Posts Tagged ‘Sir Ken Robinson’

 

Sketchnote reflections on MA Education. Technology Creativity and Thinking: Creativity and Educational Futures.

Creativity has always driven my practice as a teacher of visual art. It is at the heart of what I teach and is a fundamental skill relevant to all subjects of the curriculum. In this commentary, I will reflect back on aspects of the Creativity and Education Futures modules that have ignited interest and possibilities to improve my own and other educators’ practices. I work in a large K-12 International School in Singapore in an art department of 8 teachers. I am also a Digital Literacy Coach which allows me to work with a wide range of teachers across the school engaging in conversations and collaborations to improve student learning. As a 1:1 laptop school technology dominates the classroom for organisation, sharing resources, research, collaboration and creating content.

Throughout the module, I frequently returned to the work of Anna Craft and Sonail Inayatullah, in particular with regard to future theories, Possibility Thinking and the 4Ps to explore directions for the future of art education and what this might mean for our students. Participating in conversations about probable, possible, preferable futures has kickstarted my thinking about the development of the subject and what changes need to be put in place to drive us forward. In my previous presentation and essay, my investigations centred on the inclusion of play and experimentation and how art might evolve with emerging technologies and pedagogy surrounding new literacies.

In considering the future of art, our school mission states,

“The UWC movement makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future”

but what does this actually look like in our day to day work with youngsters and what exactly might a sustainable future be?

Whilst applying for a leadership position within the department I wanted to delve deeper into investigating sustainable education and this has helped to determine what the department needs to change to address future concerns. What skills will be relevant for an unknown future? What will an art curriculum look like? Building a curriculum that is both relevant, long-lasting and flexible is quite a challenge.

Investigating various schools in my region, the teaching of art varies enormously. In local schools, the skills focused on are often traditional: skills of drawing and painting, history of art. Art is not seen as a core subject and the focus is on STEM subjects with Mathematics being a priority. Singapore is a multicultural society and even within my own school, parents are most keen to see their children progress highly in Maths and Science with high scores and examination results, leaving them at the top of world league tables. Much like schools in the UK, the Arts feature as electives beyond 14. However, in the IB curriculum, holistic education is a key principle and students are encouraged to balance their subjects. Even so, many students do not take a creative subject. There is often an assumption held by many that creativity is only appropriate in the arts and that creativity or creative thinking is not relevant to the rest of the curriculum. However creativity is now one of the top 3 skills needed to prepare students for the future, and it champions the need for such a skill or competency to be embedded across the curriculum (WEF, 2016). Creativity is not just for the arts, it is a fundamental life skill and our future will depend on creative thinkers and innovators to solve big issues like climate change, world peace, or poverty.

Top 10 skills 2020

The Future of Jobs (WEF, 2016)

At the beginning of this course, I reflected that creativity is all about thinking, experimenting, failing and often involved taking risks. All these capabilities reside not solely in the Arts but across the curricula.

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Mindmap – What is Creativity by Nicki Hambleton

Whilst teaching students how to take notes more visually, they discussed their own views on creativity through sketchnotes and common ideas were seen again: ideas, messy, collaborative, making something new, innovation.

student what is creativityStudent example, HKIS. What is Creativity? (2018)

When educators were asked the same question through a Menti poll, further definitions could be seen including curiosity, open-mindedness, exploration, all of which are applicable schoolwide.

menti teachersResults from a Menti poll, 2018

Presenting recently at Innovation in Schools, I shared the need to teach for creativity rather than teaching creatively. The latter suggests being inventive about how we teach but neglects how to foster and develop creativity and creative thinking. Patrick Green, at the same conference, talked about student choice being at the centre of creativity, using the example of his 7-year-old son whose creativity was stifled by teachers micro-managing a project and restricting choices. Whilst this example focuses on Primary education the same can often be the case in High School, where learning is predominantly content driven. Where is the time for creativity? My husband teaches IB Physics and sees students consumed by the demands of such a content heavy curriculum, but he also understands how students learn best. We discussed at length how, in order to investigate science, one needs to experiment, play with ideas, concepts and materials. Most scientific breakthroughs may not have occurred if it hadn’t been for playfulness, risk-taking and possibility thinking. With this, he concluded that Science is creative and the need to push this skill imperative to help develop rounded and innovative scientists in the future. Indeed Oded Ben-Horin et al describe creativity in Science as “generating ideas and strategies as an individual or community” citing again Craft’s everyday creativity, where teachers lead purposeful activities to promote engagement and thinking (Ben-Horin et al, 2017).

Sir Ken Robinson berates schools for “killing creativity” and for “educating (students) out of their creative capabilities” (Robinson, 2006). More often learning is about remembering and recalling facts, figures, and information. Universities require this acquisition of knowledge and judge students on their success by their final numerical grades. How does this show what a student is truly capable of and how they might be successful in a particular field of study? Perhaps institutions should be looking at holistic skills including creativity, problem-solving and thinking as the new competencies for the future workforce. “Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status” (Robinson, 2006).

In Rhetorics of Creativity, Banaji, Burn and Buckingham describe creativity as “inherent in the everyday cultural and symbolic practices of all human beings” (Banaji et al, p. 57). This ordinary creativity mirrors Anna Craft’s view where she explores little “c” creativity, the thinking and ideas which occur in the mundane activities of daily life or the small moments of imagination. This, of course, differs greatly from high creativity, Big C creativity or Pro (Craft, 2001) the work of professionals or experts. Creativity does not have to be the complex and time-consuming add-on that many believe to be the case. Allowing students the time to think for themselves, to explore and experiment with thinking and ideas will allow this everyday creativity to flourish across the curriculum. My everyday creativity is sketchnoting, as can be seen in the reflective portfolio, and I teach this skill to students and staff to help them synchronise their thinking and to share and organise important information for better recall. Initially, I take notes in a notebook and revisit these to elicit the big ideas, capturing this as a large image. I extract key points to delve deeper, including text and images to capture and recognise these points.

How to take visual notes on one handSketchnote by Nicki Hambleton

It is time intensive, but an enjoyable and valuable process and one I wholly believe in and promote.

HK footprintsHumanities student example of sketchnoting. HKIS, 2018

AP Psychology students visual thinking with post-it notes. HKIS, 2018

Reflecting on the findings in Chappell and Craft’s “Creative Learning Conversations”, I see evidence in my classroom of the positive implications of meaningful conversations and discussion (Chappell and Craft, 2011). Mapping these conversations in ways that can be revisited and reflected upon is an important element of their work. Sketchnotes allow individuals to review their thinking and to share with others. I use the Harkness table for discussions with an online backchannel Today’s Meet. In a fishbowl style scenario, students discuss as I “map” the conversation on paper. I observed a Primary teacher using an app called Equity maps, to see data and trends on individual participation, sharing this with her students, thus involving students in the process.

