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Reflections on ‘Creativity for Learning’

February 19, 2014

 

Before becoming a member of the Educade team I worked for an education consultancy firm and was involved in a training programme for teachers called ‘Creativity for Learning’.

The programme was developed by my colleague, an ex head teacher, who was studying for a PhD on the subject, and its themes (based on extensive research and years of teaching experience) really cemented my views on creativity and its relation to learning. She understood the important part creativity has to play in effective and quality learning.

I have recently been revisiting some of these themes to consider how the use of online resources might enhance creativity in learning, how we can ensure the learning resources we make foster creativity, and to enhance our own creative processes to producing them.

In addition I often watch TED talks and found a number of the talks in the playlist ‘The creative spark’ echoed the ideas underpinning the programme.

Here I outline the key thoughts I took from ‘Creativity for Learning’ and the talks I feel bear relation to them:

Creativity isn’t just a gift of the few, confined to the arts or sciences, its something we all have a capacity for.

During our creativity for learning sessions we would often talk to the participants about experiences they had had at school and what had turned them off certain subjects. Most often an incident had led them to feel that they were no good at the subject, after which point they would disengage.

In his talk ‘How to build your creative confidence‘ David Kelly (founder of design firm IDEO) reflects on such experiences and how they may lead to lack of belief in an individuals capacity to be creative. He explains how they work with people to bring their creative confidence back and highlights the importance and power of confidence.

Creativity is about exploring the possibilities (not always being focused on solutions) and embracing mistakes.

Stefon Harris beautifully demonstrates the idea that ‘mistakes’ can open up avenues to explore and possibilities in ‘There are no mistakes on the bandstand’

He explains how in improvisational jazz “every mistake is an opportunity” and it has to be accepted as such so that it can lead to something new, and that in order for creativity to flow you have to relinquish control and let it develop organically.

Creativity is about taking enjoyment in the journey of discovery, experimentation, making connections and working within boundaries.

Tim Brown’s ‘Tales of creativity and play’ looks at the importance of play in the creative process. Building on David Kelly’s perspective (he also works at IDEO) Tim believes we need to embrace the freedom play allows us as children and take it forward into our adult lives. He suggests that playing (by the rules) gives us a space in which to take risks and experiment.

Creativity should be integral to educations philosophy and practice as it promotes ownership, relevance and control, all essential to effective learning. The role of the educator is to create the right environment for, and allow the time and space for creativity to flourish.

These principles are reflected in the ideas of creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. He believes creativity is as important as literacy in education and is vital in preparing children for a future, which is unknown, but that the current education system with its foundations in the 19th century is too focused on academic ability and is killing rather than fostering creativity.

Watch his Ted talk ‘How schools kill creativity’

Also a rather nice animated (by RSA Animate) version of his talk Changing Education Paradigms

 

In light of these shared ideas we, Educade, have considered how they should influence what we create and the way in which we work.

The resources we develop will be built with creativity at their heart. The structured environments will be places where students feel safe and comfortable, free to play, take risks and explore. If question based activities are included, in order to encourage divergent thinking, questions (where possible) will be open, allowing for a range of solutions, rather than just a right or wrong answer. We will also (as appropriate) create opportunities for collaboration, as, noted by Ken Robinson, great learning often happens in groups.

The Educade working environment will also be one that is secure so that colleagues feel comfortable in sharing new ideas and as individuals we will always be open to new possibilities.

In order to reach creative solutions our development process allows time for play, experimentation and exploration (sometimes including the building of quick prototypes and role play). In addition discussions benefit from the setting of rules in which they operate.

In essence creativity is part of our philosophy and practice.

 

Laura, a Fine Art graduate, worked for a number of years at the education consultancy firm CCDU Ltd and Carnegie Leaders in Learning Partnership before returning to her artistic roots and becoming a freelance illustrator and graphic designer. She is currently a visual designer for Educade.

 

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