Saturday, October 14, 2006

Creativity and talent development.

  Posted by Picasa New Zealand is currently trying to escape the worst of a curriculum design that has all but destroyed creativity in our primary classrooms.

It has been depressing to have had to watch schools turning themselves inside out trying to implement (let alone assess) such techno –rational nonsense: Learning Areas, strands, levels and countless learning objectives. It has been depressing because many principals fell in line behind such demands – maybe they liked all the managerial power it gave them over their teachers? It has been depressing because many young teachers actually now know nothing better. And it has been depressing because teachers seem to want to thank the Ministry for lessening demands in the past or, as at present, redrafting it! Bit like thanking a prison guard for giving you a bigger cell!

Educators at any level in our school system seem to have been unable to present any real alternatives. There is a lack of creativity – the very creativity that our nation needs if we are to be a player in the 21stC!

I have to admit to feeling relieved after my first read of the new draft curriculum: out with all the confusing curriculum statements and those doubtful learning objectives; a new emphasis on school freedom to design programmes to suit their particular environment;and a renaming of essential skills to Key Competencies

All seemed well with the world.

But is it?

I have recently learned that there are ‘thoughts’ about school having to assess students achievment of individual key competencies. This would not only be a nightmare, and waste teachers time, but fragmenting competencies is simply old world industrialized thinking. Students should be assessed by what they can do, create, demonstrate and perform; on whole tasks not fragments.

And I also heard that the learning objectives, tacked uncomfortably at the end of the new draft, now that they have been reduced, it will be required for teachers to assess to ensure all students gain the ‘defined’ knowledge. This is the return of another industrialized concept – the future is about creating not memorizing.

Both the above create a greater nightmare than we just seemed to have escaped from. Assessing the key competencies will be like pinning down a shadow and ensuring all the defined objectives are covered is plain silly – understanding is different from knowing 'stuff', it is about being able to use knowledge in context.

I hope I am wrong.

What we really need is to ‘personalize’ education so as to develop the creativity and talents of all students, and this idea is hardly mentioned in the draft.

Our country, to thrive in an evolutionary future, will depend on the creativity and innovation of its citizens, and it is this 'creative power'that needs to be the focus of our education system. A strong talent based programme, with an emphasis on the creative arts and media, is the only way to: develop creative students able to work together, to be able to solve complex problems, to develop critical thinking, to be able ‘think outside the box’, and most of all to create new ideas and understandings.

It seems all this is beyond those who decide what we all ought to do (after cleverly gaining our approval without them telling us the true story).

I for one have withdrawn my support until the above issues are sorted out.

Creativity or ‘mind control’ – they can’t have both!

PS Anybody out there with information to share about assessing key competencies and objectives?


Anonymous said...

It just goes to show that old dogs can't learn new tricks - check out some of the recycled experts in the Ministry - old dogs they are! All hollow barking and no bite!

The Ministry is a talent free zone - if they had any talents they woudn't be there! Experts in education - all process no real love of learning through the inspiration provided by a desire to create.

All 'bounded rationality' no artistry! Their only talent is to modify ideas from other countries or business to push onto schools!

Compliance not creativity has been the name of the game!

Anonymous said...

If what you say is true then many schools have been 'sucked' into a false sense of all is well!

Hope schools think about the issues you mention during the day they have to consider the draft curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Centralized education is 'mind control' every time - it is OK if we all agree but compliance if we don't. Compliance never 'sticks' - it just gives the impression it does. It is a choice between conformity or courage - the former is easier and for most teachers more natural.

Anonymous said...

I can't see any progress in what is happening, it's just another mirage for teachers to walk towards for a decade or so before they realise there is nothing of substance to be seen. We need to return to the real art of teaching and learning, something that was more evident about 20 years ago!

Bruce said...

I have read all the associated notes for schools about the new draft - it is more what it doesn't say that worries me - and as well all too 'fluffy'!

Needs to be all about developing all students' talents and using key competencies to do so!

And there is no admitting that the previous NZCF was just plain wrong - all a natural progression!

Schools ought to take advantage of Ministry confusion!

Anonymous said...

The new draft is a typically polite document that avoids many important issues: the gaps between the various sectors particularly primary secondary; the fact that our secondary schools are premised on an industrial aged metaphor; a blind faith in 'key' competencies ( a very old idea) which puts the 'cart before the horse' as inspiration is the 'key' to learning; is light on pedagogy - particularly the need for an explicit cross curricular co-constructivist basis; does not mention the need to focus on students talents as the number one task; nor the need to personalize learning; and fudges the issue of what is really expected of assessment re competencies and the remaining objectives.

I give it 6 out of ten - at least all the nonsense has been lost from the NZCF - well almost. Where did all that technocratic crap come from? The same people who now give us the draft -makes you wonder?

All a bit back to the future!

Until 'we' face the reality that our school system is but a partial success at best we will never make a real difference. Politicians, and many school 'managers', it seems, avoid facing reality preferring popular support.

Anonymous said...

School are aways talking about developing 'their' students potential - without ever asking students what they want to develop.