Some of my Thoughts….

From time to time, I will also use this blog to reflect on my academic enterprise projects. I hope you enjoy reading!

In order to help you navigate my numerous entries, here are some key words:

Education: Gamelan Workshops, Diane Abbott MP, Education and Change
Culture: Halle Orchestra, Distinctiveness of Gamelan, Focus on Gamelan Festival, Race and Sex; Black Masculinities, Race and Sport, Race and Classical Music, Art and DisAbility, Intersectionality and DisAbility
Community Enterprise: MEaP (Making Education a Priority) Presentation
Public Engagement: NCCPE, Innovation in Partnership
Social Mobility: Social Justice and Education, Raising Educational Aspirations
Research: Alternative Education and Community Engagement, RIHSC, Bio danza5th International Community Psychology Conference: Social GamingOnline Collaborative Learning
Continuing Professional Development: Developing my Academic Practice

33 thoughts on “Some of my Thoughts….”

  1. Making Education a Priority

    Just a quick one. We had none other than Diane Abbott, MP as our keynote speaker at our conference.

    She is a real fire brand and had lots of thought provoking things to say about the institution of education but also the black communities’ responsibility for engaging with the “institution” and demanding educational “justice”. Inspiring stuff. We also had some stimulating workshops looking at the different forms of community education provision from Cooperative to Free Schools to Arts-led Soecial schools and “everything” in between, some really excellent themes emerged. Look out for the outputs on the Faculty of Education website.

  2. Only You 2.0

    We premiered my piece today, members of the Halle, Electric Voice Theatre, MMU Gamelan and Live Electronics. We were hosted by Axis Arts Centre in Crewe and finished the residency in Halle St Peter’s in Manchester. We had such fun learning on Rachel’s (Dr Swindells, RIHSC) Sundanese (west Javanese) gamelan which is beautiful. Then I incorporated the traditional song Sekar Manis,

    that we had learned into a dubstep and Old Skool, Roni Size influenced drum’n’bass track (the beats were live DJ’d by one of my gifted students, Guillaume DuJat des Allimes) underpinned by the Serbian folk song Drem ka mi se, sung by Electric Voice Theatre (lyrics: “Dream my mother/gran, close your dark eyes” “If you want to dream my son/grandson, then eat and lie down” – translations always sound more prosaic than their infinitely more poetic sounding native settings!!)

    Here is my Interview about the project.

    All of that was topped off nicely by MC Hypes, who MC’d about dreams and aspirations! The “mash up” really worked and was quite exhilarating. So watch out for the Youtube posts of the performance and residency.

    Keep your eyes peeled on here:

    MMU Cheshire, Axis Arts Centre – Only You 2.0
    Halle News

  3. Focus on Gamelan Festival

    Had a really lovely day at Halle St Peter’s at Dr Rachel Swindell’s Focus on Gamelan Symposium that formed part of Focus on Gamelan Festival. My piece Only You 2.0 was premiered on Tuesday, where we had lots of fun. However, today in addition to playing on a gamelan from central Java, I met some excellent practitioners who spoke about how they use gamelan in their community and educational settings. What I found really interesting was the process of discovering the differentiating factor about the Gamelan other than its sound which is obviously central and essential. Sonics apart, I found the egalitarian structuring of the roles within the Gamelan that made the distributive and social aspects of Situation Learning an instrisnic part of the compositional process, without which there would be no piece, utterly fascinating and redolent of transferable pedagogic and facilitational processes. The interdisciplinarity of the participatory learning processes are truly mind boggling when I think about it.

