Spotlight on Research – Viv John

viv-john-photoViv John, Secondary PGCE Programme Director, leads the 14 PGCE secondary courses here at Cardiff Met and is also studying for a Doctorate in Education (EdD) at CMU.  Her subject and her teaching experience have inspired her research.

A bit of background

At heart, Viv is a performer (flute, piano and voice). She studied music at Goldsmiths, London, and trained to teach at the Institute of Education (IoE), London.  The philosophy of active learning that she valued there has stayed with her throughout her teaching career.   After an initial teaching foray in Brentford, she was drawn back home to South Wales, first to Whitchurch High and then as head of music at St Joseph’s in Newport. Her next ‘adventure’ was unique – setting up the education programme at the newly opened Wales Millennium Centre, providing educational opportunities across the age range, from toddlers to pensioners.

Research focus

Viv’s doctoral studies focus on the ‘slippery concept of creativity’, and in particular she challenges the received wisdom that musicians must be creative by virtue of their subject.  Her research explores music student teachers’ perceptions of their creativity as musicians, and investigates how their creative capacities can be developed in the classroom.  She works with beginning teachers who come from a wide range of musical backgrounds – e.g. classical, jazz, pop – and is unpicking their notions of creativity, exploring how far creative musicians make creative teachers.

Creative research

In the second year of her EdD, Viv is beginning the data collection phase.  Because her focus is creativity, she is drawing on creative approaches to data gathering herself.  She plans a series of workshops to explore the nature of creativity in music, followed by tracking students’ creative progression through their placements.

Interestingly, Viv also wants her students to be co-researchers, so that ‘it’s not just done to them, but done with them’.  Such collaborative activity should support an understanding of the concept and also aid the students’ own development as researchers. It is a bold and potentially very valuable approach.

Creativity has been brought to the fore in education in Wales within the ongoing school curriculum review, and Viv’s work may well have significance for teachers of all subjects, not just music.  We look forward to seeing the results of this creative research project.

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