On 11th June the creative writing and drama students from Glenochil Prison Learning Centre hosted a creative conversation as part of College Development Network’s The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas.
This was the culmination of a six week drama/Scottish Studies project in which students explored aspects of labeling and learning in Scotland through drama and writing processes.
The students performed a powerful piece of theatre and then hosted five separate conversations, based on topics of particular relevance to them in an open space format.
The aim of the final creative conversation was to be able to explore a range of crucial questions in a creative and innovative way with a range of participants from within and out-with the prison.
- Are labels self-fulfilling?
- When are labels useful, needed or important?
- Positive learning in prison vs negative/sensationalist labels in the media
- Is personal growth as important as gaining qualifications in learning?
- Prisons learning and progression – how to progress on release with an offender label.
Following the event students wrote up their findings and identified areas that could be developed further by themselves, the Learning Centre or other parties.
Who was involved?
The project was delivered by New College Lanarkshire, Glenochil Prison Learning Centre and Scottish Prison Service.
Participants included students: fellow prisoners, prison learning manager, prison psychologist, prison chaplain, offender outcomes manager, lecturers from other prisons, artists, criminal justice researcher and Business Gateway representative.
What core skills were developed?
Students developed questions for the final event through performance, presentation, drama, reflection and writing processes.
The final performance/conversation event required all participants to challenge preconceptions, raise questions and explore potential solutions to problems with open and enquiring minds.
Performers had to be prepared for potential hostility from an audience who may have very different ideas/experiences to their own; they had to develop strategies to facilitate conversations that may include points of view they might disagree with. Likewise, guest participants had to be open to the lived experiences and emotions of the performers as well as to views they may disagree with.
According to participant feedback and learner reflections, the following characteristics were developed:
- Motivated and ambitious for change for the better, including in their own capabilities
- Confident in the validity of their own viewpoint
- Able to apply creative processes to other situations
- Able to lead and work well with others
What impacts did the project have?
The project has had the following impacts on participants, students and staff:
- More engaged learners
- More understanding and support for this kind of work within the prison
- Expressions of interest in future collaborations across agencies both within and outwith the prison – eg. learners suggested a similar event could be held with trainee social workers
- Staff learned not to be scared to do new things, to contextualize work appropriately and to ask for support when necessary
An unexpected outcome was that prison staff from other departments engaged positively with the whole project, enhancing processes across the board.
You can contact College Development Network here:
01786 892 000