Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

36599215214_dfaad3eda7_kMy Desk – tradigital tools

Digital Tools across the decades

What were the first digital tools you used?

How has your practice changed over the years because of the digital tools available to you?

What will be the next transformative tool we cannot imagine teaching without?

Here, created using Knight Lab Timeline is an interactive visual documenting a selection of the tools I have used professionally and personally. Scroll to the right to follow the timeline or click the arrow to navigate.

(Currently, the embed code isn’t working so please click the link below)

What is your most frequently used digital tool?

Which could you not do without?

If you want to make your own timeline the website is very easy to follow, and there are many tutorials online.

They also make very nice Story Maps, check out this one on Hieronymus Bosch

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Screen Shot 2017-06-18 at 8.32.56 PMThe Creative Revolution – full STEAM ahead

First there was the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century with the mechanisation of the textile industry. Then, the second industrial revolution of the early 20th century leading to increased mass production and in the 1980’s the Digital Revolution was well underway, changing industry again. So what’s next?

Are we about to have a new revolution or is it staring us in the face? Could this be the Age of Creativity?

According to Sir Ken Robinson, “Creativity is as important in education as literacy” so what are we doing about it? (TED, 2009)

Ken Robinson Creativity

We read about the importance of STEAM and the integration of the Arts being crucial for holistic education, so why, in the UK, are creative subjects being cut from GCSEs and A Levels, including History of Art. (Independent, October 13th 2016) In fact, A Level History of Art will see its last students examined in 2018. In response, historian Simon Schama says: “Axing art history deals another blow to the creative capital of this country. Art history is an exacting discipline: to engage with it needs history, philosophy, languages, literature, tools the next generation needs.”

In the US, Trump proposed cutting funding to Arts related agencies like the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) (Independent May 1st 2017)

In Australia, over 50 creative subjects have lost funding for student loans including jewellery, circus and art therapy (Student loans cut to creative courses, Richard Watts, ArtsHub, 10 October 2016).

So instead of supporting and promoting more time and resources to creativity it appears to be quite the opposite.

Why is creativity so important to our future?

For over 20 years I have been promoting the benefits of the Arts and how the skills involved in our subjects go beyond simply being able to paint, draw, sing or dance.  It genuinely upsets me that students, at aged 14, can all but give up any form of creativity as they enter GCSEs. Even Group 6 of the IB Diploma is optional, where students do not have to choose a creative subject and can opt for another science or language for example. In my short video, prepared as a proposal for an ADE showcase on creative thinking, I highlight the growing trend away from creativity further up the school and how this skill is such an important life skill. A skill needed for a world that is rapidly changing, for jobs which we do not yet know and the obvious need for innovative and creative thinkers.

Being creative is not about being artistic, dramatic or musically minded. It is about thinking differently. Creative thinking is a skill that must be encouraged and taught through opportunities in every subject.

Tara Prendergast, in her TEDx talk The Creative Revolution, reminds us that we are “living in a world that is moving so fast and where technology is blowing our minds”. Being creative is one of the top skills needed to prepare students for this future. According to P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning “A focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration is essential to prepare students for the future.”


In order to develop this essential skill Prendergast says we should “build community and a culture around creativity”. So what does this look like in your school? What exists already to encourage and cultivate a culture of creativity?

How can we encourage creativity?

In Primary school, play forms a crucial role in allowing students the time and space to freely experiment, invent, fail and succeed.

The Kindergarten approach allows learners to develop as creative thinkers for a world that is changing more rapidly than ever – the need to be creative is imperative in order to come up with innovative ideas for solutions we don’t not know about yet. “We need to develop innovative solutions to unexpected problems that will arise” (Mitchel Resnick, MIT). In the same way that Kindergarteners learn, we need to continue this approach throughout our lifetime: experimenting, inventing, failing and succeeding. There is a genuine need to tinker and play in order to develop creativity.

In my previous post about Play, I talked about the need for students and adults alike to be more playful, to problem solve and thus more creative. But what about higher up the school? How can all subjects integrate elements of creativity alongside their content?

In the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy, CREATE appears at the top, upgrading “synthesis” and leapfrogging “evaluating”, for we know that, in order to create we must thoroughly evaluate first. How do different curriculum areas incorporate this higher order thinking?


What do you do to promote creativity?

Taryn BondClegg, a 5th Grade teacher, recently posted about creativity on her blog, Risk and Reflect. If you are in Primary, I urge you to read this engaging post about her Creativity Thursdays. Actually, if you are NOT in Primary, I urge you to read her post! In brief, she dedicates one whole day a week for her students to pursue their creative passion or a creative project they want to learn more about. They select from “a menu of creative endeavours” each week and what Taryn noticed goes way beyond simple creativity:

Not only were students developing their Learner Profile attributes, PYP attitudes and ATL skills, but there was also rich, authentic engagement with literacy, math, humanities and science!

Whether you are interested in STEAM projects or just want to help develop curious and creative individuals, there is compelling evidence for teaching innovation and creativity.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Albert Einstein

Pete O Mara, in the Times Herald article on May 17th, 2017, states that “developing the creative mind has never been more important“. Why are schools and parents paying more attention to grades and assessments and such little emphasis on creativity and imagination?