  4. Gamelan Workshops at Loreto College in Hulme, Focus on Gamelan Festival

    Dr Rachel Swindells and I led some workshops at Loreto College Monday 3rd with one of my students Guillaume DuJat who DJ’d the electronics for me in my premiere at Halle St Peter’s. Loreto has its own gamelan orchestra. It is really very impressive (as is their facilities, music, dance studios etc). We also worked with pupils from Manchester Academy. We had a great day! I found out that Loreto hires out its room for free to community groups if they arrange it with Sean Gaughn, the Vice Principal, I was told by Bob (head of security), who is the all seeing eye of the campus. Head of Music Owain was our host, he even came to the performance of my piece. I introduced him to Tony Wright from the Youth Village Limited, as you can’t have enough high quality spaces and facilities. Loreto is like a university and better than many. It is huge and set in lovely grounds and hosts 2,500 students. That is BIG. Our faculty in Cheshire host 5000 students but you would expect that of a faculty of a university but a sixth form college boasting such proportions, impressive! Bob was telling me that they have also been recorded by Ofsted as the best sixth form college in the UK with a clean sweep of 28 Ofsted categories being judged outstanding……

    I think more gamelan mash ups are in order and now we know we can do workshops locally in Hulme at Loreto, this is extremely exciting!!!!

  5. The Distinctiveness of Gamelan

    As I was listening to other versions of Sekar Manis on Youtube,

    I was struck by what Rachel said in the morning (of Friday’s symposium) that the gamelan is not a fixed form of instrumentation, as it can be made out of bamboo, bronze, iron, voices, zithers – each material having its own specific sonic qualities. So I think what unifies all of these different gamelan manifestations indeed is what I suspected on Friday, the compositional structure of how the music is assembled not necessarily the more obvious sonic aspects we associate with the more “generic” gong/metalophone orchestration we more commonly encounter (in the West). Now I’m saying this out loud, as it were, it sounds really obvious but as a composer this is really a significant realisation, as it opens up a whole new world of possibilities of exploring the gamelan, not to mention as a music practitioner in various educational and community settings!!!!!!

    1. What you write makes great sense to me. One of the things I hope the PGCE students will take from the brief introduction they get to Gamelan is indeed the compositional structure of how the music is assembled in the hope that this gives them further starting points when working creatively with young musicians either in the classroom or in instrumental lessons with a music service. I think I need to make more of this – especially to those (very few!) who really can’t see the point of gamelan as part of their training to be an instrumental teacher on a conventional orchestral instrument.

  6. RIHSC (Research Institute for Health and Social Change) Conference at MMU July 4th and 5th

    What an amazing event! It was held in our Business School (The Hub), this year rather than on the Elizabeth Gaskell Campus, this made a difference because The Hub has loads of collaborative open and connecting spaces where different types of events such as Maxine Horne’s performance installation

    and pop up research surgeries could be mounted. I did two presentations: Young Musicians for Heritage project with Carola Boehm and Only You 2.0 – gamelan and collaborative working with Dr Rachel Swindels. The range of speakers and their research was staggering. I was blown away by the sheer variety and creativity of the presentations and the keynote addresses. It was amazing being surrounded by such brilliant researchers, academics and practitioners. Loads of mouth watering collaborative projects were discussed. So keep an eye out for them, as I will post them on here as they evolve! I also need to congratulate my colleague Rachel Swindells for winning the Exemplary Researcher Award. Brilliant.

  7. Exciting Times Ahead!

    Our journey so far: From The Young Musicians for Heritage Project to Raising Educational Aspirations in Hulme, Manchester

    In the Department of Contemporary Arts, Faculty of Manchester Metropolitan University Cheshire, I delivered the Young Musicians for Heritage Project which used music and music technology to connect young people to their local Crewe heritage. The project also managed to link communities from Crewe and Hulme in Manchester, as they worked alongside each other through music to explore their shared railway and industrial histories. This resulted in visits to each other’s venues, shared workshops, joint project performances, joint funding bids and reciprocal support between the organisations. This project led to our Hulme partners, The Youth Village, developing a greater appreciation of their own local heritage and prompted a re-invigoration of their Hulme Hippodrome restoration project.

