A Lightbulb Moment at Glendale

June 24, 2021
Shona McGregor
Jude McIntyre


School: Glendale Primary School

Year Group: 3/4

Teacher: Jude McIntyre

Creative Practitioner: Shona McGregor

Creative Practice: Visual Artist

It was a Thursday and I was getting ready to head to that day’s session of the Creative Schools program, when I received an excitable text message from my Creative Schools partner, teacher Jude McIntyre at Glendale Primary School. “Have a wee look at a YouTube called Austin’s Butterfly! Collaboration, critical feedback, persistence … the kids are watching it now!” I quickly found the video online and six minutes and thirty-two seconds later I realised we had found one of the keys to unlocking our students’ creative bravery.

We had spent the previous twelve sessions of our quest for creative teaching and learning, exploring Glendale Primary with our five senses in hands on activities that ranged from, taking textural rubbings of the surfaces we found around the school, to recording the sounds that we heard while walking through the grounds. We had created postcards for the surrounding community to mail back memories of the school over the last 50 years and explored every aspect of the bushland that surrounded the classrooms. Ultimately, we decided to amalgamate all our findings into a class installation for friends and family alike and the year 3/4 students were quick to choose the various aspects they wanted to recreate in the class’ neglected reading nook.

Birds were high on the student’s list as the school was inundated with parrots, wattle birds and magpies all day long and were an integral part of the fabric of the school. Recreating them, however, had proven to be a little tricky and it was clear that we needed to take a different tact. Watching the Austin’s Butterfly video clarified this for us. Seeing educator, Rob Berger, speak to his group of students about creating several drafts of a drawing after asking your classmates for feedback and really looking with a critical eye at the object you are trying to recreate, resounded loud and clear with our students and it wasn’t long before the transformation began right in front of our eyes.

For the rest of our project we used this process to give the children agency over their own creativity. They were able to use each other as sounding boards to change and improve their creations without feeling judged or inferior to others and they were able to see that they were capable of much more than they anticipated if they took the time to slow down and be persistent when things become difficult. Needless to say, the birds became a highlight of the installation and a catalyst for change for us all.☯