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Teacher's Guide to Creativity

Yesterday I finished reading one of the greatest books of 2011. I have been quoting some of its ideas into some articles here in Educational Technology and Mobile Learning  and I guess you are already familiar with it and if not with the book then definitely with the Author. Who does not know the creativity pioneer Sir Ken Robinson? The video he made on TED about creativiy has been watched by millions of people all around the globe.

The book is called Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative and deals with the topic of creativity in education as has never beem dealt with.It is really inspiring and provides creative tips and methods of how teachers can make a change via simply understanding and knowing how creativity works. This book is not to be missed. I have already read the whole book and have summarized for you the most interesting parts into three topics : Teaching for creativity, Creative curriculum, and creative assessment.

I- Teaching for creativity For Mr Robinson ( Pages269 to 277 ) there are three related tasks in  teaching for creativity : Encouraging, Identifying, and Fostering. 1- Encouraging Many people do not think of themelves as creative and lack the confidence to take even the first steps. The first task in teaching for creativity in any field is to encourage people to believe in their potentail and to nurture the confidence to try. Other attitudes important for creative learning inclucde : high motivation and independence of judgement, a willingness to take risks and be enterprising, to be persistent and to be resilient in the face of false starts, wrong turns and dead ends. 2- Identifying A second role is to help students discover their own creative  strengths. Everyone can learn the general skills of creative thinking. In addition, we all have personal creative capacities, a creative musician is not necessarily a creative scientist... Identifying people's creative abilities includes helping them to find their creative strengths, to be in their element. 3- Developing The thrid role is to develop the skills of independent creative work. Teaching for creativity aims to encourage sel-confidence, independence of mind, and the capacity to think for oneself. In teaching for creativity teachers aim to :
  • Promote experiments and inquiry and a willingness to make mistakes
  • Encourage generative thought free from immediate criticism
  • Encourage the expression of personal ideas and feelings
  • Convey and understanding of phases in a creative work and the need for time
  • Develop and awareness of the roles of  intuition and aesthetic processes
  • Encourage students to play with ideas and conjecture with possibilities
  • Facilitate critical evaluation of ideas
Now that we have understood the basics of teaching for creativity let us have a brief look at the kind of curriculum that Sir Ken thinks can develop creativity and the kind of assessement teachers need to apply in their classroom to nurish creative minds.
Curriculum The curriculum is the content - the ideas, skills, knowledge, information, values - that students are expected to learn. It has two basic functions: the first is to organize knowledge so that it can be taught and the second function is managerial meaning that schools need a curriculum so that they can organize and manage themsleves, know how many teachers to hire, what resources are needed , how to arrange the day...a curriculum is a management tool  that is translated into the schedule. Therefore, a balanced curriculum should give equal status and resources to literacy and numeracy, the sciences, the arts, the humanities, and to the physical education. Emphasis should be divided equally on each discipline and not as some schools do when they emphasize languages and the so called STEM disciplines ( Science, Mathematics, Technology and Engineering ) at the expense of the Arts, Humanities, and Physical Education. It is essentail that there is an equal balance between these areas of the curriculum because each reflects major areas of cultural knowledge and experiences to which all students should have equal access. Each address different modes of intelligence and creative development. The strengths of any individual may be in one or more of them. A narrow unbalanced curriculum will lead to a narrow unbalanced education. Assessment Assessment is the process of making judgements about the students's progress and attainment. The problem for creative education is not the need for assessment but for the nature of it. Assessment should support students learning and achievement. In practice, it tends to dominate the priorities and the genral ethos of education. Assessment has several roles  heere are the three main ones:                 1-The first is Diagnostic Students may be given test and assignments of various sorts to help teachers understand their aptitude and  level s of development in  various areas.                  2- The second is Formative The purpose of this is to gather evidence on students progress to inform teaching methods and priorities for further work.                  3- The third role is summative This is about making judgements on overall  performance at the conclusion of a program of work . Methods of assessment can take many forms:  from informal  judgements in the classroom, to formal assignements and public examinations. They can draw on many forms of evidence : from students participation in class, to portfolios of work, to writen essays and assignemnts in other media. Assessing creative development is more complex and nuanced than testing factual knowledge. Creative work has to be original and of value. But there are different types and degrees of originality. Judging value depends on a clear sense of relevant criteria. Teachers are often unclear about the criteria to apply to students work and may lack confidence in their own judgement. They should keep in mind that the creative process usually passes through different phases. It may invlove false starts, trial and error, and a series of successive approximations along the way to the finsihed work. The educational value of creative work lies as much in the process of conceptual development as in the creation of the final product. Assessment  has to take this into account and teachers often need advice on how this should be done. Insensitive assessment can damage students creativity and may encourage them to take a safe option, avoiding experimentation and never learning how to find and correct their mistakes. I am actually reading his second book The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything and once I am done with it I will brief you on the main points it discusses.

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