Posts Tagged ‘Sir Ken Robinson’

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…