Thursday, September 13, 2007

Philosophy for creative classrooms

In the 60 and 70 the environment was more encouraging for creative teachers. May be it is time to return to the creativity of the 60s but this time do it properly?

Developing classroom's as creative learning environments is a challenge worth taking up as we enter what some are calling a 'New Creative Era' -in some cases comparing it to the Renaissance of the 1400s. Certainly we need to escape from schools 'designed' in, and for, an industrial age with its mass production 'one size fits all 'mentality.

But first we need to think about what true creativity involves.

Being creativity is all too often seen in simplistic terms and as such not taken seriously as numeracy and literacy.

To be creative requires individuals to question everything and to hold on to their well thought out views even if everybody else thinks differently. Creativity is not to be seen restricted to 'crazy' artists, or scientist, but is a trait all humans possess in all fields of endeavour. It is, at its simplest, the basis of the learning process as through experience individuals 'invent' themselves. As well, being creative is not just magically thinking of new ideas out of the blue, it often involves real effort, hard work, perseverance, and time to realize. And, to make things complicated the creative process is often messy and frustrating until realized.

Once these ideas have been comprehended, and shared with, and appreciated by, the parents creative teaching can begin.The promise made to parents is to do everything possible to develop the gifts and talents that their children bring to the school situation and in the process keep alive their joy of learning.

Creative teachers believe it is the students 'right to be able to express their own feelings, to give their views of events, to explain themselves, to reflect on their own behaviour, to have their fears and hopes taken seriously, to ask questions, to seek explanations, to love and be loved, to have their dreams, fantasies and imaginings taken seriously, and to make their own engagement with life.' ( cited in Croft 2000).

Such ideas would transform our education system.

Imagine schools that focus on developing all the gifts and talents of their students.

Imagine schools that focus on using such gifts to drive learning in such areas as literacy and numeracy - that see such skills as means of expressing thoughts ideas and relationship through all sorts of media in ways that make sense to the learner.

students being helped by their teachers to be more curious, to ask nore questions, to value their 'prior ideas' and to have the desire and skills to search for even better answers.

student who have the passion and intellectual courage to defend their ideas, and to work to achieve them, against all odds?

If we want to become a creative country these are the kind of students we need. Students who still retain the joy of learning, no matter the difficulties.

Such an 'enlightened' view of education challenges the current traditional 'status quo' of a system developed for a past industrial age.

Re-imaging education will lead to the 'emergence' of a creative culture
, one with the possibilities of solving problems which today we find impossible.

Schools must be places to allow such creative possibilities to evolve.


Anonymous said...

Imagine trying to explain what you are setting out to do to parents ... hmm... if there was just somewhere they could visit it in action so I could try to show them what I dream about being able to do - if I ever get it straight in my head.

Bruce said...

Thanks for thinking about what I am trying to express these days - about the need to re-imagine our schools so as to base learning on the development of kids intrinsic talents and gifts in a social and collaborative environment.

I am sure most parents want to keep the spirit of learning alive in their kids; to be reminded that, before their kids even got to school, some pretty impressive learning had already been achieved, and without an 'expert' in site! Teachers, to often, dis-empower - this is one reason so many kids fail to achieve.

All the schools need to do is to continue what has been achieved and to capitalize on the interests and experiences the students bring with them. Respectful relationships towards their students are required to temp them to become involved in new experiences and, most of all, to value what they think and feel.

Such a lot of wonderful opportunities to learn are squandered by teachers, side- tracked by an over emphasis on literacy and numeracy. In the process lots of equally important ways of experiencing and expressing ideas are neglected.

It is my belief that if parents could just see what fantastic writing, thinking , drawing and creative art their childen could do with teachers, who actually believe in their kids, they would be really happy. Such teachers, to earn parental praise, would have to understand the creative process and have the skills to come along side their students to challenge and assist them do work that will suprise, not only the kids, but their parents.

I am sure it would work. Just needs teachers with the faith and courage of their convictions.

As it is I see lots of teachers filling in time with doubtful reading and maths activities, activities that only suit the kind of kids who would succeed anyway.

And a lot of work I see on display is hardly deep and challenging, let alone cteative. Wouldn't be hard to do better work!

Well, that's what all my experience and observation tells me.