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Grade 3 students Demonstrating Equity Maps at Nexus, Singapore

I use Padlet to track student progress and this space allows them to reflect, feedback and share their learning with others. Padlet is a very versatile platform and teachers use it for sharing book reports, as a discussion tool, podcasts, resources and for portfolios. As a public space, it is always important to consider the audience and the ethics of what to share and to whom, so there are inbuilt tools to adjust this depending on requirements. Craft describes participation in terms of “joining in and being heard” as one of the important aspects of playing in a “dialogical space” (Craft, 2011, p94) and in a digital space many voices can be both seen and heard. We use an online learning platform and this interactive, participatory space allows for multiple interactions between students and teachers or peer to peer. I can pose questions, allow students to investigate and share their thinking as a conversation, locking comments if I want them to think for themselves. In a safe environment, this allows students to learn the nuances of respect, questioning and conversation in preparation for real online public spaces. Technology has allowed us to redefine social engagement and to engage students in conversations both in and out of the classroom. Collaboration and connectedness are a fundamental part of students daily lives and Chappell talks about wise humanising creativity as a way of empowering individuals to work collaboratively towards change (Chappell et al, 2012). With this in mind, student voice has become an important part of my research into how art education might look in the future. In “Creative Schools”, Ken Robinson focuses on student voice and of the need for more personalization and flexibility of teaching. Often students have to fit with the system and schedule not the other way around.

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Class Padlet for Student unit tracking, ongoing reflections and feedback

I am constantly drawn back to Craft’s thoughts on this evolving world students are living in,  described as the 4Ps and of the connections between them. In my previous post, I focused on the importance of play in learning but I would like to explore further the aspect of “possibility-awareness” to nurture creativity and address future thinking (Craft, 2011, p33). In a rapidly evolving digital world, learning and teaching have to change and Craft’s 4P’s are a way to investigate opportunities to become more aware of the changes needed.

Recently my school has developed a 5-year strategic plan with the vision and pointers to address aspects of our mission and values. This maps where we want to get to but not the details of how to get there. This is where possibility thinking comes in, and as I look to the future of how to lead the art department, this approach will allow me to involve all stakeholders in the conversation and of aspects that require change. One of the powerful aspects of Possibility Thinking involves question-posing and this, in turn, leads to innovation and creative thinking. Questioning in the art classroom involves asking students to interpret what they see, think and wonder, a common thinking routine I use. It can spark debate and discussion or trigger ideas and develop imagination but also open up new directions for learning. Through enquiry, at any level of the school, students are able to research, make decisions, weigh up options, create new thoughts and debate ideas (Craft et al, 2014). Possibility thinking, coupled with future thinking, specifically alternative futures (Inayatullah, 2008) is helping me to build a vision for the art department. With the rise of Maker Spaces and recommendations from the Horizon report (2017) for adoption, more schools are developing dedicated spaces for creation and invention. Students in my school have access to the Ideas Hub where they can make, tinker and play with a multitude of materials and processes to invent and collaborate. There are competitions and community events and creativity is truly valued here, outside of the curriculum.

ideas hub.pngUWCSEA, Ideas Hub, Singapore

How can we model creative thinking and teach the skills relevant to our subject? Where is the time for creativity? In my initial presentation on learning and play, I focused on Inayatullah’s alternative futures and the importance of having a vision for the future rather than a determined roadmap, where previous notions of looking to the past or used futures restricted thinking or gave predictable results. With this in mind, applying for the Head of HS Art position at my school, I set out to talk to students (and staff) about what a possible and preferable future for art education might look like. Students have a solid foundation of skills resulting in excellent grades, taught by a team that has worked together for many years. The curriculum has changed over time in content and with the integration of the online learning platform and digitising of the IB coursework. As with many departments, students yearn for the answers without the thinking. How can it be even better for its students and bring back the joy of making art? Do students think enough about their ideas and reflect on the process of working and the work of others to help develop meaningful ideas and decisions? Thinking takes time and energy and is hard. But to be successful in the future, students need to develop these skills to be able to digest and make sense of information and envision where and how to use this to innovate and solve problems. Talking to students about what they see as the future in art education surprises me as they are seduced by the developments in technology yet impassioned by the hands-on nature of art materials. How can we marry these two seemingly polarised approaches to art? In order for art education to be sustainable we need to build capacity in our students to be able to think for themselves, not just to solve problems but the find problems that need solving. We need to give opportunities to build critical skills and creativity by giving them space and the time to play and experiment and in turn create their own paths of discovery.

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Excerpts from Menti: What might art education look like in the future? (2018)

Guy Claxton talks about building “resilience, resourcefulness, reflection and reciprocity” (Claxton, 2012) to develop critical thinking skills. These “learning powers”, the 4Rs, exercise the brain to improve learning, just as building muscle develops strength in our bodies.

Claxton’s work brings me back to the question:

What is education for and how can we build an education that is sustainable?

As this debate continues, collating conversations about future thinking must include students’ ideas. Our mission includes the phrase “for a sustainable future” and it is this that I constantly revisit when grappling with a vision for the future. What is a sustainable future? Educating for sustainability suggests teaching to develop responsible citizens for an unknown future, aware of the effects and consequences of their actions, on others and the environment in which they live. Stephen Sterling describes 4 descriptors of sustainable education: sustaining, tenable, healthy and durable (Sterling, nd). He explains that we are all important factors in this conversation and that “learning about learning” is a key part to assist us in developing a relevant education for the future. Could this guide our vision?

Students have idealistic or imaginative ideas about the future based it on current realities. Most talk about digital alternatives and emerging media, AR, virtual worlds, gaming and Ai. But others thought more about creating a balance between traditional and digital. Living a totally digital existence much like the characters in Ready Player 1, a book set in the future seems very likely but relationships, connecting on a face to face basis and collaborating is still important to youngsters. Considering alternative futures, we may need to disown certain futures (Inayatullah, 2008) discarding negative or unwanted possibilities. For learning to be sustainable, including real-world contexts must be prevalent so youngsters can make sense of and see the relevance of their learning. We do this through enquiry and concept-based learning at UWC and value student ideas.

Why and how do we foster agency in our learners? How can we help them become independent, engaged and confident learners through voice and choice.