    As a result of our award winning (Manchester Beacons Recognition Award: New Partnership, p.13) partnership-building through previous arts/heritage-based projects and as part of our wider Birley Fields Campus community development plans, in my role as NCCPE Public Engagement Ambassador, I am now leading the efforts in working with our Hulme communities on raising educational aspirations in the area by exploring how we, as a university can best support the setting up of their own community learning resource . We initiated this phase of our engagement plans with a large Faculty of Education-funded community/university education conference which attracted over 200 delegates from the local communities, 80% of whom represented community organisations from across the Greater Manchester region . Diane Abbott, MP was the keynote speaker. In the conference workshops, we explored the different formats of community schools (free, studio, co-operative, arts-led special, supplementary) and examined how each could meet the needs of the local Hulme communities. As soon as the webpage with the conference outputs is ready, I will post the link here.

    Following the conference we conducted extensive community consultations with organisations who were represented at the conference where the feedback we received was that the communities felt that they had been sitting on a home-grown solution to the challenge of raising educational aspirations in their communities; that is, their Supplementary Schools. Having identified this is as a community outcome, with our principal community partner, The Youth Village we are now working on developing a pilot project to form a small MMU supported-hub of our supplementary schools that will support each other by sharing resources, by providing teacher and curriculum-support/CPD and by looking at funding and self-sustainability. After the pilot, we hope to roll this hub out to include more supplementary schools in Manchester and beyond.

    I’ll definitely be posting our progress with this latest initiative!!!!

    1. Alternative Education and Community Engagement: Making Education a Priority

      I’m very pleased to announce that Palgrave Macmillan will be publishing my book (edited volume) about the education themes that arose from the Making Education a Priority conference. The book will explore the ethics and philosophical considerations of the marketization of education as it is manifested in the Free School, Studio School, Co-op School and Supplementary School models. The book will also be exploring what critical pedagogy looks like in the community and the emancipatory use of the Arts in Education that can promote social justice. I will keep you abreast of how this project progresses…….

    2. A taster of the potential of the catalytic nature of the Arts towards Social Justice?

      I was really interested in how the power of these arts based projects (Young Musicians for Heritage and Only You 2.0) in the communities I worked with two MC’s from Crewe and Manchester to gain places in my department of Contemporary Arts to study music, community practices and creative writing. MC Hypes from Manchester used his Foundation Year in Creative Arts Leadership and Creative Arts Practice at Crewe (which I co-led and co-designed) to gain a place at UCLAN where he graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Studio & Live Music Production in 2018 (I am very proud of him). This is significant as these two youth leaders have become local role models for younger musicians in their communities, where education is slowly becoming valued again. I think what was important was that these artistic projects, led these two musicians to re-evaluate the value of education on their terms, so that they could see the point of Higher Education and what it could do for them, not just in terms of employment prospects but more broadly in terms of their sense of self determination. We cannot underestimate the power of this ripple effect in their communities, for whom education has largely been “inaccessible” and “irrelevant”.

      We also must not fall into the trap of thinking of Education merely as a commodity that can be traded for social mobility, especially as this very concept of mobility is currently eroding before our very eyes. I believe that Education has to be more than JUST a ticket for successfully accessing a neo-liberal paradigm because if its function is only just this, then as educators we will only be churning out graduates to fit into the “system”, cogs in the wheel of a neo-liberal ideology that exists only by (re)producing structural inequality (despite what market advocates will tell you). Surely, education is about more than this? I would like to think that the Arts can encourage a self reflection and expression which can better enable a potential learner to re-engage with education on their terms. This has never been more important for deprived communities for whom education can seem a more and more remote possibility with the psychological factors of debt aversion that our increasingly marketised education system brings.

      Perhaps we need to update our concept of social mobility where WE move upwards up the social ladder to where we MAKE THE LADDER MOVE to our present position. I think education can be a powerful tool in enabling people to be enterprising and self-determining, where who they are and what they do from where they are can gain value without the need for being “mobile” in a dynamic sense. In our current post modernist era, surely learning how to “curate” your own knowledge and in the process generating value that is specific to you but valued by others has to be the way forward. In fact, it could be argued that this is exactly what has been done and continues to be done by those who hold Power in society but perhaps, as educators, by teaching our students to understand these hidden levers of Power, the education we will have to offer them, might just be truly useful to them after all, where they won’t have struggle to open doors that remain closed to them but create their own doors of opportunity (albeit with a struggle). Idealistic, I know but I am intrigued by the process of how this could be made to happen!!!! Cassie Earl in her essay about Critical Pedagogy in the Making Education a Priority Conference, explores this, as does Dr Kehinde Andrews in his essay about Black Supplementary Schools.

