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LIGHTSON! / #1 - February 2017




It feels wonderful to be launching our first issue of Lights On! that brings together so many creative, inspiring and darn right fantastic people all in one place - it’s like the best party ever, right here between these covers, and we’re so glad you’re here! It’s our mission at Explorium to provide opportunities for every young person to be learning with their lights on, fully engaged and exploring their passions. The reason this is so important is made very clear in What’s The Story (P16) where young people tell it like it is from within the education system and confront us with a challenging and provocative message we simply can’t afford to ignore. We’d also like to introduce you to emerging talent Ollie who talks with photographer Barry Cawston (P42-45) and chooses his favourite pictures from Barry’s recent book Are We There Yet? And just before we get Wired For Learning (P32), let’s meet changemaker and originator of x10 Thinking, Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson. I learned so much from the wisdom and practical advice he very generously shares in this interview by Esme (P12). At Lights On! we want to host the conversations you’d like to get involved with, tell the stories you’ll remember and spark debate wherever we can. There’s so much more inside this issue, but I’m off to mingle now, so you’ll just have to discover it for yourselves. Enjoy!

Corinne Join the conversation and get noisy with us

@Explorium4Cs #LightsOn!



Contributors Meet the team.

p 4-5 The Bigger Picture

Founder of Explorium, Julia Black, introduces the Lights On approach.

p 8-11 ChangermakeR INsights

Interview with Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, creator of the school of thinking and the first person ever to receive a PhD in lateral thinking.

p 12-15

What’s the Story?

Young people tell it like it is from within the education system.

P 16-31

Wired For Learning What does it mean to be Wired for Learning? Find out here...

p 32-35 A Shot in the dark

Interview with photographer Barry Cawston.

p 42-45 The Spark

Life as the ultimate learning experience.

p 46-47

the future is bright Explorium learners tell us how it feels to be learning with their Lights On.

p 48-51





Julia Black


Founder of Explorium


The Bigger PicturE p8-11


Who or what has inspired you most in your life so far?

Who or what has inspired you most in your life so far?

Tell us about your most recent exciting creative project.

Tell us about your most recent exciting creative project.

My father was my big hero. He had this incredible way of pushing me and my sister beyond our comfort zone. Importantly though he never made us feel like we were ‘failures’ even though we failed massively because of the size of his challenges! Throughout his life he did things differently to others and made it really clear to me to follow my own dreams, not someone else’s.

I’ve loved being back with my documentary director’s hat on. I can’t help but see life as a collection of short stories. So interviewing some of our learners and helping them use their voice to make a difference has been a real pleasure. I’ve also got to work with my old creative team, Beccy Strong, as camerawoman, and Darren Flaxstone, as editor, and that has been a real treat.

What switches on your lights?

I’ve come to realise that I LOVE solving problems by side stepping laterally. It is that moment when I see something from a totally different angle to other people in the room and I have to try to get them to see what I can see.

There are so many different figures in so many different areas. Most recently, it’s Neymar Junior, he’s a footballer, and the reason he stands out is that he risks stuff to win. He’s unique and he’ll risk things, playing it like a game and not like a job. I’m inspired by people who stand out from the crowd and do something that isn’t the usual, but something amazing.

I don’t know about recent, but I’m looking forward to going to my most favourite place in the world, Plymouth. There’s sea, the streets, the culture. I love it there. I’m going to take some photos and know exactly where I’m going to go and hopefully that’ll turn into something.

What switches on your lights?

Uniqueness. I like stuff that hasn’t been done before, that surprises and interests me. If I try to think about something, there’s a block, but if I draw, just move my hand on the page, doing something fun, in that zone, I might notice something and get inspired and that leads to a great idea.






Changemaker Insights P12-15

Graphic Design for Lights On!

Who or what has inspired you most in your life so far?

Who or what has inspired you most in your life so far?

Obviously, there are a few celebrities who inspire me, but it’s mainly my family. My mum (of course!) but also my Grandad who founded Marie Stopes International. And as well, my Dad is a successful film maker who has pursued his passion. I think coming from a family like this has really helped me understand not only how I want to live my life, but also how to achieve it.

Tell us about your most recent exciting creative project.

For the past few months, I have been working on making a dress, using a fabric base but covered with book pages. It has taken a VERY long time, and I have a lot of pinpricks all over my fingers, but I’m so excited about what it will look like when it’s done. At the moment, I have nearly completed the skirt, having sewn over 420 paper triangles on, and I have learnt how to use a sewing machine from scratch. When it is finished, I will be sure to put a picture of it in the next issue of Lights On! so look out!

What switches on your lights?

Several of the things I love to do include writing stories, being creative, looking after animals, nutrition and also solving problems. Put any of these into the mix, and my lights will definitely be on!

My main inspiration in my life was my mother. She was very good at seeing potential in people and in things that others couldn’t. She used to buy dilapidated antiques and restore them back to their former glory. It taught me from a very early age to always see the potential in everything and this has really helped me through my life.

Tell us about your most recent exciting creative project.

Working in the creative field I do get my creative needs satisfied on a regular basis, however working with an open brief with no rules to create something that inspires people is always exciting. Doing the creative design for Lights On! has been that for me. I love to create and inject my magic into projects that are redefining and pushing the boundaries.

What switches on your lights?

I get my most creative ideas when my mind is peaceful and quiet. From a very early age I loved to be in nature, walking through a forest or sitting by a waterfall. Being in nature with my family and my dog Santos is my favourite.



Every day our current education system expects children to park who they are at the school gates. Julia Black, founder of explorium


» The Coat, Napoli’ by Barry Cawston






» Julia Black & her daughter Esme, who planted the seed for Explorium.

Learning is a really exciting process with moments of clarity and brightness as well as darker times when it is impossible to see a way through.

I’m a great believer that when you are on the right path for you, opportunities arise just when you need them to help another piece of the puzzle slot into place. Our first issue of Lights On! is one of those opportunities for us to explore what can happen if, as adults and children, we can share our hopes, our dreams and our visions for what learning throughout our lifetime could look like if we dare to think big, and if we choose to think differently. It was nearly 6 years ago when my daughter, aged 7, came to me and started to complain her learning was fenced in. As she moved up through the primary education system she became increasingly bored, frustrated and angry. As a mother I decided to do something about it when, age 9, she told me, ‘You may as well be sending me to prison every day’.


» Julia Black leading the circus that won her team of volunteers the NCPTA Gold Star Reward in 2010.

Our children now typically spend 14 years of their lives in education so we have plenty of time to help them succeed. Yet 40% of our children leave being labelled ‘a failure’. So what is going on? And more importantly, what is going wrong?

Our children now typically spend 14 years of their lives in education so we have plenty of time to help them succeed. Yet 40% of our children leave being labelled a failure’. It seems obvious to me that if we give children time to explore and discover their strengths, immersing them in learning that helps them master their talents, then they will leave our education system with a different label. Social entrepreneur, innovator, disruptor (in the good sense of the word), adventurer, imagineer, explorer... Then they can hold their heads up high, look around them and make informed and exciting decisions as to where they head as they enter the world of work. Our communities, our economy and our future can only benefit from that, surely?





The question I would ask you is: should our children journ through 14 years of education with their lights on or off?


» Julia’s daughter, Esme, aged 7, when she began to complain her learning was being fenced in.




