Does creativity have a dark side?

2019-01-30T21:28:15+00:00January 30th, 2019|Featured|

Of course it’s desirable that students are able to identify problems, generate potential solutions, evaluate the effectiveness of those strategies, and then communicate with others about the value of the solutions. If you want to call this 'creativity,' so be it. But it may be that creativity isn't always desirable. Kaufman and Beghetto argue in their wonderfully titled paper, In Praise of Clark Kent: Creative Metacognition and the Importance of Teaching Kids When (Not) to Be Creative, that teachers need to encourage restraint in students and that often it is much more efficient to follow well-established processes rather than trying to think of [...]

What do we mean by ‘skills’?

2017-04-14T20:39:12+01:00November 10th, 2016|Featured|

Any definition of skills depends on knowledge. Joe Kirby has written persuasively about skills and knowledge forming a double helix - inseparably intertwined and mutually interdependent. This is definitely a more helpful way to think, but it might be even better to abandon the term 'skills' altogether. Is riding a bike a skill? Well, if we mean is it a set of procedures, which we can master to the point that we're able to cycle without having to think about it then, yes it is. Is essay writing a skill? Well, it's not the same sort of thing as riding a bike, but yes, it's another set of [...]

More guff on creativity

2016-06-13T11:20:24+01:00February 3rd, 2016|myths|

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources. (One of my favourite fake Einstein quotes.) What is it about creativity that makes so many otherwise sensible people say such silly things? Most of us can only watch in awed wonder as the truly creative turn out one marvellously realised idea after an other. There's a tendency to see it as evidence of some sort of mysterious, spooky 'otherness' which us normal folks just don't possess, but it's largely agreed that creativity is, if not directly teachable, at least possible to foster. The trouble is, being creative at say, making Lego models, doesn't make [...]

20 psychological principles for teachers #8 Creativity

2015-06-07T10:44:11+01:00May 31st, 2015|psychology|

In this, the eighth in a series of posts examining a report on the Top 20 Principles From Psychology for Teaching and Learning, I take a closer look at Principle 8: “Student creativity can be fostered." Of all the psychological principles I've read about, this seems the weakest. The report starts badly: "Creativity—defined as the generation of ideas that are new and useful in a particular situation—is a critical skill for students in the information-driven economy of the 21st century." Anything suggesting the 21st century demands fundamentally different skills than previous centuries is guaranteed to get my back up, but the idea that [...]

The dark art of creativity

2014-04-12T12:32:29+01:00April 11th, 2014|myths|

I was recently reminded of the 'schools are killing creativity' trope that was so prevalent a few years ago. Tempting as it may be to nod along with Ken Robinson and his cronies, it's worth contemplating the creative power of constraints. Without clear knowledge of forms and ‘rules’, creativity is inevitably stifled. Ideas become a kitchen-sink soup with everything chucked into the pot with little regard for structure or purpose. Children’s imaginations are already pretty vast and the younger the child, the greater the depth of their imagination. We don’t need to teach this, it just is. Sir Ken claims that children arrive [...]

Teaching creatively vs teaching creativity

2013-11-02T20:36:49+00:00May 20th, 2012|learning|

What is creativity? Can it be taught? Can it be aped or emulated? Or is copying something that someone else is doing, by its very nature, a lack of creativity? Oft quoted creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson calls creativity 'the process of having original ideas that have value'. Creativity "comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things". Maybe. Creativity is also defined as the ability to think divergently, or to put ideas together in new and surprising ways. I'm sure, given sufficient time and inclination you could come up with hundreds of divergent ideas on what creativity [...]

Creativity, analysis and comparison

2013-09-22T15:22:20+01:00February 11th, 2012|English, literacy, reading, writing|

English teachers have a tough gig. We need to constantly hone the hard-edged skill of analysis whilst simultaneously encouraging the fluffy stuff of creativity. There’s a lot said and written about creativity these days, much of it by Sir Ken Robinson. Basically, Ken's argument goes along these lines: schools should value the Arts more highly and find ways to foster creativity in those subjects where it doesn’t necessarily appear naturally. We should do this because creativity (the ability to have new ideas which have value) is increasingly important in a world where jobs that don’t require creativity have disappeared or outsourced to [...]

Does group work work?

2011-07-18T22:17:05+01:00July 18th, 2011|learning|

Have just been reading 59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman (@RichardWiseman) and am rather dismayed to note that contrary to popular belief, but according to scientific research, groups are less creative than individuals! Does this mean that by getting students to work in groups I have been stifling their creativity? Apparently this is down to what Wiseman calls 'diffusion of responsibility'. Because there are other people to take the blame, we make less effort when we are part of a team. The consensus view in education now seems to be all about groups. Is this just a vogue? Does it need [...]

Rip it up: Hula hooping about literature

2018-12-16T22:59:11+00:00July 16th, 2011|English, learning|

I keep this post on the site to remind me just how far I've come. When I wrote this in 2011, despite teaching for 12 years, I knew practically nothing about education. I am now rather ashamed and embarrassed at my naivety but it's good, i think, to remind our selves that we all have feet of clay.  If you do decide to read on please know that I would now disavow pretty much everything that follows.  December, 2018 Day 1 Have just finished reading Phil Beadle’s book, Dancing About Architecture at 2.39 am. I received it in the post today and tore [...]

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