As I reflect on this module, I know that it has deeply affected the way I think about what I teach, how I teach and how learning might change in the future, particularly in the context of Visual Art. I look to schools who are pushing the boundaries with innovative approaches and in particular what art’s position is within these frameworks. Drawing ideas from the readings, student agency and voice will dominate my practice as I endeavour to share these ideas with others: stepping back, giving time and space and valuing student ideas. In March, 2018, Apple launched “Everyone can Create” with curriculum suggestions developed by educators focusing on using the skills in video, music, photography and drawing to develop and communicate ideas in all subjects. Creativity is not just for the arts and I conclude, as did Anna Craft, that it is a skill necessary for all aspects of life especially in the unknown world that we are facing, yet something we do every day. At the centre of developing innovative and creative thinkers for the sustainability of our world, we must remember the words of Picasso, who said, that

“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”

We must exercise our creativity and go back to playing and experimenting, as we did when we were young, to be able to survive and thrive in the future.

 

References

About Adaptive Schools® Seminars. (2016, November 23). http://www.thinkingcollaborative.com/seminars/adaptive-schools-seminars/

Banaji, S., Burn, A., & Buckingham, D. (2009). The rhetorics of creativity: A review of the literature. The Rhetorics of Creativity: A Review of the Literature.

Centre for the Study of Children, Youth and Media, Institute of Education, University of London.

Belshaw, D. (2011, February 1). Purpos/ed: What’s the purpose of education? Join the debate. http://web.archive.org/web/20130821155343/http://purposed.org.uk/

Ben-Horin, O., Chappell, K. A., Halstead, J., & Espeland, M. (2017). Designing creative inter-disciplinary science and art interventions in schools: The case of Write a Science Opera (WASO). Cogent Education,4(1).

Chappell, K., & Craft, A. (2011). Creative learning conversations: Producing living dialogic spaces. Educational Research,53(3), 363-385.

Chappell, K., Hetherington, L., Ruck Keene, H., Slade, C., & Cukorova, M. (n.d.). Creations: Developing an engaging science classroom.

Chappell, K. A., Pender, T., Swinford, E., & Ford, K. (2016). Making and being made: Wise humanising creativity in interdisciplinary early years arts education. International Journal of Early Years Education,24(3), 254-278.

Claxton, G. (2012). Building learning power: Helping young people become better learners. Moorabbin, Vic.: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Craft, A. (2009). Creativity in schools: Tensions and dilemmas. London: Routledge.

Craft, A. (2011). Creativity and education futures: Learning in a digital age. Stoke on Trent: Trentham.

Craft, A. R., & Chappell, K. A. (2014). Possibility thinking and social change in primary schools. Education 3-13,44(4), 407-425.

Craft, A., Chappell, K., Cremin, T., & Jeffrey, B. (2015). Creativity, education and society: Writings of Anna Craft. London: Institute of Education Press.

Dwight School New York – Spark of Innovation. (n.d.). https://www.dwight.edu/community/foundation/spark-tank

Facer, K., Craft, A., Jewitt, C., Mauger, S., Sandford, R., & Sharples, M. (2009). Building Agency in the face of uncertainty.

Facer, K. (2011). Learning futures: Education, technology and social change. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

Gray, A. (n.d.). The 10 skills you need to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-10-skills-you-need-to-thrive-in-the-fourth-industrial-revolution/

Inayatullah, S. (2008). Six pillars: Futures thinking for transforming. Foresight,10(1), 4-21.

Inayatullah, S (2008). Mapping Educational Futures. Six Foundational Concepts and the Six Pillars Approach. In Bussey, M., Inayatullah, S. & Milojevic, I. (eds). Alternative Educational Futures: Pedagogies for Emergent Worlds.

  1. (2017, April 17). IDEAS Hub @ UWCSEA Dover – Vedant’s story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmxJVVaX_r4

NMC and CoSN Release the Horizon Report 2017 K-12 Edition. (2017, September 18). https://www.nmc.org/nmc-horizon-news/nmc-and-cosn-release-the-horizon-report-2017-k-12-edition/

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools: Revolutionizing education from the ground up. London: Penguin Books.

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Do schools kill creativity? https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

Sahlberg, P. (2015). Finnish Lessons 2.0: What Can the World Learn from: Educational Change in Finland?:2nd. New York: TEACHERS COLLEGE Press.

  1. (2012, January 30). Sohail Inayatullah, Introduction to Futures thinking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5MJ_APlLc4

Sterling, S., & Orr, D. W. (2001). Sustainable education: Revisioning learning and change. Cambridge: Green Books.

Sterling, S. (2010). Learning for resilience, or the resilient learner? Towards a necessary reconciliation in a paradigm of sustainable education. Environmental Education Research,16(5-6), 511-528.

Sterling, S. (n.d.). Sustainable education –putting relationship back into education. Cultivate Mag 9.

Walsh, C., Chappell, K., & Craft, A. (2017). A co-creativity theoretical framework to foster and evaluate the presence of wise humanising creativity in virtual learning environments (VLEs). Thinking Skills and Creativity,24, 228-241.

 

 

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“What role will creativity and play have in the future of arts education?”

 

As an art teacher and digital literacy coach, it is important to me to consider how art education might evolve in the future and what role technology might play. As I investigated the role of creativity, it became clear that the misconception of creativity as solely for the Arts is a common one. Rachel McGarrigal, suggested that this was true for her and that she “had been guilty of thinking that creativity was a synonym for the Arts”. She cited Anna Craft, saying “In the economic environment, the terms ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘enterprise’ are used, whereas in sociology the term used is ‘innovation’. Yet in education and psychology, the term ‘creativity’ is widely used” (Craft, 2001). It is clear that this may be where the assumption arises that creativity and the arts are mutually exclusive.

Banaji and Burn’s article, “Rhetorics of Creativity” formed a springboard to many aspects of creativity theories and it was at this point that I had to decide which were most poignant to the future of art education in particular. Craft’s writings on possibility thinking and playfulness guided me in choosing avenues to explore in relation to the future of education. Whilst reading Banaji and Burn’s article, play seemed a common link throughout. In a conversation with Judith Kleine Staarman, it became clear how creativity and play are a fundamental aspect of learning and how influential Finland’s educational philosophies are becoming to the rest of the world. Recent articles in the media talk about the importance of “soft skills” (Ma, 2018) and this is reiterated by Krista Kiuru, Finland’s minister of education and science, regarding the importance of developing emotional intelligence, vocational courses and values beyond academics (Gross-Loh, 2014).

My presentation centred around the connection between possibility thinking and alternative futures for art in a digital context, citing recent reports on the necessity of creativity as a core skill and the works of both Craft and Inayatullah. I talked about how play and creativity are interconnected, and I will explore possible digital futures further. It is clear that despite an uncertain future, digital and media literacy is a necessary fluency. You only have to look at the rapidly advancing developments in the past 5-10 years to realise that it is even more important to prepare our students for this uncertainty by giving them the skills to creatively work through this change.

