Creativity is Based on Knowledge

@TeacherToolkitIn 2010, Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit from a simple Twitter account through which he rapidly became the ‘most followed teacher on social media in the UK’. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the ‘500 Most Influential People in Britain’ by The Sunday… Read more about @TeacherToolkitCan creativity be cultivated in our current school system?I’ve been watching more and more TED talks lately, and what I hope to do is share one or two of them each month on my blog. This time, I’m sharing “Why real creativity is based on knowledge” by Tim Leunig from TEDxWhitehall.Leunig goes on to give two examples and provides a very balanced case of the importance of Arts and of Science…There is much to agree with Leunig here. I for one believe creativity is built upon a strict discipline of knowledge and skills, but I think the key point has been missed in Leunig’s reference to Sir Ken Robinson.The first issue is how do we define creativity. The second, how does a national curriculum promote ‘real creativity’ if some schools can deviate away from certain subjects as an academy or free school, yet be measured by another narrow range of subjects?Real creativity does require knowledge. I am pleased to hear Leunig promote this. The issue I understand from Robinson’s talk, is that our schools are becoming examination factories and forms of creativity are being stifled. Whether creativity in Robinson’s view is gathering knowledge to pass tests or to be taught in a particular style, I have no idea.The creative process is much more fluid and intertwined than just a linear process. However, with any subject discipline, a knowledge-base is required. As teachers, we cannot assume that there is no structure or form to being ‘creative’, and that creativity depends on talent and inspiration alone. It doesn’t. (Creative Teaching and Applied Imagination.)Freedom or Discipline?In Professor Richard Kimbell and Professor Kay Stables’ book, Researching Design Learning, which covers two decades on Research and Development, a linear process of designing and making is offered. “… the teacher has to reconcile two conflicting demands: giving the maximum freedom to the pupils to develop their own ideas and to pursue any approach which seems to them to offer a reasonable outcome.[Creativity] seldom proceeds by way of a series of clearly recognisable stages to a neat solution. There is always the possibility of refinement, of coming at a solution by a better route, or revising the original intention in favour of a simpler or more effective technique …”Of course, knowledge is required, but how can creativity be encouraged in our schools that are likened to examination factories? Teachers will often cite that they are teaching to the test rather than teaching for the love of their subject.In a Singapore study by Tan Oon Seng (2000), Seng makes reference to the Problem-based Creativity Learning (PBCL) programme and the emphasis on cognitive and meta-cognitive learning as the “content” and discusses the psychological development of creativity.Seng concludes that problem-based creativity “can develop students to be flexible and creative thinkers.” On the one hand, it points to the modifiability of students’ abilities in these areas; but on the other, it points to a possible intervention to bring about this development!This therefore concludes, that creativity has its foundations built upon a knowledge base, but with anything delivered in the classroom, it requires the skills of a good teacher to ensure outcomes are met.Nevertheless, I have some further questions to raise about ‘real creativity’.Questions:Could we assume, that to be creative requires knowledge via cognitive and meta-cognitive learning? If knowledge is required to be creative in a subject, how do we determine what that is for our students?Can problem-based creativity be taught in all subjects?With reduced entries in examinations in the Arts subjects, how does this support Leunig’s or Robinson’s views?There are fewer language teachers entering the profession. How will the EBacc 90% measure influence GCSE options?Do we really want our students shoehorned into a particular group of subjects in order to meet government aspirations?Do we still believe Arts or Science is more important than the other?Do we still believe knowledge is more important than skills?Can students be creative in the current national curriculum and test culture?and what is creativity anyway?Surely, we want all of our students to be creative; to use prior knowledge and skills to be able to solve problems. Isn’t that what real creativity is, regardless of what subject is being taught?Related

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