Education & Creativity Interview: Fiona Brehony

Fiona Brehony is a London based poet from Wythenshawe, Manchester, sharing observations from solitude in vacuous spaces of the Capital. She is a member of the poetry group Poets Versus, a literary platform for emerging and established poets highlighting social injustice and promoting equality. Fiona will be performing at our World Refugee Day Event 2019.

I asked her about her thoughts on education and creativity:

How has education contributed to your creative expression? Creativity took place outside of education growing up. I attended the after school drama class; performing as Puck in A Midsummer’s Nights Dream is definitely a highlight. Most nights after school I’d go to my Gran’s house. She was an opera singer, pianist and poet and you couldn’t turn up without preparing a poem or the like. The creative education she gave was otherworldly looking back. Hours spent writing and making up stories in this old wooden Council house. Needless to say this house is now a memory and a shiny privately owned new build has taken its place. The lack of creative learning in school was the main reason I wanted to get into education. I’ve learnt that we as teachers have to develop a safe nurturing space for young people to express themselves creatively. The National Curriculum needs updating, especially given the research and information we have nowadays in terms of learning styles, along with the benefits of creative expression on mental well being. It’s a broad topic isn’t it. Education is about outcomes and this concerns me. I especially worry for those who are left behind because they’re unable to fit into a certain system. Creative expression is a basic human right. I can’t help thinking the lack of opportunity for creativity is largely out of fear, of giving individual voices opportunity to breathe. Particularly the working class. We’re silenced without support and freedom to express ourselves.

What do you think one needs in their life in order to be creative?The ability to breathe. I think people are intrinsically creative. What’s needed is a supportive and nourishing foundation which allows a person to realise what it is they are capable of. For me personally, I think there also needs to be an element of discipline involved with creativity. It surprises me that I think this way but really it comes down to our relationship with social media nowadays. I don’t mean we should force our creative practice, that could be detrimental to development but instead really to focus on creativity and working in solitude rather than considering getting ‘likes’. I say this as it’s something I went through last year. I asked myself “why am I writing this? Why am I posting my writing? Is it because I want it to breathe somewhere that isn’t just my notepad? Or is it because I am looking for validation?” turns out it was a mixture of those things and more, which led me to return to a more private creative practice. Worked out well though because it led me to reading work aloud and writing this here!
Read this interview on my blog literarypixie and others, too!

Read this post on the Action for Education blog!

Follow Fiona at @FionaSineadBre