Navigate through BOLD and you’ll find almost 700 researchers, educators, and experts sharing their knowledge about the science of learning and child development – the why, the what, the how. Why do teenagers make risky decisions? What are the impacts of childhood adversity? How can we make education systems fairer? Experts share their knowledge using techniques borrowed from storytelling. But earlier this year, I asked a different demographic to explore new ways to tell these stories.
The results included drawings of flying babies, animated explosions of colour, books bursting with life, and cartoon robots making friends with children. BOLD’s topics were illustrated in completely original ways.
The artists behind these creations are students from the Knowledge Visualisation Master’s programme at Zurich University of the Arts. Students on this course specialise in using visual imagery to communicate knowledge. In this project, we tasked twelve students with using their creative skills to interpret BOLD’s topics through short animations and illustrations. As learners themselves, they clearly brought a different perspective to the themes we cover on BOLD. What insights might they have into edtech, neurodiversity, and education systems?
The students pitched their ideas, and I, alongside science communicator Jenny Casetti and lecturers at the university, provided feedback and guidance to help them shape their designs for BOLD’s audience. Six were ultimately commissioned to create artwork for BOLD. I’m excited to share the results, which we will also showcase on social media. There is so much more to communicating the science of learning and development than written text! These animations contribute fresh ideas and inspire us to think about familiar topics in a different way.
Creativity, diversity, equity
While putting their imaginations to the test, the artists were also asked to share some thoughts about how children grow and develop:
“I think it’s important for a child to grow up in… an environment where the child can be creative, sing, paint, read, eat healthy food, play sports, spend time in nature, and so on.”
“Every child is different, and that’s a good thing.”
“All children, regardless of background and status, [should] have access to the same resources. Equal education for all.”
This project highlighted once more the value of inviting new perspectives. Working with students has led to a new understanding of their priorities and thinking around learning and development. The messages they shared overlap with what is important to us at BOLD and to many of our contributors. We are united in sharing ways in which systems – within education and beyond – embrace individuality and strive for equity.