I wanted to explore what creativity meant to me and my school context, to examine how art education is changing and what it might look like in the future, looking at the possible discord or cohesion of traditional art education and the emergence of new technology.

I see many practices of creativity inherent in the arts, yet other subjects focus on knowledge and content, driven by exam requirements. So where is the time for creativity? But shouldn’t we be asking where can creativity be built in to the already existing curriculum, rather than as an add on?

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Figure 1: Mindmap – What is Creativity by Nicki Hambleton

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Figure 2: Menti poll What is creativity?

Looking at Figures 1 & 2, one can see creativity is not tied only to the Arts: problem-solving, divergent thinking, play and curiosity exist in all of us. Craft discusses that, since the shift to STEM, there is even more need to bring back creativity across the curriculum. Invention and innovation are at the heart of STEM and the Horizon report now supports STEAM to incorporate key aspects of the Arts to drive creativity (Horizon report, 2017). Craft and Jeffery make clear distinctions between “teaching creatively and teaching for creativity”, the latter impacting the development of this key skill rather than lessons becoming more entertaining (Jeffery & Craft, 2010).

John Dewey said that everyone is capable of being an artist. Often individuals regard artistry and creativity as a gift, or that you had to be born with it, but as Craft explains this assumption should apply to historical geniuses like da Vinci, Einstein and Mozart (known as Big C creativity). Conversely, little “c” creativity, relates to personal creativity and can be distinct from the Arts: a new idea or creation such as a poem or recipe. Ken Robinson reiterates this, discussing the imagination and “genius” of primary children (Robinson, 2006) and Craft reinforces the notion that everyday creativity is needed to cope with the rapidly changing society we live in. Conversely, Banaji and Burn explain that creativity often arises from “routine” just as your best ideas might arise during a shower or when dropping off to sleep. They reinforce the idea of ubiquitous creativity and that individuals who are not naturally creative may develop creative abilities and awareness through their engagement with arts projects and collaborations (Banaji & Burn, 2010).

Linking to the idea of working together in creative spaces, the rise of Makerspaces has ensured that more schools help students to engage in play and making for enjoyment or to pursue a passion independently. This spike in interest has resulted in new learning spaces like our “Ideas Hub” (Figure 3) bringing together art, design, technology, engineering and science for all ages and with innovation and play at the heart.

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Figure 3: Idea Hacks, UWCSEA 2017

Virtual spaces, social media and games often incorporate play based elements. Understanding popular culture and the way youngsters communicate, interact and play today is relevant to affect change in our teaching content and style. Inayatullah’s future theories discuss moving away from a used future, where nothing really changes, towards alternative futures. To plan for an uncertain future, we need to help students to learn how to learn and become more independent and self-managed about the relevant skills to equip them for change and a diverse world. It is in this way of thinking that consideration can be given to “impossible futures”. Inayatullah et al talk about having a vision of the future rather than a set out road map. We need to consider unique possibilities “that change the direction of reality” (Bussey, Inayatullah, Milojevic, 2008). Some aspects of the future can be mapped based on current trends and developments in globalisation and technology advancements such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, but it is about being open to a range of alternative futures and possibilities rather than a single one future ahead of us.  At the heart of these alternative futures lies creativity. Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status (Robinson, 2006). At the heart of creativity are play and experimentation.

In my presentation, I used Craft’s theory on probable, possible and preferable futures and possibility thinking to think about how the future of art might look. Probable futures for art may entail addressing digital futures, moving from traditional materials based lessons to a laptop or tablet. A possible future of art could see both formal and emerging art forms taught to complement each other and a preferable future might be a seamless integration of technology alongside traditional skills with personal choice at the centre of learning. This view of art may not be every art educators ideal, yet we must move the curriculum forward to ensure art is not pushed out as a subject and that it remains relevant in a future digital world. Whatever the future of art education, play must still form a central part.

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Figure 4: The Future of Jobs (WEF, 2016)

Howard Gardner said that “an intelligence entails the ability to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (Gardner, n.d) and that intelligences involve various amounts of human endeavour. Everyone, he says, possesses these intelligences or “abilities, talents or mental skills” in varying degrees. He describes examples of these intelligences as writing a story or playing chess and the same could be applied to the arts and creativity. This is particularly true in regard to problem-solving “from scientific theories to musical compositions to successful political campaigns” (Gardner, 1993). As reported in the Future of Jobs, complex problem solving remains the top skill required now and in the future (Figure 4) and goes hand in hand with creativity when regarding issues of overpopulation, conflict and climate change. Csikszentmihalyi states categorically that “there is no question that the human species could not survive if creativity were to run dry”. He equates the future to survival and that developing new solutions will be dependent on creativity. Ironically these modern and future problems were brought about by our own ingenuity and “yesterday’s creative solutions” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).

As we lead increasingly technology-driven lives, we need to become more self-directed. Craft describes this personal agency as “little-c creativity”. In Figure 5 below, we see the increasing impact the 4 forms of creativity have on others and specifically where this relates, with little-c, to aspects of our daily lives. Craft explains how important little-c is in coping with change and dealing with small levels of creative problem solving (Craft, 2005).

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Figure 5: Four-C model of creativity, Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009

Craft describes possibility thinking as “the engine that drives little-c creativity” and Burnard’s diagram (Figure 6) describes key features of PT to include innovation, imagination and play. It is interesting to note the mirroring language with the poll on “What is Creativity” in Figure 2.

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Figure 6: Possibility Thinking (Burnard, 2006)

Reading Craft’s thoughts on play and playfulness to engage and foster creativity draws me back to my classroom practice and the nature of experimentation in art. Risk taking is inherent in teenagers whether through gaming or sports, yet this free-play or abandonment of childhood often dissipates the older they get. With this in mind, I would like to focus on aspects of ubiquitous creativity and the connection between play and creativity.

Craft discusses at length how Possibility Thinking is used as a lens for understanding creativity, specifically in the early years’ context. She describes “What is” to “what might be” and through this shift “PT might include questioning, imagination and play” (Craft, Chappell, Cremin and Jeffrey, 2015). This process of inquiry and inquisitiveness, natural in young learners must also be continued as they progress through school and into adult life. Creativity has been noted as a fundamental skill for the future of education alongside critical thinking and problem-solving. These 3 interconnected skills are the foundation of art and design education and the inclusion of these are relevant throughout the curriculum.

Margaret Boden states that exploration is the start of creativity: by exploring an idea, many possibilities spring up and this in itself is creative. Because of this, one can surmise that creativity has a lot in common with play, often “open-ended with no particular goal or aim” (Boden, 2004). Exploring within one’s mind, she describes as “mental maps”. This conscious and subconscious thinking is not related solely to one curriculum area and mind maps are commonplace across learning contexts. As with scientific and computational thinking or decision making, a journey must occur to solve a problem or explore solutions. When facing unknown futures and possibilities, being conscious of how a future can be mapped out can help embrace change.