Learning is a really exciting process with moments of clarity and brightness as well as darker times when it is impossible to see a way through. It’s being pushed to the edges of our ability, experiencing setbacks and then tasting those moments of success. For me, that is what learning is all about. But nothing is as easy in practice as it sounds in theory, which is why I think innovation in education is so slow to spread. It’s easy to talk. It’s easy to condemn those getting it ‘wrong’. It is even easy to imagine how things should be. But it is really hard to get it right. The moment things go wrong our knee-jerk reaction is to retreat back to safety - it’s our amygdala getting active! That’s when my personal strengths kick in, as when things go wrong I want to make them right. But that never involves going back. It is always forwards, keeping what did work, throwing in new elements and, most importantly, discarding what didn’t work. As I discover more about myself as a parent, an innovator, an educationalist and as a social entrepreneur, the closer we get to creating an Explorium culture that is authentic to the core. The closer we get to answering the question ‘What makes our business unique?’ For me, our first year was about confirming who we definitely were not! Our second year was about consolidating who we are and as we now enter our fourth year we can at last see who we can truly become. What has kept us on track, even when we’ve nearly derailed at times, is our strong vision of our ‘authentic self’. We might not have known how to fully express

ourselves, or how we should look, but we’ve had a strong compass planted deep in our core. One of our learners, Ollie, age 13, recently said to me, ‘The person I want to be has never made it into school’. This makes me mad. Ollie’s imagination is one of his biggest assets. I like the fact he thinks differently to others. I like the quirkiness he can’t fully get away from. But, just like my daughter who planted the seed for Explorium, who Ollie really is, wants to be and can be, is being fenced in, held back and quashed. Every day our current education system expects children to park who they are at the school gates. At age 4 they have to start playing a game that they don’t understand at first but very quickly pick up. You stand in line. You put your hand up if you want to speak. You sit quietly and get on with your work. You try to please. You try to get onto the ‘blue’ table, or the ‘triangle’ table and to get 10 out of 10 for your spellings. You get punished if you don’t conform. You come to realise there are only a few adults you can question. So you stop questioning. Everything you are interested in has to wait for the hours between 4pm and 8.30 am, but of course you’re asleep for much of that time. I have never stopped questioning, thanks to my parents, and I’m a great believer that there are some questions that once we answer them we can’t go back. The question I would ask you is: should our children journey through 14 years of education with their lights on or off? I’m clear about my answer. What’s yours?


» Julia & her son Seb, who is a full-time Explorium learner.

It’s easy to talk. It’s easy to condemn those getting it ‘wrong’. It is even easy to imagine how things should be. But it is really hard to get it right.

What does Lights On mean to you? We'd love to know. Click here to take our survey and help us spread #LightsOn through the education system.


Changemaker Insights

In our first of a series of interviews with inspiring entrepreneurs, Explorium learner Esme (13), talks to Michael HewittGleeson, founder of the School of Thinking and author of ‘x10 Thinking’, about how he started out and what switches on his lights.

Insight A


Interview by Esme (13)

s the writer responsible for the Changemaker column, I’m in the lucky position of being able to meet some incredibly inspiring people. Since being at Explorium, I’ve had lots of great opportunities to pursue what I love to do - writing, being creative, problem solving and coming up with ideas. So doing this is really up my street! To kick off the first issue, we are going down under all the way to Australia, with Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson who is the founder of the School of Thinking. I felt really inspired after hearing what he had to say. Read on and see what you think!


The School of Thinking motto is: No-one is ever born a skilled thinker.

Q You came up with the phrase ‘x10 thinking’, so what gave you the inspiration for it? A For thirty years I have been

spreading the x10 meme through books, blogs and x10 thinking enterprise solutions. Occasionally I am asked about the origin of x10 Thinking. As you no doubt know, Powers of 10 is long established in mathematics. I’ve always been fascinated by the phenomenon of tenpower and have included it as a key topic in most of my books. Thirty years ago I first wrote about CVS 2 BVS in my book NewSell (p 137, Boardroom Books, 1984 New York) that: “The BVS is always ten times better than the CVS”. Or, “BVS = CVS x10”* *(For those of us who might be scratching our heads here, this means ‘Better View of the Situation = Current View of the Situation x10’! Ed) Later, I wrote about the googol (10 raised to the power of 100) and the googolplex as exotic examples of tenpower in my best-seller Software For the Brain (1989). And again in 2012 in English Thinking: The Three Methods. I was first to apply powers of ten in neuroscience as a simple but powerful way of escaping

from the established patterns of inside the square thinking to outside the square thinking and coined the term ‘x10 Thinking’. In 2000, I wrote it all up in what has been called the ‘gospel of x10: The x10 Memeplex: Multiply Your Business By Ten! (Prentice Hall). However, I was originally inspired by the Charles and Ray Eames movie – Powers of Ten – which I bought to screen at SOT instructor classes in New York. I was first shown the movie while doing speaking engagements in Monte Carlo for IBM Europe in the mid-80s. This brilliant Eames thought experiment is now online. It’s a classic!

Watch Ray Eames 'Powers of Ten'.

Q You run the school of thinking, so what was your ‘thinking’ behind that? A When I returned from

the war in Vietnam as a national serviceman, I was shocked at the treatment we received from both Australians and Americans, our own countrymen, who had conscripted us to go there in the first place. I felt (as young 20 year old boys who didn’t

even have the right to vote) that we had not only been exploited but also betrayed. I decided the only protection that young people in future could have against this kind of thing would be if they were much better thinkers. We had been taught advanced thinking skills in our military leadership training and I saw the amazing effect. So I began to design a training system that removed the martial context and just taught the thinking and leadership skills to anyone who was interested in these things. This month the School of Thinking celebrated its 37th Anniversary.

Q How do you think that the current educational landscape needs to change to meet the needs of the ever developing 21st century? A Education is better when it

is more focused on learning than teaching. This is already well underway. Most teachers are already engaged in this strategy.


Changemaker Insights

‘Education is better when it is more focused on learning than teaching.’

dr michael hewittgleeson ‘If your education could be reduced to knowing how to ask only one question, then I would say that question should be: Is it true?’

Q How do you teach thinking? A We aim to teach

metacognition, which is ‘thinking about thinking’. We also aim to demonstrate that thinking is not a gift but an acquired skill that can be learned and developed through lessons and practice, like volley-ball, guitar, chess or cooking a soufflé. We explain that if the brain is a very powerful necktop computer (which it is) we also need

to upgrade our brain software from 2500 yearold Greco-Roman Logic to more recent advances in cognitive science. We teach ‘software for the brain’ and ‘brain apps’. One of our most powerful brain apps is: x10 thinking.

Q Why do you think that lateral thinking is important? A The missionaries of

the medieval Church spread Greco-Roman Logic around the world—

the right/wrong system— which is very good at judgment. But it is not enough. Today, we call this ‘inside-the-square thinking’. However, in a postDarwinian, fastchanging and hi-tech environment we may also need ‘outside-thesquare thinking’. Lateral Thinking is very useful for this kind of disruptive, pattern-breaking, innovation. I have the first PhD in the world in Lateral Thinking, so I’m in favour of it!


Q What advice would you give me as a young person with 5 years left in education? A If your education could be reduced

to knowing how to ask only one question, then I would say that question should be: Is it true? I was once contacted by a young man in London who is a teacher/coach and personal trainer/consultant. He is in the early stages of his career and he sought my advice. He asked me this question: What makes a great teacher? That is a very good question. It’s exactly the question he should be asking as he embarks on this vocation. My response to him was this: While there are many things that can make a teacher a much better one there is one non-negotiable, one litmus test, which defines a great teacher. This test is about how the teacher’s performance stacks up to the BIG question: IS IT TRUE? Is what the teacher is teaching a TRUTH or a LIE? The answer to this question is what sorts out the frauds from the professors. If this test is passed then the teacher can be a great teacher if not then the teacher will always be a failure…in my view. Make sure, Esme, that you can ask and get a good answer to the question: Is it true?

