Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Unpredictability of Creativity

I've been thinking a lot recently about the whole place of 'creativity' in education, and in particular whether we should see it as the means or the ends of the learning process. I have to say that my general position has been that we should give opportunity for creativity in our classrooms, because real learning may come from this. 

But I'm beginning to feel now that all learning that takes place should not only include the creative process but be directed towards that end. Perhaps it's chicken v egg stuff.

There's something about human nature, the one thing, in my humble opinion, that really sets us apart from the other wonderful species on our planet, and that is our creative urge. We need to create, and to see what we have created and share what we have created, be it tangible or intangible. 

I spent all of Wednesday with my class at their off-site technology programme, and I was blown away by how engaged they all were. You could see it in their faces, that their mind's eye had a vision of where they were going, and they were going for it. It really challenged me to think about my own classroom and what opportunities there are, on a daily basis, to be creative.

If you have the time, watch this inspiring talk by Sir Ken Robinson,  "Do Schools Kill Creativity".

He suggests that we are prioritising the wrong things, and I can't help but think that perhaps it is because if the ideas come from us as teachers, this is predictable (from our own point of view) and can be planned for. However,  what comes from the learners is completely unpredictable and out of our control. It's risky, it's messy, but it's what learners crave.

When we look at the way Web 2.0 is developing, it is completely about people taking something there, changing it, improving and sharing it.  And finding some fulfilment in doing so.  The tools of the read/write web are tools for creativity, and that has to be our deciding criterion when considering whether or not (and how) to use them in the classroom: how well do they excite the creative imaginations of our learners and give them an outlet? Or are they just bells and whistles...

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