Friday, February 02, 2007
Developing creative secondary schools.
To develop creative students we need to change a model designed for mass education into a personalised one
It was interesting to read, in an 'advertorial' for the University of Auckland, about the importance of developing interdisciplinary creativity.
They have combined several of their 'schools' to create the National Institute of of Creative Arts to encourage such creative diversity to flourish.
The article goes on to say that, 'creativity does not occur in silos. Creative solutions are born when different skills and perspectives come together within an interdisciplinary framework. As we interact in our communities and attempt to find meaning in our experiences, we become empowered by connectivity. Such a creative, connective approach - loosely dubbed "thinking and linking" - can facilitate innovative partnerships that overcome the limitations of traditional boundaries and allow diversity to flourish.'
It is a shame that secondary schools don't have the insight to do something similar for their students. The trouble is heads of the various subject departments prefer to protect their intellectual 'turf' rather than face up to the fact that they are trapped in fragmented organisations designed to produce students for a past industrial age. And, of course, the parents who have scrambled to enrol their children at the best of these traditional schools are not keen to see any changes.
All is not lost.
Their are some newly designed schools that do feature interdisciplinary studies and who value helping their students appreciate 'connectivity'. These schools place the emphasis , not on memorizing content, but in developing each students' special talents and research skills or 'learning power'. Led by principals with strong philosophies, such schools 'attract' an innovative staff.
These schools are the beginnings of the future of education at the secondary level. By exposing their students to range of integrated learning experiences their students develop an appreciation of their heritage, culture and environment. More importantly they provide an environment to develop each students unique talents and gifts.
In such schools what the students have learnt is to be seen by what they can do, demonstrate , perform and exhibit - often in multi media performances. Written exams are of little use to assess what students can do! . Such innovative schools, by integrating the diverse elements of the National Certificate of Education ( NCEA) into cohesive courses, are leading the way.
Hopefully the idea of this 'personalised learning' will spread until all parents demand it for their children having slowly learnt that the 'one size fits all' traditional school is no longer appropriate.
Students, in the future, will need to be aware of what they can contribute to any project and how to pool their collective intelligences. To do this they need to experience the power of collaborative and interdisciplinary learning at school.
Future schools will need to be seen as creative 'learning communities', rather than 'school factories', if they are to assist all students contribute to a creative society.
There is a lot of talk about this 'creative economy' but it will only 'flower' when schools themselves become 'creative communities'.