      So I will keep an eye on this catalytic facet of the Arts for engagement (in this case in education), as some very interesting things could be emerging……..

  8. Bio danza with James Ferreira Moura Jnr from the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul

    I attended an interesting workshop on the 12th at Elizabeth Gaskell (MMU), where I was introduced to Bio danza. This is a form of community therapy/therapeutic dance that promotes interconnectedness, self-esteem and general well-being.

    I was particularly interested in James’ use of this participatory activity, as he described how bio danza could be used to help people envision the sort of social action that they would like to achieve in their communities. So in effect, using these types of sessions to prime and unite community groups to take action in their local communities.

    What I found intriguing was the level of physical intimacy required for this form of working. I thought that this was perhaps very much a cultural difference between Brazil and the UK where physical contact could be used as a tool for bringing people together for social action/change/empowerment.

    In our session, we were introduced to expressive walking in guided pairs, paired hand massaging and circle dancing (holding hands in a circle and dancing)

    In my experience of (co) facilitating mixed discipline music therapy sessions in special needs units, touch is used as a specific tool of therapy and is tightly governed by the “neutral” and “closed” space that defines a therapy-space (as opposed to a therapeutic space whose outcomes may be therapeutic despite its non therapy intentions). This reminds me of some of my early work in Edinburgh with the Hawkhill Day Centre where we used elements of Jabadao in our work with adults with learning disAbilities. So using touch in an open community setting, firstly to promote group cohesion and self-esteem, then to use these feelings to encourage social action outside of the group was a very interesting concept. James told us of a group of women in Brazil, who after attending bio danza sessions, approached their local authority to ask why their district did not have an adequate number of health centres.

    I would like to learn more about how exactly this activity that resembles a form of community dance therapy can be turned into a catalyst or precursor for social change.

    1. Ornette, appreciated your considerations! You got to express good thoughts and perspectives about the workshop and the use of Biodanza. It really could be used as a tool to strength people and, consequentely, to promote social change.

  9. Silver & Gold Presentation Event for Supplementary Schools
    Tuesday 18th March 2014, 5.00 – 7.00

    The Council Chamber, University of Manchester
    Sackville Street Building

    MEaP (Making Education a Priority) was invited to give a presentation at this important Manchester City Council Event event last night. It was amazing to hear of the work that other supplementary schools are doing. It was also brilliant to hear of the research that the University of Manchester are doing with helping to track the linguistic heritages of the Manchester communities. Apparently, we have over 200 languages spoken in Manchester. I was particularly inspired by the community enterprise work that some of the schools are doing already. The Chinese Supplementary School based in Ardwick, headed by Jenny Wong sounded excellent, as she gave really useful tips for how a supplementary school could form a business plan to allow it to have the revenue streams to provide other community services. The Iranian school which also presented were doing similar things – providing health and well-being classes, community lifelong learning classes etc. This was very inspiring, as Dr Esther Oludipe’s own Highway Hope social enterprise (from which her supplementary schools orginate) also provides holistic community services including counselling, health and wellbeing classes, arts and crafts etc.

    Esther and I would especially like to thank Jenny Patterson (Team Leader for International New Arrivals, Travellers & Supplementary Schools) at Manchester City Council for inviting us to such a special evening!!!!

