Welcome to the website of Susan M. Coles, Artist & Arts, Creativity & Educational Consultant.

Posted in Hope for the Future

I will be really honest. I don’t rate New Year. I don’t like the thought, that people have, that you can wipe a slate clean and start again. History tells us differently. I am a great admirer of Lewis Mumford, One of the better-known studies of Mumford is of the way the mechanical clock was developed by monks in the Middle Ages and subsequently adopted by the rest of society. He viewed this device as the key invention of the whole Industrial Revolution, contrary to the common view of the steam engine holding the prime position, writing: “The clock, not the steam-engine, is the key-machine of the modern industrial age. The clock is a piece of power-machinery whose ‘product’ is seconds and minutes.” Time is something we humans created, an artefact, to measure and keep track of the events in our day. The animals live by seasons, the trees and the plants do the same. But, we live purely by the clock, and our own awareness of the ticking clock makes humans conscious of their own mortality. An interesting thought.
Find out about Lewis Mumford

So, that’s out of the way and now I’m thinking of what I did achieve in the last twelve months. I have continued to advocate for art craft and design education and, beyond that, for creative education and for a broad and balanced curriculum offer for ALL children. I have been delighted to see the growth of the anti English Baccalaureate movement, read and hear the speeches, see the letters and petitions, watch the select committee as they “grill” Mister Gove. I have been frustrated at his continued inability to listen to any voice other than his own and his constant carping at and criticism of teachers. I dislike the unprofessional way that he uses his journalist mindset to “leak” his thoughts to the newspapers as a kind of camouflage to what is really going on. I am annoyed at his lack of empathy for those who simply can’t achieve what he sees as a minimum expectation for young learners. I have used this blog space previously, to explain my own school years being blighted by exams and subjects I didn’t respond to. I really understand what it is like to be the ones left behind.

I can’t fail to be excited that, from January 1st, I will step into the shoes of many honourable people who have gone before me, when I take over the Presidency of the National Society for Education in Art and Design. I don’t expect that I will follow exactly the same path as others but it will be a real honour to carry on such an important role and tradition. I intend to give this my all, and to work alongside people who have the same values as myself, to promote and defend what we believe in. I owe thanks to the people who had the confidence in me when they cast their votes and I promise to try to live up to your expectations.
NSEAD website

Our All Party Parliamentary Group on Art, Craft and Design Education will have it’s first meeting in March 2013. This will give us chances to highlight our concerns with people who have access to policy makers and whom have offered us both support and a listening ear. So much is owed to Sharon Hodgson MP and team here, plus our many NSEAD colleagues.

My work (in all it’s diverse ways) continues and I have several Conference dates in the first part of 2013 which will help me to share what I do and hopefully to spread the word. I work with such lovely people all the time and appreciate that so much. Every time I attend a NEATEN (North East Art Teacher Educator Network) event, I feel like I have had a collective group hug! I’m not getting younger (back to Mumford’s clock thinking again!) but as long as I have the energy to go on, then I surely will. I hope to take on some new challenges this year too, so I don’t get too complacent. One of these is becoming a community school governor at Seascape Primary School in Peterlee.

The TEA (Thinking, Expression, Action) national drawing CPD programme continues and the collaborative sketch book circle project kicks off for us on the 1st of January. This will really help those who have signed up to keep up their artistic practice going when they return to a very busy term at school. I have met some incredible art educators through this programme and am in awe at their enthusiasm and dedication. The passion which they show is the passion that makes them excellent teachers and role models for the young people that they work with. No matter what this government throws at them, that passion might be dented, cracked and chipped….but it will mend and survive, and eventually thrive. I firmly believe that. People have made art for many thousands of years, nothing….but nothing is going to stop that.

No resolutions then….don’t believe in them but I should try harder to blog every week! And, if you do read this blog, I hope it contains messages that make you think.


Lucy M

4218 days ago

You will make a good president because you have such strong beliefs. I think we all have a lot to learn from you about being more positive. Getting involved, joining NSEAD, writing letters, getting on the coalition’s nerves. Yes, that’s the way to go. Happy 2013.

Amanda S

4216 days ago

Such an inspiring blog! what an amazing start to the year, I agree with Lucy’s comments and thank you for inspiring me Susan, within in my profession and giving hope to the younger generation to fight for a brighter future. Best wishes for 2013.

Midlands Girl

4216 days ago

yes yes yes. Agree with you all the way. No matter what they chuck at us we shall overcome (isn’t that a song?), anyway, we shall. I am new to NSEAD and look forward to being in the“gang” this year.

Elaine M.

4216 days ago

Your enthusiasm, commitment and support are wonderful, Susan, and you maintain a positive outlook without denying reality. Your generous spirit and exceptional advocacy for Art and creativity will serve us all well. Mind you, it could be a bit of a dragon slayer’s mission for you, fraught with danger and demons – Good luck!

Esther Kershaw

4193 days ago

Susan, congratulations! You are indeed an amazing advocate for art craft and design education, for creative education and for a broad and balanced curriculum offer for ALL children. Thankyou for being here to fight the cause… I look forward to seeing you at some point soon. Best wishes and good luck! x


4192 days ago

Thanks for the voices of support everyone!

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