Marsden Professional Learning Session 11

Today’s professional learning session was awesome! We were exploring creativity in practice. Teachers presented examples of how they develop creativity in their students. It was fantastic to see the outcomes students have produced – some really amazing stuff – but, more importantly, to hear about the means by which creativity has been encouraged.

One of the primary school staff spoke very thoughtfully about why creativity is so important. She touched on ideas about it being a higher order thinking skill as it aims for synthesis, building on prior knowledge and understandings. She used Albert Einstein’s quote, “creativity is intelligence having fun,” to talk about a culture of thinking flexibly and failing forward – things that don’t always come easily to our students. The emphasis was clearly on developing creativity no matter what the subject matter or context – that creativity doesn’t just mean art.

A senior manager also spoke to us about how her students have developed their creativity skills in her subject area. My favourite idea was that of constraints: that by putting tight barriers in place lateral, ‘outside the box’ thinking can be fostered.

it was also interesting that both speakers noted the benefits of BYOD – that by students having their own devices, the flexibility of learning and capturing learning was possible.

The only downside to the showcase was running out of time to have the workshops usually on offer. However, to hear concrete examples of pedagogy in practice was worth it.

Here is a copy of the wrap-around presentation I spoke to as a starter to this afternoon’s learning:

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Marsden Professional Learning Session 11

  1. Sonya Van Schaijik September 2, 2014 / 7:12 am

    ♥♥♥ the reflective writing Philippa. Using SOLO taxonomy creativity is extended abstract thinking. Creativity is even better when the children reflect on the process and share this. This is where devices are fabulous for capturing the learning.

  2. Artichoke September 3, 2014 / 7:54 am

    Many New Zealand educators and schools value creativity. Yet novel and innovative thought does not sit comfortably within institutions. The curious mind, the question, and the questioner, are not necessarily valued or encouraged in society, let alone in staffrooms and classrooms. Moltzen, describing the early educational experiences of highly-achieving creative New Zealand adults, uses the descriptors “fraught and miserable” (Moltzen, 2004).

    Koestler (1970) argues that creative activity, be it in humour, discovery, or art, is the result of a bisociative act. These are acts that juxtapose two ideas that normally do not get thought of together. Bisociation demands flexibility, and establishes an unstable equilibrium that leads to creative originality.

    How might we design teaching and learning to foster the creative act, instability and uncertainty, or bisociation? Is it necessarily an oxymoron to seek an “act of liberation … or “the defeat of habit by originality” in a school environment?

    Koestler’s argument would lead educators to rich frameworks for building creative endeavour, such as the use of a framework like SOLO Taxonomy to ensure students have deep understandings across diverse disciplines so they have something to think flexibly with or to use the bisociation involved in Fraser’s work with metaphor (Fraser, 2000).

    I think your primary colleague was on to it – “She touched on ideas about it being a higher order thinking skill as it aims for synthesis, building on prior knowledge and understandings. She used Albert Einstein’s quote, “creativity is intelligence having fun,” to talk about a culture of thinking flexibly and failing forward – things that don’t always come easily to our students.”

    Any alternative approach misrepresents creativity as “doing art” or as using “creative thinking” strategies – simple routines and activities like Bob Eberle’s SCAMPER or repeated rounds of extended brainstorming based on shallow understandings. You can see the influence of Torrance (1962) in this; indeed, “fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration” have become default criteria for what constitutes pedagogies for creativity in schools. It worries me that this mantra misrepresents infrequency as a form of originality, and overvalues elaboration and fluency in the creative process – it leads us to settle for Formica veneer creative outcomes in classrooms.

  3. pnicoll September 3, 2014 / 9:55 pm

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Pam. You started me exploring the concept of “bisociation” and I found this site quite useful: http://www.brainpickings.org/2013/05/20/arthur-koestler-creativity-bisociation/ .
    During the professional learning session, I also found it interesting the assumptions staff made about my ‘intended purpose’ behind the session starter: generate 100 ideas in relation to a ‘What if’ question. Some groups went about furiously generating ideas. When I announced that the most ideas I had seen were 16, one staff member commented: “But it’s quality, not quantity”, at which I disagreed. There was time to be discerning and evaluative later. Another staff member commented on the negativity of some of the ideas in the group, and thought that the purpose of the activity was to think positively about shifting our current pedagogy. Some groups chose not to write their ideas down at all, saying, “We’re discussing it.” All of these approaches to a creativity starter speak to some of the issues of engaging with creativity meaningfully within a school context. This is another reason that I love design thinking in the way it provides a loose structure or process. I can see that SOLO complements this too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s