Creating ‘one big masterpiece’: synthesis in creative arts youth work

Edward Beggan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Working in a variety of informal education settings including schools, prisons and hospitals, has suggested that young people have issues that require them to be empowered and to have voice, regardless of the setting. (Coburn and Wallace, 2011) 
Creative learning and cultural participation offer a means for people to improve their understanding of themselves and to achieve individual and collective well-being (Creative Scotland, 2014). Yet, in questioning whether our education systems do enough to enable learners to flourish, Putnam (2015) argues for improvements in the use of methods to develop learning, creativity and innovation, where the streaming of short films, plays, animation and documentaries create ‘educational assets’ (p.122) for transformational education (Mezirow, 2009).
Drawing on the work of Freire (1970) and Girouxs’ (2005) theories of education and critical pedagogy, this article draws on findings from a multiple case study that examined use of creative arts in two youth work projects and examines the relationship between creative arts, music, young peoples’ learning and social development in a creative arts youth work (CAYW) environment. It considers the notion that creative arts “give voice to narratives of human experience” (Mclean 2011) and by fostering youth work values and principles which are “often ignored as an under researched practice” (Gormally & Coburn, 2013) shows that informal educational settings can provide young people with alternative learning methods. 
While ‘there is no single method and design that can act as a catch for all studies’ (Edwards & Talbot, 1999, p.59) this paper brings a greater understanding of the concept of youth work and how it can be applied in different settings and contexts. Providing young people with a creative arts platform gives them a voice. This not only empowers but enables critical reflection on their educational experience and opens up the path to transformative learning.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2018
EventImplementation and Challenges of Multicultural Education
: What can Thailand Learn from the Experiences of the UK?
- Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand
Duration: 5 Jun 20188 Jun 2018 (Call for papers)


WorkshopImplementation and Challenges of Multicultural Education
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