With technology changing rapidly, education institutions need to be able to explore many ways it can enhance learning. Generation Z are more adept at trying out new things. Just as they might explore a new game or app, they learn by trying, failing, trying again. Boden describes creativity as “playing around”, just as a child plays with a string of beads or a pile of lego to make something new. Play in the young is a natural process to learn about the world and its possibilities. But as we get older, even by early teens, this ability to play freely is diminishing. However, according to Boden, playing is a way of “comparing one way of thinking with another, mapping one onto the other” just as one does with Maths or Science (Boden, 2004). Craft reinforces the idea of play and creativity, relating possibility thinking and the use of technology to amalgamate the actual and online spaces our students learn in.

At the centre of research into the benefits of play is the Playful Learning Center, Helsinki. In Finland, play forms a large part of the students’ day. Kristiina Kumpulainen, talks about playful learning as “an attitude to life” and explains how important the nature of creativity is when one makes something not imagined before. The most effective way to engage others in this experience is to listen and join in, just as one would as a parent with your child and this philosophy can be applied in the classroom with the adult learning alongside a child- to play together to learn together (Kumpulainen, 2016).

Listening to the ideas of Kumpulainen and the nature of learning and play helped me to see a possible future for collaborative learning in art. Watching my Middle School students play with new sculptural materials and ideas, learning together, reminded me of how their social worlds are built on communication and connections.

Elliot Eisner believed that studying the Arts helped develop the holistic child and that part of this theory included critical understanding and thinking skills, amongst others. He talks about the relevance of artistic endeavour to all aspects of the curriculum. Often schools focus on achievement and academic success rather than building on inquiry. Herbert Read describes the process of “being artistic’ not as a practice only by artists but that the creation of work from ideas, imagination and thinking is relevant to any discipline. Therefore this approach should be clear across education and relevant to professions as wide afield as mathematicians, engineers or surgeons. Similarly, Craft says, in order to foster creativity, classrooms should allow for “mistakes and encourage experimentation, openness and risk-taking” (Craft, Chappell et al, 2015) and these are skills for life.

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Figure 7: “Shear” by Bugdanoglu, 2016)

Returning to the future of art education draws me back to the amalgamation of the traditional and digital worlds. In my video, the interactive work of Bugdanoglu exemplifies the new directions artists are exploring by playing with and combining media for the audience to literally play with. At Art Stage, art can be seen to explore and represent new possibilities of the future, capturing previously unthought of ideas and visions. It also brings together the actual and the virtual using technology to change our perception of the world. The future of art education must embrace technological advancements yet be true to its roots. In the presentation, I wanted to demonstrate how immersive art can be as an experience, the connection and symbiosis between artist and audience.

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Figure 8: Photos taken by Nicki Hambleton at The Art Science Museum, Singapore 2016

Modern exhibitions demonstrate possible futures of art with audiences interacting with the creations. Singapore Art Science Museum brings together STEAM and a truly immersive experience (Figure 8). By interacting, you become part of the art. Similarly, a recent exhibition, Mirages et Miracles, shows the potential of AR to connect the artist and audience through a unique experience. It is exciting and challenging to imagine teaching and learning in this way. Innovation and risk-taking are embedded in possibility thinking and it is through questioning and exploring alternative futures that a relevant curriculum can be imagined. Of course, along with great innovation comes challenges. As Laura Cotterill pointed out in her feedback, “how can we keep up with such transitions in terms of educator’s knowledge and experiences with alternative forms of digital engagement tools?” This indeed is an issue for many schools, how do they chose which avenue to explore, which media to invest time, money and resources in and when and how do educators become proficient in these new skills?

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Figure 9: Mirages et Miracles https://www.am-cb.net/projets

Robinson recognised that schools need to ensure subjects are useful for work. As the skills required for existing jobs change, schools need to place more value on creativity: creativity to develop a changing workforce that will be needed in the future to develop innovative solutions far more relevant than academic success. Creativity is no longer only for the young or artistic. Mitch Resnick reinforces Robinson’s reflection on the importance of this fundamental skill for the future workforce, suggesting that adults and children alike should focus more on “imagining, creating, playing, sharing, and reflecting, just as children do in traditional kindergartens” (Resnick, 2017). Robinson urges us to use our “gift of human imagination” and to build on this capacity in our students “to educate their whole being so they can face this future” (Robinson, 2006).

References

Art Stage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.artstage.com/singapore/pages/9/event

Banaji, S. (n.d.). Mapping the rhetorics of creativity. The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning. doi:10.4324/9780203817568.ch4

Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2007, 05). Toward a broader conception of creativity: A case for “mini-c” creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 1(2), 73-79. doi:10.1037/1931-3896.1.2.73

Berkay Bugdan | Art & Design. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://berkaybugdan.com/

Boden, M. A. (2005). The creative mind: Myths and mechanisms. Routledge.

Bussey, M., Inayatullah, S., Milojevic, I. (2008). Alternative Educational Futures: Pedagogies for Emergent Worlds

Chappell, K., Walsh, C., Wren, H., Kenny, K., Schmoelz, A., & Stouraitis, E. (2017, 10). Wise Humanising Creativity. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 7(4), 50-72. doi:10.4018/ijgbl.2017100103

Craft, A (2001). Analysis of Creativity Literature

Craft, A. (2011). Creativity and education futures: Learning in a digital age. Trentham.

Craft, A., Chappell, K., Cremin, T., & Jeffrey, B. (2015). Creativity, education and society. Institute of Education Press, University College.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2015). Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Feldman, D. H., Mihály, C., & Gardner, H. (1994). Changing the world: A framework for the study of creativity. Praeger.

