Dulwich Creative Weeks
Creative Weeks are memorable annual events at the College that embody the spirit of Free Learning. They offer opportunities to learn free of examination and syllabus, beyond and within the classroom.
Each year in the Michaelmas term a team of departments take the lead and encourage others to collaborate and forge links between disciplines, resulting in a stimulating week of Free Learning at its best. A different subject ‘hijacks’ the school with a series of events designed to engage, challenge and enthuse pupils from the Early Years to the Upper School.
The programmes are different each year but include whole-school activities and opportunities to learn in large and small groups and with pupils from the same and mixed year groups. Typically the weeks include talks, creative pursuits, lectures, lesson hijacks, installations, visits and visitors, with each subject area feeding into the theme of the week.
The inaugural Dulwich Creative Week brought together Art, Drama, Music and DT in a series of events and activities. Boys from the Junior through to the Upper School were involved in workshops, installations, talks and trips - from mosaic and mask-making to street-art and sculpture; singing and flash mobs to Chapel Choir and steel pans; script writing and stage-fighting to open rehearsals and evening readings.
Trips included the art of nature at Kew Gardens, Shakespeare at Stratford, design process at the Institute of Technology, music study at Goldsmiths, and contemporary inspiration at The Design Museum and Tate Modern.
There were a series of events on the 'hijack' theme. Spaces, objects and the College intranet was hijacked. Even the timetable was hijacked when boys collectively created a piece of art for a whole-school exhibition to which every Alleynian contributed. At the end of the week 1,600 clay portraits were displayed in The Store, a room hijacked as a new exhibition and performance space.
The week culminated in a conference and creative careers convention with speakers such as composer David Osborn, artists Craig Wiley and Ben Woodeson, photographer David Clerihew, production designer Patrick Watson, Academy Award-winning producer of Shakespeare in Love David Parfitt, and Technical Director of the National Theatre Katrina Gilroy.
Dulwich Creative is dedicated to the memory of Saagar Naresh (OA 2006-2012), a committed and creative Alleynian who contributed generously to every aspect of College life.
In October 2015 the College celebrated both scientifically and creatively. Dulwich Inventive was driven by the imagination of boys and teachers thinking beyond the confines of individual disciplines, with every pupil in the school being involved in some way – from DUCKS’ liquids workshops to the Upper School’s Fame Lab Finals
Boys heard from over 25 visiting speakers and scientists and worked with them in a variety of workshops and interactive sessions. Visitors included Sir Robert Winston, Dr Lewis Hartnell and Dr Hugh Hunt. The Enigma Machine from Bletchley Park was in school for a day and we were delighted to host the first exhibition of Henry Fraser OA (2008-11) as he made his well-publicised venture into painting.
Every boy was engaged in code-breaking activity, with a new clue being released each day. They became masters of spin, creating paintings while learning about centrifugal force in Art lessons; launched paper aeroplanes in DT at 80 miles per hour from the top of The Laboratory; and in Religion & Theology asked whether scientists could put their trust in God.
While the primary focus was to engage pupils, we also involved parents, former pupils and students from local schools who were invited to see the Science telescope at our star-gazing event and to engage with astronaut Shannon Walker via our live satellite connection on NASA night.
A successful week that got boys thinking about the links between Science and the Arts, Dulwich Inventive represented inspiring, challenging and active learning at its best.
In November 2016, Dulwich Linguistic week saw the whole school crossing frontiers into the languages and cultures of countries beyond the English-speaking world. It challenged linguistic limits, perception of how we see ourselves in a rapidly shrinking world and heightened appreciation of communication in all its forms.
The College became a veritable melting pot of events and activities crossing the imaginary divides between languages, science, music, mathematics, academia, business and sport. Every day engaged boys in a cornucopia of opportunity. During one day for example, boys could make their protest through the creative medium of screen-printing, be transported to Renaissance Italy, learn about the phonetics of ventriloquism or take part in a multi-lingual treasure hunt.
A week such as this would not have been complete without stretching ideas of what language means. Pupils engaged with thought-provoking talks and activities across a wide range of disciplines. Physical challenges included a cycling Tour de Dulwich, a Kung Fu demonstration, a fencing master class in Italian and the Kindergarten and Year 9 formation of the Chinese character for ‘Friend’ – ‘péngyou’ – on the 1st XI outfield that was photographed from the air. Special guests and visiting speakers included Miss Susan Bullock CBE, and journalist and presenter Huw Edwards, who hosted a career-focused Question Time.
There was a sense of linguistic purpose about the College throughout the week, with boys moving from one activity to another and challenging, celebrating and communicating in various ways.
“The week served many different purposes. It was first of all a chance to diversify from the normal curriculum, that can often be constraining, and show that there is more to language than learning vocab and memorising verb endings. The week was also a chance to encourage the study of language and the immersion in a variety of cultures with ideas that are different from our own.” Luke Jensen-Jones, Year 9
“Its effects will stay with the school for a long time. I do wonder what the next November event will be?” James Lyon, Year 9
The aim of Dulwich Political week in November 2017 was to encourage pupils to be thoughtful, informed and active citizens.
In addition to the assemblies and whole year group events that all students attended during the week, pupils were encouraged to have their say, through debating competitions, giving speeches at a ‘Speakers Corner’, contributions to the suggestion boards for what Brexit and the Budget should look like, and a school-wide daily vote on issues from prisoner incarceration to nuclear weapons. Several workshops, talks and debates were joined by pupils from The Charter School in Dulwich and James Allen’s Girls’ School (JAGS).
Special guests and visiting speakers included actor Pip Utton with his thought-provoking performances of Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler; Lionel Barber OA, editor of The Financial Times; James Carson from The Telegraph, Angus Hanton (Intergenerational Foundation); artists Tinsel Edwards, Twinkle Troughton and Anita Kontrec who produced artwork with the boys which encouraged them to express their political views; as well as the Advocacy Academy and Amnesty International.
Justin Webb from the BBC chaired the Question Time panel with Richard Angell (Progress), Lord Robin Butler (Tory peer), Gail Kent (Lib Dem), Siobhan Bailie (Conservative). The charity MyStart, exhibited art works, films, zines and journal extracts created by young refugees from Kakuma camp in Kenya.
The Master rounded off the week with the concluding talk of the three-part lecture series on Political Philosophy. Student and staff not only learned about the ideas of John Stuart Mill, but were challenged to be brave enough to debate ideas openly, and resist the ‘safe space’ culture while acknowledging that the ‘harm principle’ needs to be recognised.