Sunday, July 31, 2011

Creativity and Creative Learning

Yesterday I blogged about my thoughts on the Creativity Wheel, developed by a school in Durham, following the presentation by Dr Pam Burnard of Cambridge University at RSCON.  Today I'm thinking more about the presentation and about the movement and energy that Dr Burnard described which is redefining the nature of learning.  Dr Burnard talked about how creativity is good for economies, societies, communities, for re-engaging the disaffected, enhancing learning and improving teachers' practice.  She mentioned the many government policies in the UK on creativity, but was clear that creativity needs to happen with teachers "change from the inside" and not be imposed from the top.  Teachers in the UK are often getting mixed messages:  they know they need to increase creativity, but the emphasis is still on "the basics", SATs and ranking in league tables.  Often teachers don't really know which way to move.

Dr Burnard asked a couple of questions:

  • What does it mean to be a creative teacher?
  • Whose creativity is being expressed in the classroom?
She showed us a video made in conjunction with students at the Daubeney Primary School in Hackney and talked about how this school was rebranded through the students' voices.  At one time teachers didn't want to work at the school, so didn't stay there long - teachers had to be recruited from South Africa and Australia to fill the vacancies.  In this video the students themselves appealed directly to UK teachers to think about moving to this school.

Dr Burnard then showed a slide about what is involved in creativity in education:

How can teachers best encourage creativity?  Her reply was that standing back is important - we should not interrupt the students' creations but instead give them the time and space which is necessary for creativity.

She went on to show some examples on YouTube of teachers who have successfully integrated creativity into their programmes.  The first one was from Pete Dale who teaches at a very disadvantaged school in Newcastle where over 70% of the students are reading at least a year below their chronological age and where 80% of the families are in the "Hard Pressed" category through unemployment.  Pete came up with a new music project to work with students and their interest in rappers and turntables.  He mapped the skills of rappers and DJs and aligned them with the traditional music curriculum.  By breaking into the curriculum in a transformative way, he has empowered the students and changed the experience of school for these boys.

Another teacher which has transformed the music curriculum of a school, leading to over 300 students opting to take music is Shannon Rogers.  Here is what her students are doing:

Another example that was shared by one of the teachers participating in the session was the video on using iPads to create music, embedding mobile and digital media into the lessons:

All these examples have shown teachers authoring change from inside the classroom and including the student voices in shaping the curriculum to make learning more creative.

Photo Credit:  Summer's Mandala by Cobalt123 AttributionNoncommercial 

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