  10. Meeting Crispim Antonio Campos

    I had a lovely encounter with Crispim who is a Brazilian psychotherapist working in Leeds. Crispim is a disAbility campaigner and is a father to a disAbled child. Crispim is also a wonderful painter. He was invited by Professor Carolyn Kagan to show and discuss his paintings. His artistic work explores aspects of disAbility both social and cultural, acting as a sort of catharsis for him. Crispim predominantly uses the female nude in a semi abstract way, very reminiscent superficially of early Pre-Cubist Picasso. He said that the female represented for him “purity”; a purity of form which would enable him to explore aspects of bodily subjection in the context of the disAbled body. Crispim did use male subjects in a few of his paintings but they were often not nude – in fact they were mainly head shots. In the context of gender studies, Crispim’s use of the female nude was intriguing. Was he equating the bodily representation of disAbility with the subjugation of the female form through the male gaze? His female forms were predominantly passive to be “gazed” at, especially as their eyes and mouths (sometimes their breasts and genitals) were curiously censored, as they embodied a “purity” for him. This patriarchal view of the female form was strangely European, reminding me of painters such as Velazquez, Titian and Rubens (although the females (Venus depictions) in these paintings are given the opportunity to answer back with a returned gaze, at least), whereas his male subjects had that broken, anguished, Bacon-esque quality for me. Transposing this to disAbility makes for provoking thoughts! (This for me, “emasculated” his female nudes, where his nudes weren’t allowed to even return the gaze of the viewer or let alone utter any words of challenge unlike his Titian, Rubens and Valazquez Venus counterparts who exerted Power by seeming to control their sexuality via the viewing of their naked form. Was this how he felt people with disAbilities feel or are viewed or how he views them?????).

    The gendered theme in his work was continued in his use of the “wounded” male images (Jackson and bell hooks have much to say about the wounded male in Black iconography and its forbidden license), which obviously did not represent the female purity of his other images. I found this to be a very interesting juxtapositioning with how his Art was communicating disAbility. The wounded nature of some of the images, almost gave the subjects the status of disAbility – the wounds at once being a badge of honour for the subject but a mode of validation for the “gazer”. This was a perplexing tension when discussing issues around identity and who gets to control that identity in society – what is valid and who makes those decisions. The male and the female duality – which for me evoked thoughts around patriarchal representations in Art – was carried on in his deliberate use of black and white to symbolise a clear cut-ness of disAbility (which I questioned). Crispim’s use of colour was very sepcific as he used yellow as an accent colour in his black and white palette.

    Finally, Crispim’s use of mythological themes from the Afro-European mix of Brazilian cultures was very provoking; for example of a disAbled figure re-imagined as a totem of Power and pride – a male figure.

    All in all an extremely stimulating showing and discussion of some very provocative art!

    5th International Conference of Community Psychology (Fortaleza, Brazil)


    Hayotte Paul
    Universite du Quebec a Montreal (Canada)

    Hayotte’s presentation was about the Canadian experience of citizen engagement. He said that in Canada community organisations were not formally recognised until the 1970s. Hayotte went on to explain that in the 1980s community organisations were created by government. This was viewed as a form of Third Sector partnership with community organisations.

    The challenge for community organisations was that they needed to change their practices in order to justify government funding.

    Hayotte introduced us to his guide, “Guide de practiques innovatrices en participation citoyenne”

    How do you organise citizen participation?

    Hayotte put forward a series of methods that could encourage citizen participation:

    – Trading services between community members
    – Community Video; films made by community members
    – Citizen Theatre; pictorial and Forum theatre
    – World Cafe

    Cafe discussions about community issues organised in a sort of round robin format to allow everyone the opportunity to engage in the discussion in small group settings. (This reminded me of a version of speed dating).


    Jorge Castella Sarriera, UFRGS, and James Ferreira Moura Junior
    Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil),

    James outlined how using mixed methodologies was useful to the facilitator who is working to facilitate change in the community.


    James mentioned tools such as:

    – Focus groups as a qualitative and quantitative methodology
    – Using surveys as a quantitative methodology
    – Using case studies as a qualitative methodology


    Scott Gaule
    Manchester Metropolitan University (UK)


    Scott introduced us to the social application of gaming. He talked about:

    Dys4ia by Anna Anthropy

    This game was about a woman’s experience of her gender re-assignment surgery and process in general. Scott said that is simple game, much like Super Mario with low fidelity graphics but was surprisingly moving and informative.

    Phone story by Michael Pineschi

    This game is about the how I-phones are made and looks at the company’s ethical working practices. Scott said that Apple did not like the critical nature of the game and suggested that Michael should have written a book about it instead of using the game format. Scott talked about a similar game called Molleindustry that explored the labour conditions and production processes for Macdonalds.