“We place such a high value on intellect in our education and ignore imagination.”  (Pete O Mara)

Creativity in Education - exploring the imbalancePhoto Credit: Shakespeare1980 Flickr via Compfight cc

There are so many ideas for incorporating creativity, imagination and thinking, I found it hard whittling my research down to just one to start you off! The 3 Rules of Creativity by Stephen Guise on Pick the Brain, back in 2014, still rings true for me today and hopefully offers you some simple guidance:

3 Rules of Creativity

Rule #1 Limit your options and narrow your focus

Being specific about what your task or goal is will help focus your ideas. Too many options can be overwhelming so limit these so you can develop better ideas. Narrowing your focus can lead to greater creativity.

Rule #2 Believe you’re creative

Self belief plays a huge part in being more creative as it does in many walks of life. Believing you can improve is the first step.

Rule #3 Embrace bad ideas

By rejecting bad ideas you may be preventing a good idea forming. By accepting bad ideas are just ideas you might be able to combine them to produce a good idea.

Simple, right? You have no excuses – get out there and not only teach creatively but teach for creativity. (Quote courtesy of Sir Ken Robinson)

I’ll leave the last word to John Spencer on how creativity is tough. It is tough but worth it.


Global Collaboration - creative projects Visual note by Nicki Hambleton

Global Collaboration – creative projects Visual note by Nicki Hambleton


I promise to write less this week, not just out of respect to others but as a necessity to my sanity. It has been and is the week of all weeks: 270 MS reports are due in and I am slowly becoming snowed under.

So I will be brief……

Thinking ahead to my UBD planning on Sustainability, it was good to read about other projects that involve reaching out globally. As I followed the links to the multiple readings my mind started remembering projects I had followed or read about that focused on creativity and were clearly centred around the Arts.

Bones, bodies, faces and forests

4 years ago I stumbled on an online project called One Million Bones. As I was taking a Grade 8 unit teaching about sculptural materials and some of the students had returned from a history trip to Vietnam talking animatedly about the atrocities of genocide it seemed apt to get involved. The concept of the project was to encourage groups of people to make “bones” and send them to become part of an Installation to be set up in the National Mall Washington. On the website, Naomi Natale talks about how the project and the organisation The Art of Revolution are”dedicated to leveraging the power of art to inspire activism. We believe that art is such an incredible tool with which to engage and mobilise communities around a specific social justice issue. It offers a tangible way for people to connect to things that are not presented to them daily.

As my students learnt of conflicts around the world happening right then and worked hard with modroc to carve an authentic bone the sentiments of the project struck a chord:

“The installation will exist as a collaborative site of conscience to honor victims and survivors, and will also serve as a visual petition against ongoing conflicts and a resounding call for much need and long overdue action.”

It was humbling to have been a tiny part of such a powerful piece of collaborative art.

On a lighter note, collaborative projects have been a part of artists work for some time, from Ai WeiWei’s powerful installations built from information and research gathered collaboratively to Spencer Tunick‘s body sculptures. Tunick crowd sources willing participants to offer their bodies to become part of one of his pieces in particular places around the world. He counts on the public to respond, and they always do. One such colleague of mine had suffered with breast cancer many years previously and decided this would be her moment to embrace the situation, her mastectomy,  and become part of history. She said it was liberating and she was proud to have been part of the Selfridges artwork.

On a very different note, the Inside Out project asks the public to share their portrait where the photography project is to take place – London, Georgia, Paris, Karachi, New York and many more. 8572 locations to be exact.

JR, speaking at TED, remains largely anonymous yet he wants his large pastings themselves to speak out so that the viewer can contemplate the story behind them and to raise questions.


It was through searching these projects that I stumbled on a new one, Make a Forest, a collaborative art project aimed at groups worldwide to share an artificial tree and together to build a forest that raises awareness of diversity of our world trees yet also of their fragility on today’s society.

My Grade 6s earlier this year were looking at trees in our school grounds that reflected the 40 years of their existence, the stories they tell and the lives that have passed them by. 40 trees for 40 years is a project spearheaded by Frankie Meehan and Nathan Hunt, both keen on sustainability and who have inspired my direction with art. Reading about the individual projects on the Make a Forest website led me to think how I could involve my young artists in this humble online project.

Will you take part too? Share the diversity of the trees in your country? Let me know if you want to take part and we can share them online through twitter to gather some momentum and interest. Felix Finkbeiner, who founded Plant for the Planet in 2007 when he was just 9 years old, visited our school says:

“If everybody plants 150 trees in the next ten years we will reach 1,000 billion trees by 2020. By working together we can definitely achieve this. It isn’t that hard and it is not impossible anymore.”

It is with this sentiment that I work on my Sustainability unit with Grade 7, with this power of harnessing interest around the world in our common cause to live in a better one that fires my energy to impart important causes to our students, the future citizens of our fast diminishing world. I may be one person but together we can make a difference, if we all try.

Food for Thought - Sustainability visual note by Nicki Hambleton

Food for Thought – Sustainability visual note by Nicki Hambleton

Arty remix

In the mean time, I have a simple art idea to test out this remix society and the importance of creativity. Do you recall artists trading cards? Little baseball sized cards given or sent to be swapped.

I thought in today’s digital world we could create art, on iPad or iPhone and digitally send these to interested artists (or students). There they would remix, add to or change the artwork and send on again. How fun would it be to see your artwork travel the world, change and alter and then be exhibited online?

Do you want to help me start this? If you know an art teacher, artist or someone creative or just keen to be involved tell them.

Tweet me at @itsallaboutart with hashtag #artremix and let the creativity begin.

**update: I don’t think I wrote much less in the end, but I wrote it quicker!