Thursday, February 21, 2013

Creative schools – schools as true learning communities.

Let's put Sir Ken's ideas into action.

It sure isn’t a good time to be involved in education.
First there is the major distraction of the pay debacle of Novapay causing time hungry checking and recording activities and stress in almost all schools.
Worse still is the growing emphasis on the testing of literacy and numeracy in schools. Read what ex Senior Inspector of Primary schools, a long-time supporter ofholistic education, Kelvin Smythe has to say. What a potential nightmare.  And it will get worse as testing becomes more established, tied into National Standards and as , sooner or later, competitive ‘league tables' as seen in  seen in the England will result.   And as part of this will come teaching to the tests ( cheating) and the narrowing of the curriculum to tested subjects.
As a result on this growing emphasis on assessment comes with a raft of so called 'evidence based best practices’.
I am almost at a point of giving up my crusade for creative education because it seems a losing battle. In Australia ex Director of Primary Education Queensland PhilCullen has finally given up a long fight against the evils of an over emphasison testing in basic subjects. He is disappointed that teacher and principal organisations did not have the courage to confront such politically inspired approach.
So called ‘best practices’ are now well established in our primary schools spread by contractual advisers. While they may seem to offer schools a means to ensure consistency across classrooms, even some degree of quality, they, if not used carefully lead to the side-lining of creativity and individuality. It seems all class teachers now use WALTS (we are learning that), success criteria, intentional teaching, feedback and (teacher determined) feed-forward.
The trouble is that all the above ‘best practice’ techniques is that they ‘teach’ the students to replicate , or deliver, what the teacher believes to be the indications of success.
Einstein would be hard to assees?
This creative mind-set makes a real difference. Such teachers would be appalled at the clone like consistency of student work whether it is a science project, language work and even the most creative area of all art.
A ‘community of best practice’ follows the guidance of experts from outside of the school or classroom while ‘learning organisations’ value the inspiration of creative teachers.
The emphasis chosen makes a big difference.
The current government is pushing narrow ‘best practice’ approach to teaching by emphasising testing and National Standards.
 In contrast the side-lined 2007 New Zealand Curriculum encourages a ‘learning organisation’ approach where each learner is to be seen as a ‘seeker, user and creator of their own knowledge’.
I wishschools would take the advice of Sir Ken Robinson who sees the school’s main role to develop the gifts and talents of all students. He also say that ‘creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy’ a thought that echoes Guy Claxton who says ‘learnacy is as important as literacy and numeracy.
If the ideas of Sir Ken and Guy Claxton ( and many others) were to be taken seriously, along with the NZC ‘s phrase of students as seekers user and creators’ schools would be totally transformed.
At least ‘best practice’ schools could add to their criteria that whatever is undertaken the results should celebrate the individuality or creativity of every students.


Jody Hayes said...

You'll be pleased to hear that some push back is happening for WALT's etc. Ewan McIntosh ( said that the recent International Conference onThinking held in Wellington, NZ, that we must move away from them and begin the process of design thinking. His keynote is available on EdTalks.
Don't give up Bruce, you inspire many including me!

Bruce Hammonds said...

Thanks Jody - re-assuring.Will check out the keynote. What is the design thinking process - a form of inquiry learning?

Anonymous said...

Great blog Bruce. I would be interested in how you see a day panning out in such a creative classroom compared to traditional timetabling - where literacy and numeracy blocks take up most of the morning?

Bruce Hammonds said...

Hi anon - I will think about it and make it into a blog.