Q You helped Explorium consolidate its ‘lights on’ measure, so our question for you is what switches on your lights? A Having an interaction, a discussion, like this with a young brain like yours and having the chance to discuss your questions is my favourite lights-on experience. It makes my day! Thank you :-)

‘thinking is not a gift but an acquired skill that can be learned and developed through lessons and practice, like volley-ball, guitar, chess or cooking a soufflé.’


‘It is through the fictions and stories we tell ourselves and others that we live the life, hide from it, harmonise it, canalise it, have a relationship with it, shape it, accept it, are broken by it, or flow with the life...When we have made an experience or a chaos into a story we have transformed it, made sense of it, transmuted experience, domesticated the chaos...’ Ben Okri


What’s the Story? All photographs by Beccy Strong

Corinne Williams on how the stories we tell about ourselves shape our lives, shape our futures.



Stories are naturally wild & unpredictable.


hey can shock, surprise, keep us awake and wondering at night, and if they’re going to capture our attention, teach and transform us and be useful in the world, they should.

When I began teaching 20 years ago, most of the new 11 year olds who joined the school possessed an unselfconscious enthusiasm for life and learning. Most were living within a personal story that had room for adventure and laughter and feeling alive. After a while something changed, and after months of sitting in the same seat with the same people, in the same uniform, being funnelled towards arbitrary goals that didn’t really seem to take the truth of who anyone was into account, the optimistic shine seemed to dull a little. And that was just me... I moved on from teaching after a few years, feeling I wanted to work with young people in other creative ways and in different environments. As a writer and performance poet, my work became very much about creating space for the stories we all carry within us to be heard and celebrated, and I saw close up just how transforming and empowering that could be. We would explore questions like ‘What’s the story you’re telling about yourself, and your life? Where did that story come from?’ and ask ‘Maybe it’s time to unravel and rewrite that story into one that feels a bit more like ‘you’?’ Techniques like meditation and body awareness practices also slowed down our racing minds, and helped us change our reading of the world as a threatening, boring or depressing place and see it from a different angle as potentially interesting and creative. It was all about waking up to our power as creative agents in our own lives. We know how powerful a word or a look from another can be, how it can encourage us to flourish

19 underground, but I have a feeling they’ll find a way out eventually, exploding sometimes. The true story of who you are and what you’re meant to be doing in the world cannot happily be denied! And this is sort of good news, but why wait? As adults working alongside young people in education we have a responsibility to ask, ‘So, who are you? What’s your story?’, and then give ourselves time to listen. We can then create learning experiences informed by what we hear, responsive to individual passions and talents. Only then can the education system become truly useful to any of us. What our world needs now more than ever are young people truly in touch with their own creativity, power and life force. Sounds a bit much? Well, maybe to those who see education through a certain lens, young people truly living out their own unique stories might seem a bit threatening, unmanageable and unruly.

or completely cut us down. The well-known 60s research project led by psychologist Robert Rosenthal revealed how teachers’ expectations completely altered the course of their students’ development. Dubbed the ‘Pygmalion Effect’, this study of self-fulfilling prophecy gave us proof if we needed it that the stories others tell about us, and those we tell about ourselves, can be extremely potent, shaping expectations, perceptions and experiences of life. I was in a school a few years ago and winced as a 13 year old boy was told to change the reading material he had chosen because ‘You’re only a level 3.’ What happened inside him at that moment? What ideas was he taking on about himself, and for how many years had this been happening? What must that do to a person? I don’t think we need a research study to tell us it’s not good and won’t lead anywhere positive. That may be an extreme example, but if we internalise and start living out a story that is in any way mean and cramped and limiting, what then? What happens to our own, truer stories? Maybe they twist and go

To braver souls, however, they would be interesting, creative and exciting, and it’s about time we all took courage and demanded changes within our education system to ensure that every child enjoy the fundamental right of being seen and celebrated for the uniquely talented person they are. Our children deserve to hear and to see reflected back to them stories of potential and possibility that relate to them personally and in a meaningful way. Otherwise, it’s like being a puppet, playing a role in a scratchy costume that doesn’t fit and was never really meant for you, whilst you’re meant to be the weaver of your own creative story, living it fully and telling it in your very own words. Read on for the powerful, shocking, challenging testimonies of 5 young people, taken from the documentary interviews with Julia Black. You can watch the film below.




Scarlet came to Explorium after heading down a wrong track. I think she just didn’t know how to change direction. Julia Black

I feel Explorium gave Scarlet a new door to open where she could see how her future could be the future she wanted, not the one others thought she should have. It is exciting to see Scarlet find the courage to be ‘herself’ and not try to be what others want her to be.


I’ve always kind of struggled quite a bit with academic work. I’m intelligent enough to understand the general kind of knowledge of it but I always found it difficult to kind of learn in that environment. It was even at primary school really. I fall behind quite easily because I get distracted quite easily and at the moment I have fallen behind quite hugely in maths and history. I think that in school there is a lot of pressure for GCSEs and you get your reports back and if they have not got the right grades on then it stresses you out and it’s just there’s a lot of pressure. I always have got this kind of worry that I’m going to do badly and I don’t like letting people down.

I think that we’re putting too much pressure on people and that if there was a way that we could take away some of that pressure and that kind of stress, that would be really great. It’s all too much really. We have a lot to learn and it’s a great thing that you want to teach us but the way that they are teaching, it is pouring so much into us and we're just overflowing and it’s difficult to take it all in. I think it’s more important for people to be able to be themselves than have to kind of scramble at trying to be this kind of really smart, well knowledged person who knows everything that they have been taught. And it’s really difficult to be that person and also be yourself. Some people kind of click in this environment, and do really well, but other people aren’t so great at it. I look forward to being able to come here throughout the week, it’s like my time where I get to kind of relax a bit. I have made a camouflage skirt that is gonna have a net skirt and it’s about shin length I suppose. I’m really proud of it! It’s

great to be able to see the difference from how your work began and how it finished. It shows me that I have kind of got better at doing things. I have always from a young age known what it is that I wanted to do, I have always been quite interested in fashion and clothes, and not being able to pursue it in primary school and then secondary school as well was kind of difficult, but then coming here and being able to set your own goals and achieve what it is that you want to achieve is really amazing. It’s kind of like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders almost, cos I come here and I forget about all the troubles that I have got outside and I just kind of get on with what it is that I want to be doing. It’s like being kind of almost set free. I’ve kind of been cramped into this ‘Do your maths! Do your English! Do all of this!’ And then I come here and I get to do what it is that I want to do and it’s like somebody has kind of unlocked my chains and been like ‘You’re free to do what you want now!’ And it’s really nice.



CHARL E I actually want to accomplish something, I don’t want to be just another worker somewhere that no one knows. I want to actually have a legacy.

I wanted to tell Charlie’s story because he wants to make a difference in the world and I think our future needs young people like him to find their voice. Charlie came to Explorium skeptical but within a couple of sessions had thrown himself in entirely to exploring his passion. I like the fact he is seizing the opportunity and that could have a major impact on his future career options.


