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Creativity in the classroom

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Creativity in the classroom


What changes need to be made when the development of cognitive skills required for progressive learning reaches a standstill?

When teaching and learning concentrates too much on content and knowledge at the expense of higher-order cognitive skills, improvement in the classroom stagnates. What changes need to be made when the development of cognitive skills required for progressive learning reaches a standstill?
 
To achieve a higher-order of thinking, the traditional, teacher-centred style of learning is simply not enough. Students need to be taught what to do with their knowledge in an active way, and to be given the space and time to do something about it. In response to this, Creative Pedagogy transforms passive students who were previously reliant on their teachers, by creating a space for active and responsive learning.

The founder of Creative Pedagogy defines the process as one which “teaches learners how to learn creatively and become creators of themselves and creators of their future" (Aleinikov 2013). Becoming "creators of their future" shifts the focus from the teacher to the student, allowing children to become the directors of their own learning. Taking responsibility increases the child’s awareness of how they learn, consequently creating a group of learners who think deeply about their work, even after the bell has rung. Continued engagement is inspired in the “Thinking Skills” approach, which creates a culture of enquiry that extends beyond the classroom, to life at home too. Crucially, the learning of content in Creative Pedagogy isn’t viewed as an end of instruction, but rather as a vehicle for activating and engaging the mind. 

The practice of Creative Pedagogy places importance on the role that teachers play in their students’ learning. Teachers are required to be informed about how to teach creatively, to consider alternate possibilities and to understand problems in new, inventive ways. A creative pedagogy is recognised within a teacher’s ability to develop alternate methods of relaying information, in an effectively engaging manner. Continued professional development is essential in order for teachers to adopt creative approaches to their lessons. The need for teachers to learn how to teach creatively is especially evident in the creative approach, “Flipped Learning”. This pathway to creativity depends on the teacher’s understanding of which environments work best in order to enhance creative thinking. The road to a creative classroom starts with your own understanding of this style of learning.

All of the articles in this Knowledge Bank focus on creative learning through a sense of community and collaboration between the teacher and student. For example, De Bono’s “Six Thinking Hats” encourages everyone to all look in the same direction, together. Collaboration opens up new lines of enquiry which would otherwise lay undiscovered.

A number of the teaching methods featured in the articles are detailed below, designed to inspire creativity across the curriculum:

The Six Thinking Hats
Created by Edward De Bono in the 1970s, "The Six Thinking Hats" are a set of tools which promote divergent thinking. The 'hats' allow children to shift their own point of view in order to see both sides of the argument. The class discussion is moved away from the adversarial, towards a collaborative approach, allowing even the quietest students the space to speak. By creating new ways of thinking, the 'hats' remind children that there are multiple ways to approach a problem (rather than its initial default mode) and encourage them to question their learning.

The Mantle of the Expert
Developed over several decades by Dorothy Heathcote, this dramatic–inquiry approach demands that pupils and teacher interact as colleagues to create a learning community. Within this community, the class carry out their work as if they are an imagined group of experts. For example, during science lessons students are required to imagine themselves as real scientists. Gradually, the fictional context of the learning translates across to real life, as the children take on some of the responsibilities, problems and challenges that may be faced by professionals in the real world.
 
Flipped Learning
Inspired by Benjamin Bloom’s classification of ‘higher order thinking’, flipped learning means that students are doing the lower levels of cognitive work in their spare time, whilst focusing on the higher ordered thinking in the classroom. The article based on “Flipping classrooms” details the improvements seen as a result of physically rearranging the learning space, in order to accommodate different lessons and to support either group or independent study. Changing the environment creates a fle in which students can choose their own method of learning. Encouraging children to present and share their learning in different styles supports them in engaging in their education.

 
Imaginative Education
A teaching and learning method based on engaging imaginations. This model addresses how young people at different ages engage with knowledge and learning. To provide the cognitive tools available to children at their particular stage of development, the "Imaginative Education" approach has three frameworks: Mythic, Romantic and Theoretic. Within each stage there are a range of cognitive tools designed to drive the learning process. This method of teaching demands the imaginative educator to value and build on the way the child understands content, rather than focusing on the 'adult' way of understanding. It requires both teachers and students to be imaginative and sensitive to new dimensions of learning which could help a child’s progression.
 
Thinking Skills Starters
Based on shared values and collaboration, the "Thinking Skills" approach presents the unknown as a positive concept. Implementing "Thinking Skills" across the curriculum forms spontaneous and creative learners in all subjects. The model is designed to create interesting, open-ended tasks which encourage students to continue thinking about the problems beyond the classroom. These create a classroom culture in which everyone learns together, rather than one where only teachers teach and only children learn. 

 

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