Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Back to the real basics - Creativity

Tony Buzan - expert on creativity.

I was sent a link to listen to a presentation Tony Buzan gave to some United Kingdom teachers and thought it worth sharing his message.

Buzan believes passionately that schools are about developing the creative potential of all students. He believes that, with what we now know about the brain, this is entirely possible. So much for our acceptance of our current appalling 20% failure rate!

Buzan, quoting research on creativity, states that95% of pre-schoolers are creative, 75% of primary students, 40/50% of secondary students, 20/25% of university and college students and for adults only 10%.

This loss of creativity Buzan believes is global crisis.

Our students as they 'progress' through school become less creative. And that this is seen as normal! We are teaching, he says, 'un creativity'. This decline is a result of the teaching students receive and this teaching is contributing to a decline of natural genius in our students.

The good news is, he says, is that normal is not natural.

The current emphasis is on learning - not learning how to learn. We have an important choice, Buzan believes,teach students what to learn or how to learn. No choice according to Buzan - teach students how to learn. Value your students creativity and develop their cognitive skills and do this in realistic contexts.

What we have been doing for 150 years, says Buzan,is placing the focus on learning content. The imposition of curricula has resulted in decline in global creativity.

Buzan believes there is brilliance in every one of us. Achieving is increasingly possible as we now have brain research to help us unleash this brilliance. The teachers role is to 'provide the soil to nurture the brilliance of the creative process'.

Creative intelligence is now the worlds greatest asset - future developments will be 'fueled by creativity'. Sixty percent of future jobs will be in the creative sphere.

Buzan believes young people 'grow their brains' through exposure to stimulating experiences. At birth they are all potential to be realized. Brains to grow need nurturing in creative environment so as to allow their braincells to make connections - to develop what Buzan call their 'internal architecture'.

Unfortunately at school teaching is all too often too linear, predetermined and compartmentalized discouraging such important integrated brain connections.

The teachers role is to 'engage' the the brain and to encourage it to create it's own meanings. This engagement is essential.

This is not about curriculum versus creativity. Creativity, Buzan states, is the 'fuel of all curriculums'. Learning ought not to be seen as hard as it is natural, spontaneous, generative and creative.

Creativity is not 'airy or fairy'. Creative people are disciplined, the are focused and they have the ability to see differences making use of multiple perspectives. Genius arises from rich internal worlds.

Creative teachers make use of all the curriculum's. They need to teach children how to learn and for then to understand the process of cognition. What teachers need are creative curriculum's.

Buzan sums up his presentation by saying it is about 'the need to nurture nature'.

That there are no limits and that all students can be creative given the right environment. The 'teacher gives the light and loam' to develop such creativity.

The real 'back to basics' is to 'give teaching back to the students and the teachers to give learning back to the students'.

IT all make sense to me!

We need a creative school movement!


Bruce Hammonds said...

I couldn't help, while writing the blog about Buzan, that there is little real creativity to be seen in our current schools. At the secondary level content and compartmentalized teaching is as it has been the past 100 years.

In primary schools the focus is still on literacy and numeracy. There is littLe evidence of student questions, views, ideas and creative responses.All you see is low level ( if colourful) activites done to the teacher's plan - usually related to literacy.

We have a long way to go to develop creative schools based on an 'emerging' and ever deepening curriculum ( one calling on the various disicplines) as students progress through school.

A creative education would be premised on realizing the talents, passions, gifts and dreams of all students.

I can only think of a few creative teachers that really ever understood creativity - am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

The choice is of teaching students a curriculum they have litte interest in, or taking advantage of students interests and making use of the various curriculum disciplines as required. The first is mass education ( 'one size fits all') the second 'personalised learning' ( tailoring the curriculum to students needs.)

Bruce Hammonds said...

Yes to the second.