the role of the Ambassadors is crucial. The College is looking for modest funding to support: the Ambassadors; travel costs for students and teachers; and the Day Dream Believers programme.

If you would like to find out how to get involved or support this programme contact helena.good@edinburghcollege.co.uk