I’m the most dyslexic person in this school. It was sort of a label that ‘He’s the kid that can’t do much, he needs help, he can’t accomplish things on his own.’ When I look at a problem, whereas some people might look at it as just ‘Let’s fix it, it’s easy to do…’ I look at it and it’s like, ‘How can I make this different?’ I never really got told that I was good at anything. I was always being pushed, like ‘You need to work harder, you need to do more, you’re not doing enough’. I did as much as I could, but it wasn’t ever enough. There is never anything tangible that you can see. Just a bunch of numbers on a page that no one really cares about. It can make people feel depressed or upset or sad or things.

If 100,000 people got together and demanded that things should change it would change. But there are not enough people all in agreement. If I could get enough people to make a difference I would. But people don’t like listening to the small guy. I actually want to accomplish something, I don’t want to be just another a worker somewhere that no one knows. I want to actually have a legacy. I want to be known as someone who actually did something, who changed something for the better, I want to do something with my life. I don’t want to die knowing that I haven’t done anything or accomplished anything. There are so many people, even in this school that if they were brave and actually wanted to do something could do such amazing and great things but can’t cos they are too afraid to. I’ve seen so many people like family and friends that have just got trapped in either poverty or boredom or not knowing what to do. I want to change that. I say, ‘Do what you want, follow up the dream that you had as a 5 year old.’




Check out Izzy’s writing on pages 36-39


I wanted to interview Isabelle as she was one of our learners whose lights were more difficult to switch on than others. She was really kicking out against us not in a disruptive way but in her attitude of ‘I don’t want to be here, it’s just like school after school. Julia Black


ne session I gave her a choice - to use the talents of my team to her advantage or to ride out the time until her paid sessions were up and she didn’t have to come back. It proved to be a turning point and I’m pleased, looking back, that I got stern with her! Isabelle has an incredible writing talent but fear of failure was definitely holding her back, a classic case of her answering the end of the ‘what if…?’ sentence negatively rather than positively. Explorium is helping her to take the risk.


I was quite closed off to the aspect of Explorium generally. I just thought, Well, I’ve just had however many hours of school, why should I have to come here and do more learning or trying new things or whatever when I could just be at home, doing what I wanted? Everyone all had their individual things to do like they knew what they wanted to do, and I just didn’t so I felt kind of out of place I think. There wasn’t really a point of me being there. I think I was kind of scared of being judged based on what I would write. I knew you had people here who could really critique my writing, and in a way that was good, but it was kind of a fear that they wouldn’t like any of my ideas because of how different they are. It was something that I thought that I was remotely good at, but what if I got here, and suddenly found out

that I wasn’t and that I was actually terrible and that it had all been like false hope. I think in life generally it’s really important to have something that you want to do and to have a purpose because then it gives you that motivation that you need to actually start to do something. I don’t really feel like there’s a real purpose (at school) like there’s nothing to properly work towards, even though we’re supposed to be learning stuff for GCSEs. That’s sort of a goal, but it feels very boxed in because it’s just you’re learning the same things over and over again. It’s kind of lacking just generally the goals that we need to be motivated. This is gonna sound really bad, but it’s just a target. You don’t have to get it, and there’s nothing really there to say, ‘C’mon, you can do it!’ It just doesn’t really matter to me whether I get my target or not. It takes, in my eyes, quite a lot to get inspired, so normally I’m just kind of in that mood like I don’t really care. But once I do get inspired, like I was at Explorium, I feel more determined and like I have a reason to do the thing that I want to do. I think now since I have let people read my writing I might fail, people might not like what I’m producing but there’s always that ‘what if they do?’. What if I turn out to be better than I thought I was and what if I prove myself wrong? I think it’s that ‘what if’ that kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone really.

!O 26

LLIE They may have incredible talents that are going unnoticed and unnurtured. When Ollie walked into Explorium for the first time and tried some animation I knew instantly that here was a boy who stood out from the crowd. What I didn’t realise was that he was keeping that person hidden away. Hopefully we can help him find the confidence to stand tall and proud and use the fact he thinks differently to others to his advantage.

Ollie :

The person I want to be has never made it into school.

Ollie’s story is really important to share as it illustrates how we are setting so many of our children up to fail. Julia Black

you’re just there picking little bits up. Like how far have I got in 8 years? And that’s the feeling that I have at the end of everyday and that’s the weird part cos you just go home with this negativity.

I have just lost everything, like my enthusiasm. It’s like the person that just wants to do stuff and wants to have the chance to do everything, he hasn’t made an appearance at school because it’s extremely hard “the person for me to be that person when I’m up for 6 hours I want to be sitting in a classroom feeling like an idiot. It’s not has never an ideal day for anyone.

We all learn a bit made it into differently, we all a school” I like solving problems and pick up certain bits of that’s what I like about information. Just in my Explorium, it’s amplifying what I want case, I pick up a lot less because of to be doing maybe in the future. It’s how they teach it. It’s not designed for just given me a bit of self esteem people like me. back. It’s trying to make everyone learn how they want to learn but also The information that I need to solve about making them feel good. I like those questions is hidden in this using my hands for work and I come huge web which I’m trying to unpick here and do practical work which extremely slowly. When it’s genuinely is what I want to be doing, taking 5 days a week 6 hours a day and I’m photos, doing videos with people. I there doing nothing because I don’t even tried stitching once which I had understand it, it’s a waste of time. It never done before and it’s just fun. destroys my confidence and then I’m like, ‘What’s the point? Why do I have I sort of know what my learning to just sit here and feel like an idiot?’ capabilities are, how I learn and how I pick things up a lot easier if I am It just makes me feel like, well, do doing practical work and I have an we not matter? Actually, like, is it interest. You don’t get this chance in not worth even trying. It’s like trying regular schools. to move the sand off a beach with a spoon, like they put more on and




“Esme’s story within Explorium is pretty unique, as she was the reason I set it up! Julia Black

Her story is one we might be surprised at - someone who can play the system and be disengaged whilst appearing to excel. I think this is more common than we care to think. What concerns me, as her parent is she is back feeling disheartened as she did when she was in Year 3 and 4 when eventually I took her out of school. If I didn’t believe so much in the vision of Shonogh Pilgrim, the Principal, I’d probably be looking for alternatives again now. But with Explorium on school site Esme is using it as much as she can!


It’s just so repetitive, like every single day and you know what’s gonna happen. It just feels like a waste of time. The school system doesn’t really make you feel good about yourself, like you are either doing well but it doesn’t really matter or you’re not doing well and you’re getting all the bad grades and stuff and you feel really bad about yourself. It really annoys me that like 4 year olds have to go into that and have that since they are 4, because they are so young and they shouldn’t be compressed into the system. They want you to be this person and everyone is out here, and they are just trying to push you in to be that person. I can just feel myself being like...They are trying to change me, like, who I am. Like they are trying to make me someone I’m not and I know that

that’s not going to work in the future, and I’m just trying to sort of not let that happen. It’s kind of like quite scary because I can sort of feel myself being changed by the school system. I guess some people just can hold on to more of who they are or some people probably get that back after they leave education. But it seems kind of horrible to take away someone’s personality while they are so young. I guess it sort of gets to me quite a lot. I kind of feel really empty and stuff, and it’s like when you’re in lesson, you sit and look at the clock and it’s going slowly and you’re learning, well, listening to the teacher talk about something that you don’t care about, and it’s just like… Really?? C’mon. I want to feel really excited by what I’m doing, what I’m learning. Something that matters to me and something that I want to do. Something that plays to my strengths or develops my strengths. I know what sort of person I want to be in the future. I want to contribute and I want to be independent, creative, problem solving. I want to be unique, I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. I think everyone is different, I think everyone has different qualities that will contribute to different things in the world, but I think that what’s really important is that we don’t lose them.


