Fighting Words & DCU

Collaboration between Fighting Words and the DCU Institute of Education started in the early days of Fighting Words and has only grown and expanded over the years.

Read here about the ways we work together through research, teacher education and collaborations.

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DCU Institute of Education
Institute of Education, DCU

Fighting Words at Dublin City University

Background

Collaboration between Fighting Words and various staff members on programmes at the DCU Institute of Education started in the early days of Fighting Words and has only grown and expanded over the years.

In 2018, the relationship evolved to a formal partnership between Fighting Words and Institute of Education, funded by the Department of Education

The purpose of the collaboration is to progress creative writing and creative engagement in education through teacher education and research. We now full-time staff member based at the Institute of Education as the Fighting Words Fellow, functioning as the Education Director for Fighting Words. 

Overview of the Fighting Words online module

Creativity and Creative Writing in Education: An Online Module with DCU for the 2022/2023 Academic Year

Take a look at this short overview of the Fighting Words online module.  This is a free resource for educators and anyone interested in creative writing methodologies. The video snapshot highlights the evidence, the impact and the experiences with creativity in education.

If you enjoyed this summary, why not sign up for the free on-line module to view the range of content and resources available for student teachers, teachers and others interested in creative education?

Presented in six 40-minute sessions, the course focuses on the successful Fighting Words creative writing model.  It looks not just at the academic benefits of creative writing but also at the associated development of communication skills, critical thinking, self-efficacy, resilience and wellbeing in the young people.

Registration is easy and it's free. Follow the steps below:

  • Go to https://loop.dcu.ie/login/index.php
  • Click on Non-DCU Accounts
  • Click on Create a New Account, and follow the prompts to get set up on the system
  • When you have done this, please contact Fighting Words Education Director Colm Ó Cuanachán at colmoc@fightingwords.ie so he can enroll you in the course

Teacher Education and Collaborations Across DCU

Fighting Words is contributing to existing courses and modules as part of the primary and post-primary teacher education programme  In parallel, there is a focus on researching and documenting the experience and evidence emerging from the application of the Fighting Words creative education methodologies.  One current research project is exploring the ways in which teachers are adapting and applying creative writing approaches in their classrooms. 

There are a variety of collaborations and projects where Fighting Words has teamed up with research centres at the Institute of Education, including the Anti-Bullying Centre and the Educational Disadvantage Centre. Fighting Words is part of the DCU culture and creativity platforms as well, including the Anam Festival and the Credna Network.  We also work with clubs and societies to facilitate creative writing initiatives, such as the Neurodivergent Society and Enactus DCU. 

Maths Through Story and Creative Writing

Mathematical creativity, the importance of creative story for learning and communicating maths, and the importance of mathematical logic and structure for writing, are all themes we explore with the fourth year BEd students at DCU's Institute of Education.  In 2022, the group took to writing mathematical stories for themselves and produced some very creative work.

For further information contact Colm Ó Cuanacháin, Education Director at colmoc@fightingwords.ie


Research at DCU

Academic researchers have conducted studies into the effectiveness of the Fighting Words model for nearly a decade.

In 2014, the DCU Centre for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment carried out an evaluation of Fighting Words marking the start of a productive research relationship that to date has resulted in the publication of several academic articles, and further research on the Fighting Words model.

The emerging evidence from the DCU research can contribute to curriculum reform and policy discussions related to creativity and creative writing in education.

Research

“Let the kids express themselves”: A Study of Primary and Post-Primary Teachers’ Experiences of Bringing the Fighting Words’ Creative Writing Model Into the Classroom

Dr Alfredo Salomao Filho's 2021 research initiative for Fighting Words to investigate the benefits and challenges that primary and post-primary school teachers experience when using the Fighting Words’ creative writing model in the classroom.

Conducted over a six-month period, this nationwide research consisted of a survey of 118 primary and post-primary school teachers who have experimented with the Fighting Words methodologies. This was followed by a round of interviews with 26 participants, including primary and post-primary teachers, other stakeholders in education agencies and Fighting Words staff.

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Research

2021: Fostering Creativity Through the Participatory Arts

Dr Irene White gave permission to Fighting Words to publish a summary of the relevant chapter and findings from her PhD thesis. 

The research finds that Fighting Words empowers children to learn creatively, with a multitude of positive impacts on wellbeing including the amplification of the teenage voice, as well as improving their efficacy, confidence, esteem and resilience.

It concludes that the Fighting Words model contributes additional, significant knowledge to three key dimensions of creativity, fostering climate(s) for creativity, processes for ‘being creative’ and enabling beneficial outcomes.

Fostering Creativity Through the Participatory Arts was edited by Dearbhail McDonald and includes a foreword by Fighting Words founders Roddy Doyle and Seán Love.

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Research

2020: Participatory arts for creativity in education (PACE) model: exploring the participatory arts as a potential model for fostering creativity in post-primary education - Dr Irene White

The research finds that Fighting Words empowers children to learn creatively, with a multitude of positive impacts on wellbeing including the amplification of the teenage voice, as well as improving their efficacy, confidence, esteem and resilience.  It concludes that the Fighting Words model contributes  significant knowledge to three key dimensions of creativity, fostering climate(s) for creativity, processes for ‘being creative’ and enabling beneficial outcomes.