    Scott mentioned Gonzalo Frasca’s thesis, “Videogames of the Oppressed” where the player is described as being simultaneously immersed in the game whilst also having an important critical detachment.

    Scott talked about Simulation games that allow players to redesign the game. He also spoke about Alternate Reality Games where players are given a narrative that encourages social collaborative play, like treasure hunts. The play happens in the real world but is conducted via email (or text message). One such game is the 2013 Raiders of the Lost Crown about finding the mythical feathers (head-dress of Montezuman Royality). Scott said that this game allowed players to learn about the histories and contemporary social contexts of the indigenous people.

    Scott mentioned two games developers who worked more in the area of Community Practice.

    Invisible Playground are developers based in Berlin. They use Berlin as a site and break it up into game spaces. They do this by collecting stories about Berlin from its citizens and using the information gathered to create site specific games.

    This made me think about my Young Musicians for Heritage Project and whether its Facebook page could be similarly turned into a Crewe specific game?

    Copenhagen Game Collective uses augmentation to keep folk games alive and current to this generation.

    Scott said that there is currently a move towards promoting game designs where players are encouraged to design their own games. I was particularly interested in this aspect of Scott’s paper because Minecraft had been identified in my own research as an important online social collaborative platform for schools. This is especially important as coding has just been introduced to the National Curriculum for Computing.

    In the post talk discussion, Scott said that Minecraft is a good way into coding and programming and that it is good environment for social collaborative learning.

      5th International Conference of Community Psychology (Fortaleza, Brazil)


      Donata Francescato Professor of Community Psychology, Coordinator of the
      Community Psychology Online Laboratory to study territorial communities, virtual-learning communities and social networks.
      Department of Dynamic and Clinical
      University of Rome (Italy)


      This session was about using Facebook as a collaborative platform for student engagement. Some pedagogic processes included exploring emotions through writing film scripts in groups

      Movie script technique

      – Deciding on genre, title, plot and characters
      – Student groups critique each other’s film plans

      Donata said that in her experience the advantages of online collaboration are:

      – Online material is always available
      – Quicker feedback
      – They learn quicker because they can review their work on line (self-archival)

      Social Capital

      In Donata’s study, online friends stayed together after course and met face to face because there were no online prejudices or social bonds that can often be generated by face to face contact.


      Empowerment begins with consciousness raising before giving them a task to see how they could make changes for themselves.

      In order to measure this, Donata conducted content analysis and measured how many times “I” changed to “We” in their posts.


      Caterina Arcidiacono Professor of social and community psychology and Stefania Carnevale, bachelor in Tecniche Psicologiche
      Department of Humanities
      University Federico II, Naples (Italy)


      Caterina outlined the following process:

      Drawing Voice Technique

      – 5 mins one group discusses a question
      – 3 mins another group discusses responses from group 1
      – 1 min write key words from previous group discussions
      – Change group again. New group to illustrate key words using drawings
      – Share drawings on Facebook so all the class can see
      – Everyone comments on each drawing


      Serdar M. Degirmencioglu European Community Psychology Association President and Carlos Luis Zatarain, B.A.
      Via Educacion (Mexico)


      Carlos gave the following figures for global Internet usage:

      – 39% global internet usage that was predominantly in the West with poorer countries with having less internet access.

      Carlos asserted that social media can facilitate people coming together to make change.

      An example of positive social action:

      #Yoy Soy 132

      This is an Mexico online viral video that students made to revolt against media bias in their political elections. This very much prompted me to ask myself, is this movement privileged by the status of “youth culture” and its acceptability of “youthful protest”?

      An example of where using social media has risks:

      Turkish Protests

      – Protesters experienced harsh treatment by the police
      – They formed a settlement in the park – The protest was broadcast through social media. People witnessed this online and police brutality was recorded
      – Iconic image of woman being water cannoned went viral
      – Psychologists joined the protest in a safe way
      – Social media witnessing providing strong counter narrative to mainstream media and government control

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