Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Teachers' key role in fostering creativity.

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It is worth thinking about the dispositions and pedagogical skills that make a creative teacher.
The key attitude is a desire to help every individual student develop his ,or her, own particular set of interests and talents rather than simply 'delivering' the curriculum in an innovative way. The curriculum need to 'emerge' from the students' felt concerns
Essential characteristics of creative teachers, according to one US researcher,are a commitment to: deepen the understandings of the world of each learner; believe in the creative ability of all students; encourage empathy in students; value creative expression in learners; teach in ways that facilitate it; adapt the curriculum to meet students individual needs.These are all in line with recent ideas of 'personalising' learning - developing with learners, and their parents, 'individual learning plans'.
These are a mix of attitudes and teaching skills - the 'art and craft' of teaching - a long was from the 'delivering' of imposed curriculums. Teachers will need the sensitivity to balance teaching skills with leaving their students free to get on with things; an appropriate mix of structure and freedom. The criteria teachers need to keep in mind is to always enlarge their students vision and allow them to expand their imagination.
The creative teachers focus must be on the learner by developing a problem solving approach to curriculum promoting and valuing creative thinking and diversity of opinion; mixing a blend of high support and high expectations that students can solve their own problems. To develop real creativity students need the freedom to pursue question that concern them. 'Creativity killers' are inflexible timetables, intense competition,compartmentalized subject teaching and imposed curriculum assessment practices.
It is important for students to learn to appreciate that not all creativity is easily achieved, more the opposite . Most creative individuals have had to persevere and apply themselves over long periods of time - and for some this involves intense practice. Creative individuals are challenged by ambiguity and comfortable with seeing things from a range of perspectives - using what some scientists call enlightened trial and error; or in the art world constant improvisation.
Creative teaching is no easy option but an exciting experience in itself with all the risks and wrong turnings of any creative activity. It requires a faith in young people , given the right conditions, to take a growing responsibility to develop their own personal meanings. Not a career for those with tidy minds who feel it important to measure and pre-plan everything.
It all boils down to a belief in teachers of a child's right to an identity based creative thought and personal expression. Creative teachers, to survive, need an enlightened vision of education that appreciates the importance of developing every learners interests talents, gifts and dreams and, most of all, an openness in all learners to new learning.
Our future society needs all the 'creative capital' it can get.
Schools have an obligation to ensure every student develops his ,or her, particular mix of talents.
'All of us have do not have equal talent but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talents'.
John F Kennedy


Anonymous said...

It is not possible for teachers to develop their students' creativity if the conditions do not first exist for teachers themselves to use their intitiative. Students learn habits, for better or worse, from their teachers. Creative environments ( or learning cultures) breed creativity. Creativity, in the right conditions, is contageous!

Anonymous said...

It would seem the whole idea of an imposed curriculum is past its 'use by date' - the learning process needs to be inspired by tasks that are of concern, or challenge, to the learners. Students need to learn what they need as and when they need it - 'just in time' rather than 'just in case'.This makes the teachers role more exciting than ever.