Tamara Bibby (2018) The creative self: psychoanalysis, teaching and learning in the classroom. London & New York. Routledge 169 pages
Bibby is a teacher and educationalist who comes as a breath of fresh air in an environment where the politicisation and commodification of education threatens to undermine the core role of adults and institutions in providing the facilitating environment in which children can learn and mature.
The ‘psychoanalysis’ of her book title is principally Winnicottian with particular emphasis put on those concepts which enable or disable creativity in pupils / students across the whole age range and in their teachers. Under the three broad headings of “Things that go right”, “Things that go wrong” and “Working it through” she demonstrates her familiarity with children’s development, their life in school, the being-with-them in school and the challenges faced by teachers in their institutions. Bibby describes and operationalises concepts such as the True Self / False Self, Transitional Processes and the antisocial tendency. Her writing is eloquent and accessible. She presents us with readily recognisable scenarios. Through these she presents formulations which take us to some of Winnicott’s original statements, in a way which will enable readers who wish to study the ideas further well placed to engage with those original texts and other publications in the Winnicottian tradition. For those who are new to the ideas, Bibby provides an excellent introduction to Winnicott and there is great value in her book as a more general introductory text, beyond the educational environment. Those already familiar with the concepts and the setting may learn other, perhaps better, ways of communicating about the theories and find ways of enhancing their own learning and teaching.
The Creative Self is extremely well written, both in its content and its style. It is a very welcome addition to the literature demonstrating the application of psychoanalytic ideas and can be strongly recommended to all those involved with children’s education, mental health and welfare whether as professionals, policy makers or as carers.
Further titles by Tamara Bibby: Education – An ‘Impossible Profession’? Psychoanalytic Explorations of Learning and Classrooms (2011, Routledge) and Knowing and Not Knowing: Thinking psychosocially about learning and resistance to learning. (co-edited with Claudia Lapping, 2016 Routledge):
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