A regular criticism leveled at education is the function (and sometimes the lack of) creativity in motivating and inspiring learning. Creativity these days is seen as something ‘special’ and worth capturing.
However, when it comes to creativity in education, there are many aspects to consider. Every student is creative in some way, and the job of educators is to release and support that creative talent in an appropriate manner. Of course, not every student is a musical Mozart or a scientific Stephen Hawkings. That is not the point for educators. The point is capturing creativity to empower knowledge transactions and in so doing also help prepare students for the digitally diverse and changing nature of our society.
A working definition of creativity is offered by Faultley & Savage (2010, p.6), which does capture nicely the transactions taking place in a learning environment such as a classroom.
Creativity involves mental processes; can involve action; is within a domain; is purposeful; and is novel (to the individual – ‘everyday’ creativity)
Teaching creatively and for creativity entails taking students on a creative journey where their responses are not predetermined. Teaching for creativity means that students will be producing ideas that may well involve novelty and possibly, experimentation. Teachers and students involved in teaching for creativity will be engaged with processes and although products may well be important it is in the process of creation where the true focus lies.
Craft (2005, p 42) identifies that teaching for creativity involves:
- the passing of control to the learner and the encouraging of innovative contributions;
- teachers placing a value on learners’ ownership and control, when innovation often follows;
- encouraging students to pose questions, identify problems and issues;
- offering students the opportunity to debate and discuss their thinking;
- encouraging children to be co-participant in learning, resulting in further control for learners over appropriate strategies for their learning;
- being at the least considerate and ideally ‘learner inclusive’, thus prioritising learner ‘agency’;
- encouraging ‘creative learning’, the construction of ‘creative learners’ and ultimately the ‘creative individual’.
So then what is meant by creative and critical thinking in education contexts?
Langer (2012 p. 67) proposes two major purposes that help shape our expectations, both of which result in “mind in action”, meaning-making moves with distinct functionality and motivation.
- to gain information and build concepts. (motivated primarily by an information-getting, retrieval, connecting and/or applying purpose)
- to engage in a more fluid and open-ended experience where we are not sure to where it might lead. (motivated primarily by a search to see purpose)
Together they contribute to intellect, and it is their joint availability that permits us to engage in the kinds of flexible cognitive interplay that supports intellectual functioning and intellectual growth.
Exploring horizons of possibilities, in a creative experience, we are guided by the open-ended search for ideas. To do this we not only call on what we can imagine, but also what we cannot yet imagine, in response to ideas or stimuli that we meet along the way of our search.
I can imagine that all these aspects of creativity have a good chance of being unleashed at the Pegasus Bay School. They want to broaden their horizons!
Craft, A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British journal of educational studies, 51(2), 113-127.
Fautley, M., & Savage, J. (2010). Creativity In Secondary Education. Learning Matters Limited.
Langer, J. (2012). The interplay of creative and critical thinking in instruction. In Dai, D. Y. (Ed.). (2012). Design research on learning and thinking in educational settings: Enhancing intellectual growth and functioning. Routledge.
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Thanks Judy for this inspiring post and clip of the Pegasus Bay school. It is wonderful to read and hear about these innovative projects which foster creativity, critical thinking and innovation. This is a post worth sharing! I think the statement, ‘Teaching creatively and for creativity entails taking students on a creative journey where their responses are not predetermined.’ perhaps clearly distinguishes how these approaches differ from structured, content- and assessment-driven approaches. 🙂
Classroom teachers need to let go of the rigid structure of curriculum and allow the students to work within the walls to develop their understanding of it. I use SOLE everyday in my classroom to give the students the freedom to make decisions.I support those decisions wholeheartedly. We discuss all aspects of it before they make a decision. I am always impressed by the quality of their questions, answers and decisions.
Thanks Judy. Really inspiring to see the Pegasus Bay clip.