Over the past couple of weeks I have attended several events which have focussed on creativity in education, writes education blogger Kit Field. In some cases this has related to senior management teams and in others to pupils’ learning in the classroom.
Over the past couple of weeks I have attended several events which have focussed on creativity in education. In some cases this has related to senior management teams and in others to pupils’ learning in the classroom.
I also watched the YouTube clip above, which points out a few interesting facts including how jobs that children will do in the future haven’t even been invented yet.
So, in short, we will need tomorrow’s adults to be creative, to shape future society.
Can we teach creativity? With a national curriculum, standardised testing and schools measured against standard criteria, I found myself asking if the climate for creativity exists, or if we actually thwart innovation in our schools.
For school leaders, some argue there is more freedom. Academies are accountable on a contractual basis as opposed to a statutory one. The Government has announced that the National Professional Qualification for Headteachers is no longer to be statutory – and therefore we can assume that aspiring headteachers no longer need to demonstrate compliance to national standards. Does ‘freeing up’ lead to young people being creative?
My first question is, what is creativity? For some it is inventing new things, new ways of thinking and doing things. For others it is about uncovering new forms of knowledge. And for others it is about using existing knowledge in new contexts. All these require children to have space – time to think and to experiment.
Creative learning often happens by chance. By seeking the solution to a problem, it is possible to discover something related but different.
The space to think and reflect is essential. I rarely have an imaginative thought in a formal meeting – I am too tied into an agenda. My imagination works better when I am driving home, when I am in the bath, or thoughts may flash through my mind when I am watching TV. All that said, I also need to have some basic knowledge and understanding to spark off those thoughts.
In the context of children, I wonder therefore what should be done where? Clearly providing the foundation knowledge should occur in the classroom. But, the classroom also provides an opportunity for children to play with ideas, to share thoughts and is a safe place to propose new ideas.
One of my own thoughts is that a teacher-dominated classroom can be a barrier to creative thinking. On the other hand, one of the best ways to succeed in tests and examinations is to do as the teacher says.
At a residential event recently, one young teacher explained to me that his year 11 class were taking their GCSE for the third time. In between they sat mock examinations and every half term had to take standardised tests. He was asking when he had the time to teach that class at all.
On another occasion I was working with a teacher on a focus for his Masters dissertation. He explained that he had met his targets by increasing success rates at GCSE Science by a huge amount. He proceeded to say that the number of pupils opting to study sciences at A-level had dropped. He was asking how you can gain examination success and promote a love of the subject at the same time!
Nobody would care more than teachers if examination scores fell, or if pupils didn’t complete the syllabus, but I am bound to ask if we have the balance right. Do we want pupils who can answer questions related to the past and present, or do we need to assist them in shaping an uncertain and unknown future?
Professor Kit Field is Dean of the School for Education Futures at the University of Wolverhampton.