Future of Jobs (2016) Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/

Gardiner, H (1993) Multiple Intelligences: In a Nutshell retrieved from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/resources/multiple-intelligences-in-a-nutshell

Gross-Loh, C. (2014, March 17). Finnish Education Chief: ‘We Created a School System Based on Equality’. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Gross-Loh, C. (2014, March 17). Finnish Education Chief: ‘We Created a School System Based on Equality’. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://plchelsinki.fi/

Homepage | Project Zero. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/

Jeffery, B & Craft, A. (2004, 03). Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity: Distinctions and relationships. Educational Studies, 30(1), 77-87. doi:10.1080/0305569032000159750

Ma, J: Everything we teach should be different from machines. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH-fdIkdL_Q

Mirages et miracles – trailer. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/248983439

Playful learning. (n.d) Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/147461730

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2017). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

Walker, T. D. (2015, October 01). The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-joyful-illiterate-kindergartners-of-finland/408325/

Walsh, C., Chappell, K., & Craft, A. (2017, 06). A co-creativity theoretical framework to foster and evaluate the presence of wise humanising creativity in virtual learning environments (VLEs). Thinking Skills and Creativity, 24, 228-241. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2017.01.001

What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/eisner_arts_and_the_practice_of_education.htm

 

 

 

From Fiction to Reality

In the future, George Orwell imagined that there would be telescreens, speakwrite and printed postcards, much like computers, CCTV cameras and emails of today (Orwell, 1949). In 1985, Back to the Future predicted flying cars, hoverboards, fingerprint recognition and wearable technology. In Dave Eggers’ book “The Circle”, he described data sharing, public transparency and the ultimate connectivity through responsive wearables and smart objects. More recently in Ernest Cline’s book “Ready Player One”, we see students attend virtual schools as avatars in a dystopian world via VR headsets. How accurate and relevant are these “predictions” and are they more fiction than reality? Examining the Horizon report helps us to see what technologies already exist and which possibilities are just around the corner. Through its report, we can ascertain the necessary steps schools will need to take and investigate how to prepare our students for a future world we cannot yet know.

A Relevant Education

Traditionally the purpose of school has been about academic success. Conversely, schools like UWCSEA have developed a holistic programme, but academics are still the focus and grades remain important when transitioning from High School to University. But do academics prepare our students for survival in the future world? What is authentic learning and a relevant education in 2018? Ken Robinson argues that “creativity, innovative and interpersonal skills and social sensitivity” are the fundamental skills needed (Robinson, 2017). There is never a more relevant time for changing the way students learn with so much technology at their fingertips. As the world of connectivity evolves and the need for innovative and creative entrepreneurs are ever more required, schools need to change. Out with the prescribed curriculum, standardised tests and end terminal examinations and in with digital literacies, multimodality and collaborative learning. Robinson talks about the past when practical and vocational subjects taught the skills that were needed for the workforce (Robinson, 2017). What skills are needed for our emerging world? Creative thinking and innovation have often been under-supported, but they couldn’t be more needed to help solve world problems in our ever growing planet and overwhelmed environment and infrastructure. But as technology threatens to take over our every chore, we need to educate students on surviving the pressures of today with strategies to cope with distractions and peer pressure, safety online and digital citizenship. There is a demand for digital fluencies (Crockett and Churches, 2017) to be compulsory within education norms. Web literacy is a basic skill when reading, writing and participating on the internet. Students need to be taught how to navigate, participate and to synthesize information in order to make sense of it and apply it. It is no longer enough to be solely an acquirer of knowledge; one needs to participate to learn effectively in today’s connected society (Sfard, 1998). But along with this comes pressure and they need to be helped in finding balance and develop strategies through positive role models. By humanising education through personalised learning the rewards will be empowered and intrinsically motivated individuals.

Real-world learning

As one reads the most recent Horizon Report, there are trends of technology in education that continue to feature in their ongoing research. Digital literacy, personalised learning and deep learning have been core areas of study over the past 5 years. More recently the popularity of STEAM, coding, learning spaces and virtual reality have been investigated. (Freeman, Adams Becket, Cummins, Davis & Hall Giesinger, 2017). Many schools have introduced coding for learning across their curriculum and Makerspaces support the rise of STEAM to reflect the skills needed for the world in which we live now.

Schools are responding to the changing curriculum by looking at how to incorporate digital tools effectively within the existing learning environment. Mobile technology aids this transition, with tablets and phones but with this comes distraction and information overload.

Gamification is not a new learning theory and gamified approaches have long since featured in a teacher’s toolkit. Spurred on by Jane McGonigal’s TED talk, “Gaming can make a better World”, wider understanding and acceptance of the power of games and game-based learning led to the development of apps like Quizlet and Duolingo where learning is personalised and adaptable both in the classroom and at home.

The popularity of learning through YouTube over the past 10 years or more has enabled the medium of video to become a hive of activity for both consumers and creators. Individuals have become more open to direct their own learning and as a result online courses through EdX, Coursera, Udemy or MOOCs, have risen in popularity. My own experience of online engagement courses has been motivational, as I can choose a course which meets my needs at a time that best suits me. Practices of flipping classrooms and using videos within apps like Edpuzzle are becoming more usual practices. Similarly, teacher-monitored study sites and mobile apps like MyiMaths, Quizlet and Doddle help integrate person-centred learning opportunities alongside traditional teaching methods. Personalised learning has to be key in the future, where individual needs are understood and digital tools are chosen to improve differentiation. Students will need to become more self-directed learners in order to be motivated to drive their own learning and upskilled for the world of tomorrow.

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Photo Credit: Bratislavsky kraj Flickr via Compfight cc

Emerging Technology

In the Horizon report, virtual reality (VR) features heavily as emerging technology for schools. But “it will take a few years before VR becomes vital to schools around the world.” (Freeman et al., 2017, p.46). As an example of experiential learning, VR has much potential to help students understand and immerse themselves in an environment, situation or place. Google Expeditions has been successful in classrooms as a cheap and simple option when starting out with immersive technology. Being able to step into another world and experience life in another culture or underwater brings the unreachable into the classroom. Simulations prove fun and engaging and this aspect of VR is seen as a potential direction for schools. Relevant world experiences, whether real or virtual, engage and help deeper and authentic learning. In Michael Bodekaer’s TED demonstration of a virtual science lab, he explains how important the education of today’s generations of scientists is in solving world issues such as population growth, health and the environment. He sees immersive technology as a tool to engage and understand difficult concepts and situations to reimagine learning as we know it (Bodekaer, 2015). Apps like Google’s Tilt Brush take VR to the next level. The possibilities are endless but, as it is still in its infancy, we are, as yet, limited in the examples of schools successfully integrating VR into the classroom. The next 12 months will be crucial in changing this shift, as technology evolves and becomes more viable economically and practically.

Focus on Fluencies

With the increasing advancements in technology, there is a growing need to embed the teaching of digital fluencies. Linked to this, in his book “Creative Schools”, Robinson says that we should be teaching students 8 core competencies: curiosity, creativity, criticism, communication, collaboration, compassion, composure and citizenship (Robinson, 2015). To be able to critically question, develop innovative ideas and solve complex problems are crucial skills that build students capabilities to live and work in a future world. As schools change and adapt so must teachers themselves will need to keep abreast of these new literacies.