What I’ve learned from...

A Lifetime in Education Ansford Academy Principal Shonogh Pilgrim shares her story.

mentioned here I have put myself under huge amounts of pressure, thinking that others will think badly of me if I fail. As I’ve got to know myself more I’ve realised f you had known me when I was at that so much of my self-esteem has school you would have drawn the been caught up in what other people conclusion that the education system fitted me like a glove. My Mam returned think of me. That is not a healthy place to be at the best of times but from every parents’ evening as I’ve progressed through brimming with pride: ‘They Working with my career I’ve realised that said you are a pleasure to Explorium letting the opinions of others teach, you always do what has shown dictate how you feel and act they ask you to do and are me that I’m has the potential to become really well behaved. They did not the only debilitating. say that they’d like it if you one who contributed more in class Our education system has because it will help you learn. thinks that we could such a narrow focus on I told them you aren’t quiet at make things academic excellence that I home!’ better. was able to excel despite the real me being totally invisible I loved school because I to the teachers whose positive regard I found learning stuff really easy. I took most desired. I did everything that was really quickly to reading and writing, expected of me, I even tried hard to I have an excellent memory and my contribute despite this meaning I spent parents, well, my Mam actually, had most lessons terrified that I’d have to drilled into me that working hard was the speak soon and might say something most important thing. As a consequence, stupid! I was bathed in the positive regard of my teachers from the word go. That type I don’t want any of the young people I of praise turns out to be addictive and work with to feel the anxiety and fear I felt meant that I could settle for nothing less in school. I want them to be helped to unthan being the best. derstand who they are, to find the things they love most in the world, to be able to Now, that single minded perfectionism maintain their uniqueness while showing has meant that I’ve been able to achieve the world what they are capable of. some amazing things but it hasn’t been without cost. Like the able students


“Sitting with them and being able to talk about our shared hopes and dreams was perhaps one of the most inspirational moments in my career”


I’ve been working in education for almost 20 years and have had conversations too numerous to count with brilliant individuals who have felt like aliens in school. The majority of those conversations have probably been with students who have found themselves so unable to cope that they’ve rebelled against the system. I’ve always asked the students I’ve taught what they’ve needed in my lessons and I’ve tried to satisfy them when they’ve asked me why they have to study things they’ll never use in their life. Perhaps my frustration is greater because I have listened to them; I’ve lived my own excellence and I haven’t yet been able to affect a significant change. Working with Explorium has shown me that I’m not the only one who thinks that we could make things better. Seeing the

students who’ve been involved tapping into the core of who they are and being given permission to believe in themselves has been amazing. Sitting with them and being able to talk about our shared hopes and dreams was perhaps one of the most inspirational moments in my career. Every single one of them is desperate to be freed to push themselves further and harder than people around them have ever imagined, but not just in the narrow realms judged acceptable by a traditional academic-iseverything-obsessed society. They know they need their English and Maths but they want that to be the foundation, not the limit. I, for one, am confident that when you give people control they don’t settle for mediocrity unless you do your best to convince them that that is their limit!



Here, Corinne Williams introduces the core of the Explorium approach, and explores why being switched on to learning has never been more important.

wired for learning

what we really want are creative thinkers, PRoblem solvers and changemakers!


f an electrical circuit lacks an important component, its lights simply can’t burn as brightly as they should, if they even light up at all. You may never know what spectacular displays might be possible without that missing piece. If your lights aren’t burning as brightly as they could be, it’s time to ask why, and uncover the obstacles which might be getting in your way.

of the more unexpected discoveries we came across in our work with hundreds of young people on different creative projects. As we challenged them to move out of their comfort zones into areas of new possibility, we discovered that more often than not it is the A graders and high achievers who are most likely to have a firmly fixed mindset.

As we explored this, it kind of made To be honest, that’s where the fun sense. Of course, in a system that starts, and where our Wired for prizes getting things ‘right’ and Learning approach getting the highest comes in. Lots of it is more often marks, if doing what our learners agree you’re told and than not the that whilst it might regurgitating facts not always feel to order has kept A graders and like fun to confront you in the coveted high achievers some big bad top spot forever, obstacle standing why would you want who are most in the way and to take the risk to likely to have stopping you from try something new, a firmly fixed moving forward, think creative new it’s worth it in the thoughts or actively mindset. end. seek out failure? And as Cameron, a secondary A Our Wired for Learning (W4L) grade student puts it, ‘It’s a burden. practice runs through everything It forces you into a place where you we do here at Explorium. Being can’t be seen to fail. You can’t learn W4L means coming to learn with from your mistakes because you a growth mindset, being resilient, can’t make any.’ open to failure and in true Toffler fashion, being able to learn, unlearn And if even getting an A grade and relearn. doesn’t necessarily equate with feeling engaged and curious We’ll be exploring a different aspect about learning, then the education of the W4L approach in each issue, system as it is seems to be actively and here we look specifically at one encouraging learning with your


wired FOR LEARNIG 34 W4L


Being W4L means coming to learn with a growth mindset, being resilient, open to failure and in true Toffler fashion, being able learn, unlearn and relearn. lights off. It’s an interesting and ultimately limiting conundrum that our young people are being forced to contend with every day. Then they enter the real world, and we go and spring it on them that actually what we really want are creative thinkers, problem solvers and changemakers!

to become really good at anything, and this deeper learning is the kind of learning we like. As Edison reminds us on page 50, it can sometimes take 10 000 necessary failures before we hit on the solution to a problem. And if he’d given up at 9999? We’d still be in the dark.

By encouraging a growth mindset as early as possible and by making our young people aware of basic neuroscience so that they understand how their brain works and how to get it working at its best, we are empowering them to take responsibility for their learning, and their lives.

We are living in rapidly changing times, and our 21st century world needs young people who can change and adapt, think on their feet and respond to the inevitable challenges coming their way with resilience and creativity. Never has being totally Wired for Learning seemed more important.

To prize the energy, determination and persistence they apply to a task more than the eventual outcome is also really important. Practice is vital



LOSS by Izzy


he’s dead. She’s gone. Gone from this world, and never coming back. It hurts my heart just thinking about it, let alone staring blankly down at her coffin, as I am now. It’s Lil’s funeral, just a week after the accident. Seven whole days, and I still can’t believe it; my friend, my best-friend... is dead. In my head, it sounds like more of a question than a statement. But there really is no question about it, is there? My stomach twists. Mum tries to hold my hand, but I snatch it away, maybe more violently than I should. I can feel her tearful gaze burning into the back of my head, but I refuse to look at her. On my left, Max is gritting his teeth, trying his hardest to suppress his sobs. I don’t know why he’s so upset, him and Lil were never close, and it almost makes me hate him. I can’t hate him, though: he’s my brother. Her dark-wood coffin is slowly being lowered into the ground, the Vicar mumbling some prayers, and everyone crying to themselves and hugging their loved ones. I’m the only person with dry eyes. I don’t know why, but I’m more angry than sad. Not many people turned up; just me, Max, Mum, her parents, and a few other people whom I assume are immediate or close family. No-one from school turned up, even though several people promised me. Not even her boyfriend came. “Lilia Clarke, you will be missed,” the Vicar finishes, rolling up the scroll of paper that he’d been reading from, and tucking it under his arm. The box thuds to a halt, having been lowered now out of sight

