Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Sharing the wisdom of creative teachers
A creative teacher taking advantage of the 'teachable moment'! A smelly but fascinating wasp nest
I have always enjoyed sharing the ideas of creative teachers.
I strongly believe that it is only from such teachers that realistic ideas are realized or developed. I gained this insight ( or wisdom) early in my career as an itinerant school adviser. In this role I was able to visit teachers whose rooms shone out through the creative accomplishments of their students; today we would say such rooms had the 'wow factor'. My original role may have been to give 'advice' but I learnt far more by observing such teachers and helping them as best I could.
I really enjoyed these teachers because they represented what education is all about - helping all students 'open their eyes' to new experiences and, in the process, developing whatever talents they had.
These teachers I observed worked hard but really enjoyed what they were doing. These teachers were extremely proud of what their students could achieve, whether their art work, their creative language, or the studies they undertook.
Thankfully such teachers still exist today and, to be honest, they were never to be found in great numbers - even if few in numbers their ideas had the power to spread far and wide assisted by advisers such as myself and by other teachers who had the good fortune to visit their rooms. To this day I believe that visiting creative teachers ( or better still creative schools) is the best way to develop professional wisdom. Seeing is believing - or at least believing it can be done! Today, during such visits, I observe true 'learning conversations' and transformations in the making.
Creative teacher, then and now, take professional risks, gaining satisfaction in the growth they see in their students -and growth that cannot always be easily measured. The growth such teachers 'feel' is the growth in human spirit that comes from students achieving beyond what they could have ever imagined without their teachers involvement but with the thought that they did it themselves!
Such teachers create their 'magical' classrooms by never accepting less than the best their students can do; they work hard to provide their students the courage to be learners not 'pawns'. Students, in such classrooms, learn their is always more to do that learning is a continual process of becoming.
Teachers, in such dynamic classrooms, are collaborators with each of their students on their personal learning journeys - a journeys where there can be no maps.
Creative teachers spin their, often uncertain, ideas into a tapestry of understanding that others can interpret, share and build on - and certainly I have been caught up in the 'magic' of it all.
So I write this 'blog' to share the insights of such teachers and to encourage others to do likewise; even if it means teachers 'stepping out of the box' of current expectations.
Today's teachers have the challenge to to 'weave their students spectrum of interests and talents' so they will be able to thrive in what will be an uncertain but exciting future.
My advice to teachers, who sense there is more to teaching than they currently experience, is to search out creative teacher to learn from and share with and, in the process, develop supportive networks to give each other the courage to be creative learners themselves.
In the past century progressive educator John Dewey wrote, ' One of the saddest things about ...education is that the wisdom of our most successful teachers is lost to to the profession when they retire'. Unfortunately it is all too often not recognised even before they retire.
Sculman (87) argues that, 'teaching is characterized by a collective and individual amnesia - the the consistency with which the best creations of its practitioners are constantly being lost to both current and future peers. There is a wonderful history of creative practice past and present we cannot afford to lose'.
There is a need to track down and share such creative teachers wisdom.
As we seem to be leaving the worst of the standardized curriculums, imposed the past decades, and enter what some are calling 'the age of ideas and creativity', a more creative 'personalised approach' will be vital.
A true revolution must be led by creative teachers - the 'others' will rush to join the parade when they see what it is creative teachers believe in is working.