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“ Disruptive and challenging …”  


Angela Coates. Cause for comment, 1991, Farnborough Sixth Form College. 


I cannot believe that I am back here, in academia, Central Saint Martins, trying trying trying to make clear what I have learned and how I can demonstrate it and share it with you. I am really impressed that I have made it here, that I have stuck it out, it takes stamina, that is for sure.

I love learning, learning and doing and making and learning is such a great process.  Applying the knowledge is fun, it makes you feel capable and valuable in new ways…  demonstrating the learning in an academic setting… so many rules… tough, for sure it is tough - but without challenges, without stepping out of comfort zones you will stay where we are with what you know.


I’ve always struggled with traditional learning approaches.  Sitting at a desk, listening to the voice of authority, questions to be asked at the right time, humiliation when getting answers wrong, learning to be quiet and fearful of expression.  Looking for validation on comprehension and application.


I got kicked out of sixth form college. My principle feared for his statistics, and so removed the pupils that were viewed as bringing the ‘average’ down.  I was performing in the final year production, these were large affairs, our drama teacher, my hero and saviour, the teacher who was able to recognise and encourage my abilities. loved to put on productions and gave us all jobs as well as acting roles to bring it all together.


It was such an exciting time, dynamic, responsible, team work, problem solving, realising that if you didn’t do something, the impact would be beyond yourself (Moon 2004).


He so inspired and encouraged us, we formed out own theatre company and staged our own productions… his name was Kevin Head and our company was called the ‘Headless Theatre Company’ the learning and the growth, the confidence the grew in this exercise and in this environment was more that any classroom had provided me…  


None of this knowledge and learning was valued. None of this knowledge and learning prevented the exclusion of a capable student when matched against statistics.  


I finished the college production, it was a success, my picture ended up on the wall of the college in the drama department.  A testament to failure.


I went onto technical college and got those A levels, but I was done with academic institutions… I didn’t fit into their statistical model.







My experiences at school have led me here today.


To a room in Morocco, inside a beautiful home, made with mud, organic walls, warm to touch and full of life. The texture built by hands over time.


I’m listening to the women gently talk amongst themselves, preparing the next meal.  The younger girls returning from school, and rushing to feed the sheep behind the wooden door in the next space in this maze made of mud.


Laughter is shared and the tea glasses, washed and ready for the tea that is brewing on the stove are brought to life with rhythms beaten out on the tin tray.  Eyes meet, hands clap and we share a moment of connection, shoulders shake and faces express the joy of the moment.

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