and immersed in an earthy underground darkness. “You will be missed,” splutters her mother, tossing a white flower into the rectangular hole. Some other people echo those words, one or two snorting into tissues; including Mum, sniffling and streaming with salty tears. I lift my head, peering around for the first time since we arrived at Lil’s place of rest. Her parents are hugged together tightly, and her little siblings - two usually devilish twins - huddle at the foot of their dead sister’s grave. They both look utterly bewildered, tears bulging from their wide eyes, all of the colour in their freckled faces drained. This is when it first starts to sink in, and a tremendous lump gathers in my throat. It tries to choke me, but fails. Max half-coughs, half-sobs, and wipes his face with a sleeve. I glance up at him, but his green eyes are guarded by a mop of blonde fringe. It’s now as silent as it’s been, and everyone solemnly walks clockwise back towards the gritty path, tossing various different herbs and white flowers into the gaping grave. I have a pale blue lily clasped in my left fist, and as we all pass, I throw it in, watching the delicate plant tumble and twirl out of sight. The trip back to the church is dull, and almost awkward. Still, no-one speaks to me, and I’m left to walk by myself when Mum and Max trail off to apologise to Lil’s parents. It’s Autumn, so I’m wearing a black coat over the top of my funeral dress. The crisp wind still finds a way through, though, and I begin to shiver. That’s when I feel someone wrap their familiar arm around my shoulders.


“How’re you doing?” Carol asks, her voice tender and sweet. I try to shrug, and let out a rigid breath. Carol is—was—Lil’s Godmother: the only familiar face that isn’t dripping with tears and snot. She’s a good person, but is oddly great at hiding her emotions. “I don’t know,” I mutter, distantly. She sighs, and drops her arm, instead just walking along-side me. “I’m sorry,” she says, “I’m really so sorry.” I know that she’s trying to be nice, but having to talk to someone just makes everything worse. I don’t reply, and let the silence settle in, once again. She either doesn’t mind, or simply has no willpower left to try and push the subject any further; Lil’s death took a toll on her, too. When we eventually make it out of the graveyard and back to the several-century-old church, everyone gathers in a group and says their farewells, filtering away until only a few of us remain. Her parents are still deep in conversation with Mum, so me and Max stand together. I lean against the church’s stone wall. “Look, Carmen,” he begins, running a hand through his hair; he’s stopped crying, but his face is still red and streaked. I bite the inside of my cheek—something I’m prone to do—and turn away. He heavily exhales. “You haven’t said a word to anyone this whole time.” I swallow dryly, refusing to reply. He scuffs his shoe against the cobblestone floor. “Carmen,” he presses. Nothing. “Carmen?” Again, I remain quiet. “Carmen!” He yells this time, and I snap back around to face him, not in the mood for conversation. “What?” I grumble.

“I know, alright? I know,” he fumbles, obviously trying to find the right words, “I know.” This is when the first hot tear rolls down my cheek, and anger bubbles inside of me. “No, you don’t,” I retort. “Of course you don’t! Your best-friend hasn’t just died, Max.” I don’t know what’s wrong with me; I shouldn’t be like this. I should be upset, I should be crying, I should be in pain. He looks more than surprised at my outburst, and widens his eyes. I immediately regret saying anything at all, but still make no move to apologise. “Oh,” he mutters, “God, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean…” But he doesn’t finish. My eyes are swimming with tears, and a few more follow their leader, who is slowly making his way down to my chin. “She’s gone,” I whisper, “and all I can do is get mad. What’s wrong with me?” Max sighs, pouting like a small child. He hesitates, before embracing me into a tight hug. I bury my face into his jacket, and cry for the first time. After a few long minutes, I draw away from him, wiping my eyes with the palm of my hand, and sniffing. “I spoke to Carol,” I add. He smiles at me - a drained, weary smile and pokes a finger against my forehead. “Look,” he says, “that heart of yours has finally proven that it’s there, and here I was doubting its entire existence.” I exhale through my nostrils, and glance back at my brother with bloodshot eyes. “I told you,” I reply, “I do have a heart.” He sucks in a sharp breath, and nods vaguely. “Yeah,” he says. “Yeah,” I say back. But… do I really have a heart? Lil meant so much to me, and



still does: she was my saviour, she was my inspiration, she was the one who told me that I could do it, even when I knew I couldn’t. Ever since I fell into the sandpit in Preschool when we first met, Lil has always been there. But now, she’s gone. I can never see her again. She won’t be here when I’m upset, she won’t be here to visit the beach with. I can’t eat with her at lunch, I can’t sit and gossip with her in lessons. She’s just… not here. My stomach turns at this realisation, and I think I might puke. We, as humans, cry and mourn for those lost; we cry and feel sad. But, what’s the point in feeling sad when in the end those dead are just...forgotten? I don’t just feel sad, though. I feel as if someone’s taken my heart, and ripped it in two; stamping on one half, and burning the other. That surely counts for something, doesn’t it? That means that our time together wasn’t wasted? “Carmen?” I jump at the sudden call of my name, and blink, glancing around. Mum’s staring at me expectantly, as are Lil’s parents. “You want to say one last goodbye to her?” Lil’s Mum asks, running a finger under each of her eyes to wipe away any smeared makeup. I hesitate, before nodding once. Max pats my shoulder, and makes a move to follow as I turn back towards the graveyard. “No,” I mutter, “don’t come, I wanna be alone.” He looks slightly taken aback, but smiles all the same, and watches as I walk back down the grey cobblestone path that twists towards Lil’s place of rest. When I finally arrive, hopping onto the soggy grass and waiting until the men who buried her leave, I stand solemnly beside

the mound of dirt, under which my bestfriend lies. “Wow,” I whisper, tears filling my eyes, once again, “here we are.” I don’t know if she can hear me, but I speak to her anyway. Just in case. “I bet… it’s uncomfortable down there.” I pause. What the hell am I saying? There’s a monotone voice in the distance, and I look up to see a small group of people gathered around something on the other side of the graveyard. That same vicar is saying those same words, and it doesn’t take a genius to realise that they too are here to say their farewells to a loved one. I wheeze out a breath, feeling a tear roll down my cheek. I’m still staring at the hunched crowd, when someone, who looks to be no older than me, turns and glances at me. It’s a boy with dark-brown wavy hair. His face is pale and his eyes are swimming but he still smiles, waves, and then turns back around. I don’t know him, but he seems nice. He’s going through the same thing as me, I think. Of course. There’s always someone else going through what you are, and in this case, it’s that boy and his family. I’m not alone, not really. My eyes flutter back down the the fresh soil at my feet, and I kneel beside it; my dress doesn’t cover my knees, so they get wet, but I don’t care. “Guess this is it” I say to Lil, “guess this is goodbye.” I peer back up and at the boy. He’s not looking at me, still facing the other way. I hear Mum calling my name. I sigh. “Yeah, I have to go, now. I’ll come here often, I promise.” Getting to my feet, I blink, letting a few more tears free. “Goodbye, Lilia.” And then I laugh to myself. “You don’t like me calling you that, do you? Sorry, Lil.” Mum calls again, and I slowly make my way back down the cobblestone path. Her and Max are waiting for me, as are Lil’s parents