With these competencies in mind, Director of IT at UWCSEA, Ben Morgan, says schools need to focus on what is needed right now and the relevant technologies that can help us to learn most efficiently. He says that he sees “great examples of using technology all over the College, but what I would love is for the best of that to be in use everywhere” (B. Morgan, personal communication, January 20, 2018). An example of this is the use of Teamie, an online learning platform, used for discussion, sharing of resources, feedback and ongoing formative assessment. If all teachers employed it consistently, then all students would use it effectively, resulting in deeper learning. Only then should we move on to other emerging practices and tools that support learning and enhance digital literacy. Digital fluency has never been more important and, rather than continuing to chase the next best thing, schools should focus on what is the right technology for their students and fully embed it in the curriculum.

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Photo Credit: Pickersgill Reef Flickr via Compfight cc

With advancement comes balance. As students live increasingly sedentary lives, the importance of play and spending time outside will become even more important. The benefits of play are clear in early years but also for older children: play builds skills in collaboration, tolerance and persistence and the Lego Learning Institute cites play as “an essential ingredient to fuel creativity and capacity as learners” (Whitebread, Ackermann, Gauntlett, Wolbers, Weckstrom, 2012).

Whilst online communities and gaming sites allow for collaboration and communication, face to face interactions are still a crucial part of developing relationships. Whitebread talks about the risks attached to play deprivation and how “children’s cognitive development and emotional well-being” is related to the quality of play. When play is taken away or reduced, so too does cognitive functioning and social and emotional development (Whitebread et al., 2012). Bringing play back to the classroom will bring benefits as well as balance.

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Photo Credit: Marie Gbn Flickr via Compfight cc

Deep Learning

Schools need to change to be relevant. By focussing on a culture of innovation, deeper learning will follow (Freeman et al., 2017). In “Different schools for a Different World”, Scott Mcleod and Dean Shareski talk about the big shifts in deeper learning schools and innovative organisations. These are: changing thinking approaches to school; higher level thinking such as creativity, innovation and problem solving; student agency including personalisation and differentiation; authentic work; technology infusion such as global connections and online environments; and “robust tech integration” (McLeod and Shareski, 2018). They cite schools that are fostering deeper learning including High School High, Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning and New Tech High with projects incorporating communication, collaboration, critical thinking and technical proficiency alongside relevant, real-world situations and in flexible learning environments. (McLeod and Shareski, 2018).

Closing the Digital Divide

With rapid advances in technology, concerns must be raised of the digital divide. How do we lessen this gap whilst technology advances so rapidly? How do children in impoverished areas develop these skills? Is the divide between the rich and poor widening with regard to digital literacy? When will access to technology be free and available to all, so that consumers can become creators no matter their culture, status, age or upbringing? How could schools and communities help towards digital inclusion?

With the dawn of a new era of modern media, who will be left behind to widen the gap even further? Should it not be a human right to have access to modern technology.

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Photo Credit: spin’n’shoot Flickr via Compfight cc

References

Bodekaer, M. (n.d.). This virtual lab will revolutionize science class. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_bodekaer_this_virtual_lab_will_revolutionize_science_class

Brown, A., & Green, T. (2016, 06). Virtual Reality: Low-Cost Tools and Resources for the Classroom. TechTrends, 60(5), 517-519. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0102-z

Crockett, Lee, and Andrew Churches. Mindful Assessment: the 6 Essential Fluencies of Innovative Learning. Solution Tree Press, 2017

Cline, E. (2011). Ready player one. New York: Crown Publishers.

Eggers , D. (2013). The Circle: A Novel. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Mcdonald, D. (2017). The Future Belongs To Those Who Prepare For It Today: How The Nmc Horizon Report (Higher Education Edition) Can Help You Plan Your Institutions Technological Future. EDULEARN17 Proceedings. doi:10.21125/edulearn.2017.0572

Orwell, G. (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four.

McGonigal, J. (n.d.). Gaming can make a better world. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world

McLeod, S., & Shareski, D. (2018). Different schools for a different world. Solution Tree Press, a division of Solution Tree.

Resnick, M. (2012). Let’s teach kids to code. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Changing education paradigms. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. Penguin Books.

Sfard, A. (1998, 03). On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4. doi:10.2307/1176193

Strulle, A. D., & Psotka, J. (n.d.). Educational Games and Virtual Reality. Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook, 824-832. doi:10.4135/9781412994231.n94

  1. (2017, January 27). Sir Ken Robinson – The Learning Revolution, BETT 2017 – PART 1. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMqW79LQS98

The Future of Play. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.legofoundation.com/ko-kr/research-and-learning/foundation-research/the-future-of-play

The Promise of Virtual Reality in Higher Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/the-promise-of-virtual-reality-in-higher-education

Tong, V. (2017, August 23). How Virtual Reality Takes Immersive Contemporary Art to the Next Level. Retrieved from https://theartling.com/en/artzine/2017/08/23/how-virtual-reality-takes-immersive-contemporary-art-to-the-next-level/

Virtual Reality Is for Artists. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://time.com/vr-is-for-artists/

Wegerif, R., & Mansour, N. (2010). A Dialogic Approach to Technology-Enhanced Education for the Global Knowledge Society. New Science of Learning, 325-339. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-5716-0_16

Whitebread, D., Basilio, M., Kuvalja, M. & Verma, M. (2012). The importance of play: a report on the value of children’s play with a series of policy recommendations. Brussels, Belgium: Toys Industries for Europe

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.

 

Connecting the Dots visual note by Nicki Hambleton using Adobe Ideas on iPad

Connecting the Dots visual note by Nicki Hambleton using Adobe Ideas on iPad

As a young child I loved Dot to Dots, joining the seemingly random patterns to reveal a recognisable image. I loved to try to work out what the dots were going to magically transform into by connecting them via advancing numbers. If you have never heard of or done a Dot to Dot before there is one below. Can you tell what this one is going to be?

Photo Credit: whitney waller via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: whitney waller via Compfight cc

The idea of seeing the whole picture is something that has continued with me; from developing meaningful lessons to my “Big Idea” visual notes and it was whilst planning this current post that led me to recall a quote from Steve Jobs:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Despite the uniqueness of this quote, most people talk about looking to the future than the past, it rings true for so much that we do. In order to move forwards we must look to the past: to learn from it, to move on from it or to take ourselves somewhere new. There is no point thinking we can develop anything without building on the past, it is the way we have always been. Even Picasso said that all art comes from what precedes it and Kirby Ferguson talked about the remix culture in his TedTalk Embrace the Remix in 2012.

Do we look back to the past or into the future? What is the future of Education?

What Learning Matters?

Thinking about the future of education and how it might look, takes me back to the Learning 2 Talk “What Learning Matters” by Charlotte Diller of The Chinese International School , Hong Kong. She begs us to think about what what really matters:

“with so much that is now googleable, what learning is it that is going to position our students in a world that is rapidly changing and for a future that is unknown?”