White, Irene (2020)  PhD thesis, Dublin City University.

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Research

2018: Fighting Words as revolutionary pedagogy: a Freirean reading of young people’s experiences of a socially-engaged creative writing centre - Dr Irene White, Dr Francesca Lorenzi and Dr James O'Higgins Norman

The research is based on a qualitative study conducted over a 12-month period, and indicates that participants in Fighting Words demonstrate increased levels of engagement and motivation, improved confidence and self esteem, recognition of and pride in creative ability, a stronger sense of self, a greater ability to work collaboratively, and improved literacy.

Irene White, Francesca Lorenzi & James O’Higgins Norman (2018): Fighting Words as revolutionary pedagogy: a Freirean reading of young people’s experiences of a socially-engaged creative writing centre, Pastoral Care in Education, DOI: 10.1080/02643944.2018.1527389  

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Research

2016: The development of a model of creative space and its potential for transfer from non-formal to formal education.   

Dr Irene White and Dr Francesca Lorenzi published a follow up study to their 2013 research.

Using the Fighting Words as an example of creative space in the non formal sector, this follow up research focuses on the findings to evidence the transferability from a non-formal to a formal educational context for the development of creative environments within mainstream schools.

White, I., Lorenzi, F. The development of a model of creative space and its potential for transfer from non-formal to formal education. Int Rev Educ 62, 771–790 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-016-9603-4

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Research

2015: DCU Report on the Fighting Words Model

The Centre for Culturally Responsive Evaluation and Assessment at the School of Education at Dublin City University (DCU) completed an evaluation of the Fighting Words creative writing model for secondary school students, and an assessment of the potential for its adaptation within the curriculum.

The report was authored by Dr Francesca Lorenzi and Dr Irene White with a dual purpose; firstly, to evaluate the pedagogical effectiveness and impact of the model in its current format with secondary school students, and secondly, to examine the potential transfer of the model to the second level formal curriculum.

The research was published in a full report or click below for the summary report.

Summary Report


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Roddy at DCU

Teacher Education

Fighting Words has been involved with various teacher education programmes for many years, including drama and maths, as well as writing. The positive impact of teachers on creativity has been part of who we are from the very beginning.

Roddy Doyle: Fighting Words Lecture at Newcastle University

Fighting Words co-founder Roddy Doyle delivered a lecture about Fighting Words at Newcastle University in 2010.

In 2010, one year after Fighting Words opened its doors in Dublin, Roddy Doyle delivered a lecture at Newcastle University covering themes such as the influence of teachers on his own development as a writer, the joy of writing, the lack of encouragement for creative writing in the formal school system, the methodologies used by Fighting Words to encourage young children to write, and how the non-formal Fighting Words workshops with young writers unfold. The attached transcript of Roddy's presentation gives teachers a real insight into the approaches and methods that can be used to encourage creative writing in the classroom. 

Click here to read the full text of the lecture.

Colm Ó Cuanacháin: Finding Words with Fighting Words, August 2021

Colm Ó Cuanacháin, Fighting Words’ Education Director at Dublin City University, based in the Institute of Education, explains the Fighting Words model – based on the idea of writing as a creative skill in its own right, a teaching tool and a force for social change – and how it can be deployed in education at all levels and in all disciplines to unlock the potential of creativity.

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Roddy Doyle at the Creative Youth Conference, May 2021

Here Roddy gives an account of how the Fighting Words approach to creative writing with young people works, using examples from projects with young women in inner city Dublin, and talks about his own time as a teacher and the importance of the school for creativity and creative writing.

You can see Roddy 1:18-1:28 on https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/news/the-creative-youth-conference-2021/

Fighting Words and Drama in Education

Partnering with the School of Arts Education and Movement in the DCU Institute of Education, and the BEd Year 3 Drama Specialism group, Fighting Words supports student teachers to write, produce and perform a play. Together with Fighting Words mentors  the students explore themes related to children's rights and produce playlets in groups that are combined and presented to 6th class students in Glasnevin Educate Together National School. 

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Performance at Anam Festival
Drama performance of a play written at Fighting Words for the DCU Anam Festival

Collaborations at DCU

Fighting Words engages with students from other schools in the university and campus societies.

We have run workshops with maths educators, nursing students and intergenerational groups since 2018 and look forward to integrating "the write to right" further as our partnership strengthens and grows.

Recent initiatives include:

  • Science Fiction: Workshops with Moyle College students and DCU staff that resulted in the launch event for To the Future and Back Again.    
  • Songwriting: Workshops for students in the spring of 2021, with a focus on protest songs, took place online with Fighting Words Development and Outreach Officer Colm Quearney.
  • Playwriting: The Fighting Words Young Playwrights Programme was delivered online between November 2020 and March 2021 sponsored by the Anam Festival. The six workshops culminated in the performance of ten wonderful new short plays by young playwrights from across the island, live streamed on Zoom on 27 March 2021. Click here to read the plays.
  • Creative Anthology: Fighting Words mentors worked with the DCU Neurodivergent Society to produce an anthology of stories, poems and songs called The Art of Divergence.

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