and little siblings. “It’s really cold,” Jessie complains, nudging her brother in the ribs and pulling down her grey sleeves, “Can we go yet?” Her mother sighs, and touches the 6-year-old’s arm. I know, as well as her, that Jessie and James will be expecting Lil to be waiting when they get back home. But, of course, she won’t be. They’re too young to understand death, and it disturbs me that their parents make no move to explain it. “Yes, yes,” she mutters, before turning to me and stepping forward for a hug. I reluctantly let her, trying not to squeak when she squeezes me too tight; as she always does. “Sorry,” I say when we’re safely a few feet apart. She nods. “There’s nothing to be sorry about,” her husband insists, having previously been incredibly quiet. I shrug, secretly blaming myself. Of course I have something to be sorry about, I think, your daughter’s dead, for God’s sake. Max glances at me as if he can read my thoughts, and I look away uneasily. Maybe… just maybe… if I hadn’t hung-up the phone so soon then she wouldn’t have crossed the road. Maybe, if I had ignored her call in the first place then that car wouldn’t have swerved and hit the curb. Maybe… this whole thing was my fault? No, no. It can’t be, can it? I shake my head, just as Mum says her final goodbyes to Lil’s family, and we begin to walk back towards the jagged black gates of the car park. “Let’s get home,” Mum says, “put on a movie, eat some homemade lasagna, and have an early night.” She rubs her hands together, and pats Max on the shoulder. He smiles crookedly, as he always does, and they both look at me expectantly. I blink. “Erm, sure, I guess?” I manage out, but I feel like I’m in a completely different place.

Mum grins, flinging open the set of gates with way too much enthusiasm. I exchange a look with my brother. I know she’s trying, but she’s trying too hard. The car lights flash, and I reach for the door handle, pausing when a sudden thought crosses my mind. The boy. I turn on my heels, glancing around in search of that almost-curly brown hair. As I expected, his small group of family are bunched together near the entrance of the church, just as we were a few minutes ago. He’s stood by himself at the edge of the mini-crowd, peering around the graveyard with the most fantastic blue eyes that I have ever seen. He seems to sense my gaze and turns, taking a moment to find my face. Our eyes meet, and I try my best to look friendly. Epic fail. “C’mon, Carmen!” Mum chimes from the front seat, and I snap myself out of whatever daze I’m in. He catches my name, and gives a small smile, slowly mouthing, Bye, Carmen. This really makes me grin, and I hop into the car, beside my brother, some of the weariness and doubt drained from my bones. I maintain eye-contact with this boy until we turn a corner and he’s out of sight. Max pokes my temple gently with his index finger. “You alright, up there?” he asks. His voice is still laced with grief, but he sounds more like the usual happy-golucky him. I snort, and bat away his hand. “Yeah, yeah,” I answer, “I’m fine.”


» b


PHOTO. »Havana Pool by Barry Cawston

PHOTO. »Garage Doors by Barry Cawston


»A Café In Savela by Barry Cawston


Shot in the dark. “500 Windows was one that stood out for me because of its colour and urban-ness I like the contrast of colours and reflections.

PHOTO. »Car Crash Princess by Barry Cawston

PHOTO. »A Pig in a Poke by Barry Cawston

PHOTO. »A Dismal Welcome by Barry Cawston

shot in the dark



» Barry Cawston

At what age did you start taking photos?

I’m Ollie, and I love taking photos. I was lucky enough to talk with famous photographer Barry Cawston. He critiqued a few of my photos and he gave me really good and useful advice. Afterwards I asked him a few questions. Here they are. I hope you enjoy!

i have taken pictures from as early as I can remember but I guess at school I used to go on days out with my camera but at most I saw it as a hobby and never expected it to become such an important part of my life.

Have you ever developed your own film or do you only use digital?

The first time I was really hooked was when I saw one of my pictures emerging in the developer under red light in the darkroom. I have always enjoyed printing and have had my own colour and black and white darkroom ranging in luxury from a 6ft x4ft cupboard to a fully kitted out magical space in the house I live now. However digital cameras have improved so much in recent years that I now also own two of them and use them 90% of the time….the quality and economics almost make it no contest.

Do you have a favourite camera?

I use a Nikon D800 digital camera almost all the time now but I still love my medium format Hasselblad with its square format and top viewfinder

for portraits and my Wista large Format 5/4 for architecture because it allows me to straighten the verticals.

IF YOU HAD ANY ADVICE TO GIVE TO A YOUNG ASPIRING PHOTOGRAPHER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I have always said that if you can marry your passion for photography with another passion you have, be that walking in the hills, clubbing, food, skateboarding whatever then your enthusiasm for both always emerges! I always look for a new route to walk and a new door to open be that metaphorically or in reality because photography is about access and being inspired by something new or a different perspective.

And also, Barry Cawston – what switches on your lights?!

I love the work of Richard Misrach, he has been a total inspiration. More recently I had the chance to do a book about Dismaland and that really engaged me and led me to see things anew. Bottom line though is Art, music and the human imprint on the world (good and bad). Thank you Ollie and look forward to meeting you sometime soon.


Shot in the dark

Barry Cawston’s critique on OLLIE’s photographs

“dynamic, engaging” Barry Cawston



looked at five of your pictures and I would like to start by saying that I think genuinely that they are very good. Words that spring to mind are dynamic, engaging, colourful and contemporary and I think the fact that they are all shot at night is great.

and perhaps you could pull out a bit more detail in the shadows at the bottom, but this is quite a simple photoshop thing. The mask in the first picture looks really ominous and there is something threatening there which looks fab and the other painted face makes me laugh!

A lot of photographs fall into obvious categories and can be passed over but these deserve a second look.

A bold set and definitely something I think you should continue to work on as a series… Maybe you already have more you are working on.

Of particular interest to me are the two portraits because they are very unusual and I love the use of black and white in one to accentuate the dynamic of structure. The red lights could well do with a bit of brightening

I think to continue to revisit a place and theme when you are onto something would really allow you to go even deeper.

Book giveaway All Photos: Ollie

We have a signed copy of Barry’s most recent book Are We There Yet? to giveaway. Send your photos that reflect a unique take on a place you know to subject line ‘Shot In The Dark’. We’ll pick a winner and show all your work via our social media and online gallery. Good luck!

Check out the ‘Are We there yet’ facebook group for some inspiration.

A series of images by Ollie


THE spark

Lights On, Lights Off, Lights Flashing Alarmingly… Corinne Williams, Explorium coach, discovers how an obstacle in your way can sometimes push you to take a new and interesting path. I’d stuck the boys’ muddy rugby kits in the washing machine. When I noticed later that it was all still sloshing about, way past the time when it should have been rinsed and clean, I gulped. I pressed buttons and thought positive thoughts. Nothing happened. Something was horribly wrong.

So, what do you do when a E20 error message stands between you and clean sports gear? I admit to a frisson of fear. I admit to a few desperate tears. I didn’t know it then, but things had just got interesting. I turned to Google (how I love a good search engine) and discovered we had a drainage problem. Now I knew what I was dealing with, I felt better. I cleaned out the filter, found a rusty penny and a safety pin but the problem remained. We clearly had pump issues. Friends were now sharing horror stories with me, shaking their heads sadly, ‘Once the pump goes, that’s it. You’ll just have to get a new one.’ I Googled ‘new reliable washing machine’, and if I’d had a spare £250, I would have clicked there and then. I didn’t want to shell out all that cash, but I really wanted a working washing machine, so at that moment I was pushed to make a different, more creative choice. It was like one of those books where your decision


»Corinne with the source of the problem and catalyst for great adventure


takes you to a new page, a new story. I was in new territory now. Specifically, ThinkOnYourFeet Land. I was a complete novice when it came to engineering and fixing stuff, but as luck would have it, I’d recently been inspired by one of our young mentors, Darren, who had showed me how satisfying it could be to hook up an electrical circuit and switch on a light, just for fun. It was something way outside what I’d considered my natural comfort zone. But if this hadn’t have taken place, I can tell you honestly that there was very little chance I would have found myself on the sofa watching videos about white goods’ repairs.

