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Date 24.09.2015
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Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas

DEFENDING OUR FASHION EDUCATION PHILOSOPHIES: A CREATIVE CONVERSATION

Dr. Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas Course Leader BA (Hons.) Fashion Marketing, Fashion Business School, London College of Fashion, UAL Teaching Scholar, Senior Fellow HEA

This session challenges participants to ‘nail their creative colours to the fashion mast’ and propose an ideal recipe for a future creative education. Both the fashion industry and fashion education are undergoing a period of tremendous change; digital communications and production, international expansion, ethical and other challenges inherent in the industry which necessitate constant review of our fashion teaching philosophies. The academy can no longer operate within the confines of a 19th century industrial model yet it risks reorganisation from outside agencies and according to political agendas that may not be in its best interest.

Fashion educators are under immense pressure to justify pedagogic practices as they operate in environments subject to auditing and comparison via informal online forums (Rate My Professor, Fashionista.com) and instruments such as National Student Satisfaction rankings.

In the post-industrial knowledge economy creativity is universally and internationally endorsed as a key trait for fashion students and graduates, yet it remains a concept that resists simple definitions; we often assume that an objective quality ‘creativity’ exists that those qualified to judge can recognize (Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). From Guilford (1951) to Torrance (1974) to Florida (2002) measures of creativity developed since the mid twentieth century have taken different approaches to the question of evaluating creativity. Whilst there is now an abundance of literature on creativity, questions remain as to the extent to which creativity is an internal cognitive function or an external socially constructed phenomenon (Radclyffe-Thomas, 2011).

Equally in assessing creativity, different emphases have been placed on whether the process or the product is more valid in defining creativity and whether creativity is a trait a person possesses or a skill that can be taught. So how can we teach creativity and is creativity possible and even desirable across all areas of the fashion curriculum?

Defining something as creative necessitates evaluation and judgements that may vary across time and place (Weiner, 2000) and also across creative disciplines. All societies share a belief in some universal core characteristics of creativity including originality, imagination, intelligence and individuality (Niu & Sternberg, 2002), yet any definition of creativity is problematic where meanings are not static, rather open to interpretation (Radclyffe-Thomas, 2007; 2014). In Jackson and Sinclair’s words: “One of the problems of creativity is that it is difficult to understand and explain”(2006:119).

This session is based on doctoral research into culturally situated concepts of creativity. It invites participants to explore their own implicit understandings of creativity guided by a set of creativity attributes developed from the literature and my research into international understandings of creativity, giving gives participants an opportunity to examine their own ‘recipe’ for creativity and has been reported as an enlightening and informative experience.

Session Outline: Note this is an interactive session.
Keywords: creativity, fashion, pedagogy

 

Natascha Radclyffe-ThomasDr. Natascha Radclyffe-Thomas is an Inaugural University of the Arts London Teaching Scholar and Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Currently Course Leader Leader for BA (Hons). Fashion Marketing at the Fashion Business School, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, Natascha has extensive international experience having taught fashion, both studio-based and theoretical, in the UK, Asia and the US.

Natascha has published and presented papers internationally on research interests including cross-cultural creativity, place marketing, fashion branding, and fashion education pedagogy.

Natascha’s EdD thesis explored implicit concepts of creativity with reference to Western and Confucian heritage cultures and how those culturally situated understandings manifest themselves in fashion education and practice.

Natascha’s recent pedagogic research looks at how countries, cities and institutions enact their creativity-branding agendas and how creativity is understood and taught in the UK and Asia.

Natascha has recently developed CPD materials for international academics on teaching creativity and internationalizing the curriculum.