Learning Online

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: giulia.forsythe via Compfight cc

Way back in 1969, the Open University launched and opened its doors to students in 1971. With more than 250,000 students enrolled and more than 1.5 million students having taken courses since it began, it qualifies as one of the largest institutions in the world. Many students prefer distance learning, due to age or health reasons or for convenience of studying at home and this concept of “learn when you want” is common practice these days. We learn in so many ways, from watching a video on YouTube to signing up for an online course through Alison, Coursera or iTunes U. Some time ago I set out to improve my digital skills in Art through online courses in Photoshop and a multitude of alternatives presented themselves to me. Alison has 600 free courses available from Accounting to Yoga with over 4 million learners online. My New Years resolution is to learn more about After Effects and thank goodness Alison has a free course! Coursera takes it one notch further, connecting learners with universities and organisations to provide high quality courses again for free. Back in 2007, iTunes U was launched providing downloadable material for learning and encouraging individuals to set up their own online courses. Wouldn’t it be great if teachers backed up their lessons online through iTunes U extending the class material and pushing students further in their understanding? Two years ago an article on Edudemic encouraged teachers using iPads in the classroom to start using iTunes U as a resource as there were so many lessons already available for them to use. More recently, this summer Techcrunch reported an update that allows teachers more flexibility with creating and managing course content on iTunes U through iPad.

Perhaps I should develop a Visual Note taking course online – would anyone be interested?

We can literally learn anything we want, whenever we choose. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) emerged in 2012 as a way of bringing together unlimited numbers of participants to resources and videos through forums and discussions to build community around content. EdX differs from Coursera and Udacity as a MOOC and online learning platform being non-profit, analysing the data of its users and currently has over 3 million users in over 300 courses online.

It seems as technology advances so too does the amount of choice we have in taking learning into our own hands. But returning to Charlotte’s talk, the combination of emotion and cognition is what is important in the future. The skills of perseverance, creativity and thinking are what will be needed in the future.

So how might this look?

Connectivism: it takes a village to raise a child

Like most people, my best learning and thinking occurs around, from and with others. So the visual note above shows that connecting with people and places is the most effective way to learn, and it is this model that is at the heart of the success of COETAIL. At the beginning of Course 1 I looked at connecting and reaching out to begin to build a network of support as well as encouragement and a point of contact to learn and bounce ideas from. I am eternally grateful to those early supporters, like Matt, Ann and Joe who found the time to connect with me and comment on my posts. And they are still with me, despite our difference in backgrounds and distances in locations. Jim Laney at Learning 2, Africa states, “there is no other continent that values personal connection and social responsibility more than Africa”. (The Right Time. The Right Place). Jim quotes that “it takes a village to raise a child” and to me COETAIL is like a village, consisting of the Elders, the wise ones, always there to guide and push us; the coaches, like the graduates in a family understanding our worries and directing us forward through their own experience; and us, the teenagers, ready to embark on our journey ahead. And as valued members of this COETAIL family, we are there for the new members, those staring out, ready to help them to connect and learn too. It is this “engaged learning” that Jim talks about that is the centre of the philosophies of COETAIL. I remember how difficult connecting was when I lived and worked in Ghana from 2008-10, and the isolation and technology difficulties meant we had to find alternative ways to learn together and move forward our thinking. Challenges force us to think differently, to find solutions and change can be rapid.

Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Dietmar Temps via Compfight cc

Building a Tribe

There are so many incredible and inspirational educators out there, and through COETAIL and Learning 2 I have been privileged to learn and work alongside them. As I think back to where this all started and map my journey above, I realise that connections and emotion are inextricably linked. Without the will to meet and learn we would not connect. Without the drive and desire to change and develop we would not grow. My tribe started small and close to home, with the enviable names of educators I followed on Twitter starting that journey. As an early Twitterer, Jabiz encouraged me to expand my PLN so I duly followed many educators he followed. I learnt so much in the early days from Kim Cofino’s blog Always Learning, introduced to me by the Elementary librarian Tanja Galetti at LCS in Ghana. I am lucky now to work at UWCSEA with Keri-lee Beasley, Dave Caleb, Jeff Plaman and Paula Guinto, all who have helped me in this journey of development but it was Andrew McCarthy who first tapped into my talent as a mere Art teacher dabbling with technology in the classroom and helped me to where I am now. It took a while to believe I had something worth sharing.

Having a tribe of honest, helpful and caring people is crucial in developing trust and belief and it is with this in mind that I wonder how our youngsters can build their own tribes to support and guide them in their learning. How can we foster this in Middle School when they cannot join many social media sites until they are 13?

The Future is Now

Back in January 2012, Sir Ken Robinson talked about Leading a Learning Revolution. He said that:

“every education system is being reformed yet it is not enough. Reform is no use as it is simply improving a broken model. What we need is not an evolution but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else.”

He also stated that people are reluctant to reform or transform as “it has always been done that way”. As I think about this further, I remember Jeff Utecht’s talk “The Future is Here” at Learning 2 Singapore last year:

Jeff told us that we are “in a world where Science fiction meets reality yet Education isn’t changing”. But is it? Are we teaching as we always did? We are bombarded with new ideas and initiatives often when there is barely enough time to teach the curriculum so how can we change for the better, for our students? Maybe we need to change our thinking and ask, as Charlotte did, “What Learning matters, now and in the future?” What walls are you faced with to get around? What is that wall and what is stopping you breaking through it?

Jeff Utecht "What's your Moonshot?" Learning 2 talk 2013 Singapore by Nicki Hambleton

Jeff Utecht “What’s your Moonshot?” Learning 2 talk 2013 Singapore by Nicki Hambleton

From thinking about this course, I ask myself, What am I going to do differently on Monday? The whole experience of COETAIL has led to thinking differently and changing what I do on Mondays, yet I want more and I want it for more students than just the ones I teach. I, like Jeff, am bothered that things aren’t changing and if they are, are they changing for the better, for our students in this unknown future?

Photo Credit: andrew and hobbes via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: andrew and hobbes via Compfight cc

For one, I would like to help my students to grow their PLNs whatever that looks like, to find their go-to people, their supporters, encouragers and guides. Working with online services like blogging and image sharing, I hope to assist them in giving and receiving valuable feedback that will take them forward and transform their learning both in and out of the classroom. But, as always this change in culture will take time, but I hope that, like me, they will see the benefit and beauty in connecting and supporting one another in order to grow and develop.

It is incredible how much changes in a short time. What changes will we see in education, what has changed in the time I have been teaching, or even just in the last 5 years? Sir Ken Robinson finishes his 2012 Learning without Frontiers talk by saying that we should be “customising and personalising education to our students” and in the context we are teaching. It is not about finding a new solution but in developing our own solutions.

What is the Future of Learning? Well, whatever it is, it is in our hands…