I took a deep breath. I said a prayer to the washing machine gods and realised that the outcome actually didn’t matter to me now; I had learned so much, felt so creative and so empowered by such great

this was an initiation into new creative possibilities, and it felt fantastic!

As my creative journey really got underway, I was blown away by the sheer scale of information out there, all that knowledge and wisdom, so generously shared. Thank you, You Tube plumber Tony, for taking the time to dismantle your Zanussi and show me (and my 15 year old son, who was now fully on board with what we were calling The Washing Machine Chronicles) how to access the pump and replace it with the new one I’d ordered for £20. I’ll never forget Oscar calling me at work, whooping, ‘I’ve fixed it! I’ve fixed it!’ And yes, he had fixed the pump, but with water flooding all over the floor, we now had a new problem (or creative challenge to get stuck into - it was all a question of perspective, after all). All signs pointed to the pressure system, and so with local retired plumber Vic giving me tech support over the phone, I took out the old hose (split in several places - I was crazily thrilled to see this!) and wriggled a new piece into place.

collaborative support, that whatever happened, it would all have been worth it and I wouldn’t hold anything against them. I pressed the magic button, caressed the machine which now felt like a dear friend, and watched it go through a complete cycle (‘Ooh, it’s agitating nicely...’). I was holding my breath, anxious-eyed and willing it on, like a mother watching her firstborn take its first steps. And well, it worked! It really worked! This went way beyond clean sports kit - this was an initiation into new creative possibilities, and it felt fantastic! Since then, I’ve dug out my sewing machine, contemplated learning some simple car mechanics and have framed the infamous piece of pressure hose, hanging it up on my kitchen wall. It reminds me that of course I can learn new skills in areas I never would have considered possible, and that if something comes too easily, I might just miss out a wild and creative adventure. Plus we have clean clothes for days. Bonus!


the future is bright

THE FUTURE’s bright meet some Learners from Explorium


when my lights are on, I feel energised, happy and full of enthusiasm...

Hi, my name is Lydia and I started Explorium a few weeks after starting in year 7. When my lights are off it is usually in lessons I feel I do not do well in. I feel quite bored, tired and that I really do not want to carry on. Having my lights off is not very inspiring as nothing is exciting or fun any more. When my lights are on, everything is interesting and I am ready to learn. I feel energised, happy, bright and full of enthusiasm. Having my lights on feels amazing! When my lights are on and really shining bright, it’s

when I am doing something I find interesting. I love art and drawing, carpentry, drama and writing stories - I’ve been writing a story called ‘Hunter or Hunted’, about a girl who finds a wolf cub when she is young and comes back to find it again. If I could say anything to the people who make rules in education it would be ‘Why do we have to be taught things in school that we will never use again in our entire lives?’. If only they would listen. I would love it if they would teach us things that were relevant to life after school.

To find out how your child can experience Lights On Learning with Explorium, visit or call 01458 274050.

Explorium has made a big difference to the way I learn at school because it has made me more positive and confident, especially when doing things that I used to find boring. For example, I never used to like English and now I am writing stories!



A Gateway to New Possibilities


by Seb (10)

have the luxury of being a full-time Explorium learner. My lights are definitely on! It’s woodwork and carpentry that makes me tick, I absolutely love it.

The moral of this story is if I hadn’t have been learning with my lights on I would have seen that plank of wood and thought nothing of it, therefore never opening this new part of my life. It’s impossible to go I’m going to talk to you about the effect through life always getting things right of learning with your lights on. About and never getting things wrong. Most 2 months ago I found an old plank of people look at failing as something bad wood in the back garden and I thought but it’s completely the opposite. When to myself, “Hmm, I wonder what I could I fail, I learn what went wrong and I can make out of that..?” reflect and problem solve. When you find James Dyson made 5127 I decided on a small prototypes before he got an that thing treasure chest-like box. effective vacuum cleaner... When I told my mum now that’s perseverance! you love to about this I could tell you don’t try you’ll never do everything Ifsucceed. she wasn’t expecting suddenly anything because I hadn’t ever done any woodwork makes sense. My advice? When you find before. I measured out 6 that thing you love to do squares and cut them all, everything suddenly makes I nailed 5 of them together to create the sense. Don’t be afraid to try something inside and the bottom. I convinced my new just because you might not get it mum to drive me to the hardware store to right the first time. I never thought for a buy some hinges. I added the lid and hey second that I would be good as a maker presto, I was done. but I gave it a try and now I love it. This was the start of my new adventure into carpentry. I went on to make wooden swords, knives, toilet roll holders and now I’m undergoing my biggest project yet, to make a full size five bar gate.

If I have one thing to say to you it would be don’t be afraid to dive in deep and explore who you are and what you love to do, you never know what’s around the corner...

#ENgaged #Inspired


"don't be afraid to dive in deep and explore who you are and what you love to do, you never know what's around the corner..."

#Interested #ALERT


Drawing Inspiration From Everyday Life An interview with GLO creator, Matthew (13)

Q How did you get started?

Q Who inspires

A My mum bought me a sketch

creator of The Simp he was stuck witho started to draw for and it all grew from done really well!

book when I was really small and I used to draw. I started copying ideas out of The Simpsons comic books. They're pretty funny, and I like the clean cut drawings and use of colour.

A Definitely Matt G

s you?

Groening, psons. I read out a job and a newspaper m there. He’s


Q Can you remember your first ever drawing?

Q What switches on your lights?!

Q What would you love to do in the future?

A Cartoon-wise, I drew this character called Pip, which was basically a round pip-like little guy, and he used to find himself in lots of interesting and funny situations. There was Pip in Space, that was my favourite one, and Pip on Safari, which was basically Pip with a lion about to pounce!

A I love all sports, football, rugby.

I enjoy being with my mates and playing together as part of a team.

A I would love to be a cartoonist, or an architect. It just think it would be really creative as I’d get to use my skills and have fun.


lightbulb moment:

noun 1. a moment of wisdom and clarity, a breakthrough in our explorations where we feel a heightened sense of excitement. Findings on Light

Based on the idea that creativity and curiosity are fundamental to both art and science, the recently published Findings on Light is an exploration of light itself, and features the work of more than fifty artists and scientists who shape the way we look at the world. It’s a collection of fascinating research and artwork, and illuminates one of the most common yet mysterious phenomenon in our universe, which has captivated creative thinkers for millennia. You can find out more by visiting and even better, take a look for yourself.

We have a signed copy of the book to give away, courtesy of the lovely people at Lars Müller.

Just let us know about your own adventures with Light, using any creative medium that takes your fancy. Whether it’s a film, poem, animation, photograph or something entirely different, send your entries to info@explorium., subject line ‘My Findings On Light’. We’ll publish the best in our next issue, and entries will available to view in our online gallery and through social media. And just to inspire you even further, Lars Mueller tells us that ‘Arlo Guthrie’s Lightning Bar Blues switches on my lights!’ We’ll dance to that!

“I have not failed. I’v successf found 10 ways tha won’t wo Edison


not ve ssfully 0,000 at ork.�

All images published with the permission of David Lay Auction House.



The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn – Alvin Toffler


PHOTO. »A False Sense Of Security by Barry Cawston



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Lights On!  
Lights On!  

Lights On! brings together inspiring voices, young and old, who believe anything is possible when you have your lights fully switched on! W...