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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Letters to a friend part 5

Hi Michael
Yes, I would say more than just a 'subliminal presence' in the painting video; seemed well orchestrated (and not just the music... boom boom!)
Your 80s dream school sounds similar to those based on Steiner principles?
Love the unschooling & Lehla's blog. What a wonderful way to teach & learn about The World. Learning is doing & all the more meaningful & relevant because of it.
Thanks for the thoughts.

Michael's reply
Hi Melanie,
Similar yes in a practical way, but our dream was that the Education System would replicate our model and make it a universal learning concept. How naive we were.
And now, as a result of sheer power of the information flow, it seems that the old ways can only crumble in the medium to long term. Parents and their children will just vote with their ipads.
And unschooling will be the driving concept, because their will be a need for centralised organisation.
It is happening slowly through the sheer energy and commitment of a minority.
I have witnessed unschooling projects where children share research topics with kids of other nations;
and sometimes in real time too. It is not linear or chronological and I know that some teachers find it frightening to behold. Kids love it and develop a love for learning.
Which is what it's all about, don't you think? The fostering of a love and passion for learning, for life.


Check out Michael's Starstone retreats in Italy at the beautiful Casa Faustina in Assisi
Next retreat 'The Creative Mind'

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm not sure what you'll make of this

Stephen Bray, with whom I shared an exhibition in Turkey last year recently shared his five top tips for creative photographers. In fact he addressed the piece to their spouses, but that's another story.

Not everyone will agree with what he writes. Even I am unsure about some of it, but he does provide food for thought, so I thought I would share the document with you.

Let me know what you think.

Best wishes,

The fee for our Bristol workshop is £160, with a reduction for early booking. Contact Colin Tracy UK 01305 889476 or, mobile 07874 910877 for full details.
    or email:

News Flash... Still places available on our Creative Mind retreat in June in Italy
Call Michael +39 3283535358

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

pitfalls and creativity pt 4

 Melanie Newstead from Adelaide replies to pt 3 blog

'Very true Michael. However, as a teacher of young children, I have to say that television, ipads & computer games have a lot to answer for!
I often struggle to elicit creativity from my students and much of their play, making, art, construction etc is based on ideas or characters from television or computer games. If I see one more picture of whatshername from Disney's 'Frozen', I'm likely to scream!
There's a lot to be said for my childhood (all those aeons ago...;) when we were told to simply 'go play'. What joy in creating, inventing... games, dances, radio plays etc.
Our modern lives are highly structured and organised, both in family & school settings. Where are the opportunities for precious free and unstructured play time? This is when the creative and inventive minds are nurtured and grow.
Thanks for the post :)

Michael replies...

Hi Melanie,
In the late eighties, there were a bunch of us in London, professors, artists and media folk who, sensing change in the education arena, applied for European funding to launch a project on the creation of a more balanced form of learning. It included the creation of a new type of school; half farm really, where children researched subject matter guided by enablers and organisers. The plan was that children spent half their time inside the lab/classroom and half outside getting involved in practical stuff; mud up to their eyebrows sort of thing. Needless to say, it didn't get funding and The Education Dept just snorted at it. And now of course we have Cloud Learning and Unschooling which have been created thanks to the internet, and schooling seems to be unraveling by its own momentum. But still, even here, there are problems of containment and constraint.
I really do like what you say about 'precious free and unstructured play time, that this is when the creative and inventive minds are nurtured and grow'
Maybe you have seen this video and I know what you are going to say. 'Twenty five kids in my class doing this?' And what about the dry cleaning bills and the materials?
But even here there is a feeling of a subliminal adult presence and direction, don't you think?
Nonetheless, creative play is natural to a child and the skilled teacher knows when to infuse rational learning into unstructured play.
(BTW I can't help but notice that the subject of Education was decidedly absent from this election campaign (UK). This astounds me)
My final thought is that things are stirring and changing almost by default and it is well worth a look at the two areas I mentioned above. Cloud Learning , Unschooling 
Also check out Minecraft, wonderful for kids, a way to connect with others aroud the planet
I would love to hear your thoughts,


Michael runs retreats on Creativity in Assisi, Italy

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Pitfalls and creativity pt 3