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Guest blog: Emma Sinclair, Lecturer in Early Years and Childhood Practice, at Inverness College

Saturday Morning Musing...

I love Saturday mornings. Fresh coffee and listening to another Big Juicy Creative podcast.

A busy week, working from home deserves a long lie and a slow, gentle introduction to the weekend. The perfect conditions for planning my Random Acts of Living (RAL) for the week ahead, inspired by my friend and Big Juicy creator Suzy.

Listening to the Big Juicy Creative podcast has made me think more deeply about the concept of creativity. I do feel I am an innately creative being. I have a love for music, I have an impressive ability to sing along to lyrics of random songs with little idea of who the singer is, or how I even memorised the songs in the first place. I will very occasionally search out my pencils and take to drawing trees again, usually inspired by my long walks with my dogs in the beautiful Cairngorms and distinct memories of a charismatic but slightly unhinged Art teacher from my old school days.

Creativity goes beyond the realms of music and art, it is an act that promotes thinking, feeling, doing and reflecting. It involves creating thoughts and experiences for oneself as well as others, as actor and coach Jennifer Blaine explained in the Big Juicy Creative Podcast, episode 4.

I have always focused on promoting the importance of creativity for children and young people in my work. Inspired by the magnificent Sir Ken Robinson, who will be deeply missed but will continue to further inspire generations of people. Supporting creativity in children and young people involves providing nurturing, loving environments with opportunities to think freely; to problem-solve; to play, explore and discover; to make mistakes and learn from them.

I was heartened to hear Suzy and Jennifer Blaine talk about the importance of creativity in education. With an increasing pressure on children and young people to ‘catch up’ on learning since returning to school after lockdown, there is a concern that the focus on ‘catching up’ may squeeze out opportunities for play-inspiring creativity. With increasing concerns over the mental health of our children and young people, surely now is the time to put creativity at the heart of learning. Numeracy and literacy are embedded in everything we do. As Jennifer Blaine said ‘Children are more than their scores’.

I am most inspired and creative when I am out playing in nature. From my early years, growing up in rural Wales, I have felt a connectedness with nature and trees, in particular. I am partial to swimming in Scottish lochs or trail running through the hills and local pine woodlands.

The Big Juicy Creative podcast (episode 3) featuring Lynbreck Croft farmer, Lynn Cassells definitely struck a chord with me. It further promoted the importance of being in tune with nature but more importantly having the courage and creativity to take a risk in following your dreams. I was inspired by Lynn and her partner's confidence and openness to make a career change and learn their craft by doing.

My forester husband despairs at my lack of ability to identify different tree species (in which he has tried to teach me for over 20 years!) But I have learned to overcome my ‘FOMOOK’ (fear of missing out on knowledge) as Suzy suggests and I simply enjoy the emotive experience of being in nature.

I often associate creativity with friendship. People close to me inspire me. I can withdraw at times, depending on what my preoccupations are. I have a tendency to be an all or nothing kind of person. I easily lose touch with my friends for periods of time, but in my head they are always there. I am lucky to have the kind of friends that, even if I haven’t seen them for weeks or months on end, I can meet with them as if it was only yesterday that I saw them last.

I am actively inspired when I am with my friends. I find myself working towards goals alongside them – whether that is reading the next book club book choice or training for the next triathlon (you know who you are). Often my creativity is at its best when I am engaged in something fun and playful with my friends.

Another Big Juicy Podcast that inspired me was Suzy’s first interview with the local artist Ann Vastano. I was delighted to listen to how her artwork is an extension of herself – her feelings, her experiences and connection to place. Ann Vastano embodies colour and grace and her suggestion to ‘dress to how you want to feel’ has inspired me to bring more colour into my life.

I have always been attracted to the colour yellow. I think I associate the colour yellow with sunshine and warmth. It has a physical effect on me – it instantly brightens my spirit and makes me happy. I am curtailed by my family, however, when it comes to decorating my house. I am happy to retreat to my one yellow room in the house, which is my study, where I currently work from home during the pandemic.

Obviously, my work as a lecturer in Early Years and Childhood Practice is a part of my life that requires me to be creative. However, there are times where we move into automatic pilot, getting the job done in the way it’s always been done. Time constraints and capacity can hinder the creative process. I need to remember to make time and space in my week to reflect and develop myself and my knowledge.

I have a tendency to buy inspiring books on play and learning in the early years or on inspiring teaching and learning but many of them end up on the bookcase unread and dusty.

Inspired by the Big Juicy Creative movement, I officially commit to finding time and space, in my busy schedule, to follow my work-interests and expand my brain on a weekly basis.

Again, I can honestly say that I am surrounded by a team of professional friends and a strong community of practice that inspire and support me (you know who you are).

As I write this, the imposter in me is thinking ‘this is not good enough’ and ‘I need to back this up with informative links and in-text referencing’ but I correct myself and, inspired by Dr Alice Mongiello, I will put thoughts of imposter syndrome aside, take an emotional risk, don’t over-think and post my thoughts.

Anyway, this is my Saturday morning musing, while I drink coffee and is definitely not meant to be an academic piece of work.

Back to planning my Random Act of Living (RAL) for the day. A cold-water dip in Loch Insh it is then.

Emma Sinclair. 26th September 2020.

The blog was first published on Emma's blog here.

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