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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Norwich in Springtime

I used to work for the Open University and we ran summer workshops at the University of East Anglia in the eighties in Norwich. They were part of the Technology, Art and Design course (TAD). My fellow leaders (we couldn't be called teachers because we didn't teach a thing in the conventional meaning of that word) were musicians, performance artists, puppeteers, inventors, Tai Chi trainers, photographers (me); a circus of talented people who would always turn up first day with scarcely an idea between them. Instead we invented a programmes as we went along, working democratically alongside our students who are best described as fellow anarchists, if truth be told. Tadpoles they called themselves. Now, these workshops, which were awash with money (ask for it, you got it) were a necessary component of the three year course, fail it and you had to repeat it the following year. Problem was that these Tadpoles would deliberately fail so they could come back again as is was all such fun. This meant that numbers burgeoned and the these workshops got bigger and fantastically out of control. I loved them. Sadly they closed them down. This makes me smile now. They were parodied in one of the Comic Strip series where the Tadpoles ended up burning a tutor on a funeral pyre on the campus grounds.
Those eighties!

 a starstone creativity retreat in Italy

So back I am to Norwich in April to run a retreat at Breathing Space for Women. And this makes me think how life has changed. Yes, well of course it has you will tell me, but what I am really referring to is is fun. It was all such fun. Fun? A waste of time then you will say. But no! What folks learned was to create together, play together, to unleash torrents of energy and to uncover mysteries within themselves and to discover talents which they never believed they ever had. I suppose I could say that they were given permission to be children again but that isn't it exactly. Playfulness, risk taking, mess making and sharing joyful moments are not just childhood things. All these wonderful ingredients still reside in adults and it is my job to restore them to their rightful place in folks' lives. This is what my experiences and my teaching has taught me. This is what I do.
Can't guarantee we'll get as far as the pyre burning exercise but I'll do my best.
The weekend is for women only by the way.
Except for me.
Sorry boys!

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