DARE Roundtable with Conor Roche

8 Nov 2012, London Knowledge Lab

The round table was convened by the research consortia DARE – Digital Arts Research Education and Clore Fellow Conor Roche. His task is to research practices in crossover projects between the arts and technology so as to inform a new ICT curriculum.

Present were:

Andrew Burn
John Potter
Anton Franks ioe
Andy Ash ioe
Gerard Brisco
Andy Jones – media studies teacher & Adobe Youth Voices Co-ordinator
Mark Reid
Maya Gabrielle – National Theatre digital content producer, royal opera house
Connor Roche – Roundhouse & NESTA Clore fellowship arts and computer science (works with Lizzie Crump Cultural Learning Allicance)
Evelyn Wilson – Director Culture Capital Exchange & Creativeworks London

The research proposes “to ensure that the new curriculum supports the skills, knowledge, competencies and understanding that young people require to potentially work in the creative and cultural industries through computer science. We also want to ensure that it effectively enables young people to apply their imagination and creative aptitude” by looking at “international cutting edge examples of creativity in computer science learning, we will explore ways that we can incorporate this learning into the new curriculum structure through creative educational programmes.”

Somehow I identified a kind of dissonance between a) what’s actually required for ‘curriculum reform featuring computer programming’ to take place and b) Roche’s and DARE’s imperative to research/deliver cutting edge technical/arts projects. Curriculum reform necessitates less short-term one-off exclusive projectism while the others actively seek it. I’m not saying they’re mutually exclusive – maybe the one needs to inspire the other? Roche asserted that he’s not an educator – he’s a former computer programmer with an artistic leaning – hence his job at the Roundhouse. I’m wondering if his approach – that of going to the top end of the pyramid (cultural legacy pyramid?) – to seek out the cutting edge projects is a knee-jerk reaction of the non-educator? The idea of cascading such projects down to the bottom of the pyramid is mind-bogglingly complex…. I said the approach is skewed from the start and should be looking at what’s achievable … i.e. starting from the bottom up and more importantly getting input from young people as well as ‘consultants’.

I urged for a re-think of ICT, an acronym that should be vaporized in favour of Communication and Design. And computer programming should hang off the Design element. This approach would encourage socio-cultural dimensions and integrate programming into a contextualised space. Roche said it’s not possible to associate comp. prog. with Communication. I suggested it’s just another language and therefore just as subject to issues of representation.

Other points that came up:

– need to re-brand the computer programmer image, perhaps even change the name of ‘computer science’ which alienates certain groups

– Burn brought up C P Snow’s Two Cultures and outrageous omission of media and digital arts rom the Henley Culture review and the continued need to bridge the schism between arts/humanities and science/technology

– how much was the research framed around the needs of the creative industries and how much around building a dual model that gets incorporated into the national curriculum enabling even programming ‘for all’ rather than those who routinely get on board with out of hours / extracurricular projects

– recent debates about luminaries of the arts world coming together over the exclusion of arts & humanities subjects from the core EBacc curriculum. Talk of facilitating an event so that these luminaries might come together and talk about their formative years and how they got to be where they are now. This is with a view to advocate for the arts in EBacc. Jaron Lanier’s name came up as a controversial figure who might be worth approaching. I suggested there should be some ‘youth voice’ if this event got off the ground. Sometimes the ones for whom everyone is acting are forgotten. Get Observer/ FT involved in a manifesto on education and technology

– Maya Gabrielle says that the National Theatre is way behind on digital content in shows and perhaps NT should be at the forefront but this is because of its conservative audience and their preferences (rather reminiscent of current conservative, retrograde education policies … )

– Andy Jones told us about Adobe Youth Voices – enthusiastic supporter in spite of clear commercial advantages to Adobe in the project’s development – where do corporations fit into the cultural/educational matrix in terms of content provision?

– Need to broaden definition of literacy … TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) project isolates computer science from broader literacy requirements / lived experience of ICT- ghettoisation of ICT

– Mention of Alan Turing and his original humanist project to ‘model nature’.


– Problem with orientation towards skills

– No such thing as neutral funding

– Being, knowing and doing as a useful model of education

One comment

  1. Pingback: Record of Research Training & Engagement | Making is Learning

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