Thursday, April 7, 2011

Creative education - the only alternative to current formulaic teaching

My well worn copy of Elwyn Richardson's inspirational book.Every creative teacher should acquire one -available from NZCER $22. Excellent value - it won't show how to do it but it will show you what can be done if you focus on valuing your students 'voice', lives and discoveries, and are prepared to work along side your students rather than 'teaching' them. As Elwyn writes 'they were my teachers as I was theirs, and the basis of our relationship was sincerity, without which, I am convinced , there can be no creative education'.

In my copy of the book I found the below article. I thought it worth sharing and have only slightly adapted it.It was first sent out in the 1970s to local schools by the Art and Craft Branch - in the days when advisers were advisers not Ministry delivery boys!

Thoughts about creative teaching.

Making things is an important and necessary phase of primary education. Further more it is natural for children It arouses and stimulates immediate and enlarging interests. The whole child pours into the effort and surrenders completely to the task. Teachers rarely see this sustained concentration in other areas of the curriculum.

The willing involvement of the learner is only the beginning of what is gained by such intense application. By making things important abilities are developed:

the ability to imagine
to feel
to summon the inventive mind to create
to discover the confidence to overcome obstacles
and to achieve, under helpful guidance, a piece of finished work that gives pleasure to the learner.

The creative process of making things is practice in what is man's chief accomplishment: the prolonged control of mind and body in making something that is considered worthy of his peer group.

The greater variety of materials with which the children have experience, the greater is their confidence of their ability to express ideas.

Children have two languages, the one they use and the more adult vocabulary which they understand but do not normally apply. However, as teachers talk to them about work that absorbs their complete attention, they quickly find the need for using a more mature speech. They may come to this in time but by making things, but with competent and friendly guidance their language growth speeds up. Developing skills in using such words, as they explain or inquire, becomes a necessity. In such a learning environment children move naturally into a swift acceptance of more mature language use.

A maturity of bearing comes to the student through such activities. The things the teacher has to offer have been around all the time but teachers help students really see them and learn to use them. This is the teacher's job but the teachers reward comes not entirely from skills that appear but from the gradual transformation of child-like, and even childish, behaviour into something finer - the control of thoughtless impulses and the quiet persistence that learners achieve as they work towards achieving well conceived goals.

In every school activity there are things to make. For example children involved in a colonial history study might learn about the importance of candles as one of the main sources of light. Out of this appreciation they learn how to make candles, make them, and later try them out in a dark room. In this way they can imaginatively enter, or gain a feeling for, the experience of the settlers they are studying. Their in-depth research might lead them to writing original songs, diaries, making water wheels, windmills and, by so doing, recapture something of the experience of those early settlers.

Children by this means practice some of the 'new' kinds of learning- experience -learning- research learning- sharing learning -learning though imagination - and invention and experimentation.This is creative education.

Such learning not only develop language facility but also results in:

the rapid absorption of mature attitudes
strong absorbing interests
the emergence of self initiated ideas
and a final product which provide learners with the confidence to try new things.

Wherever this kind of creative teaching is found it is evident that the teacher's main contribution is their own enthusiasm as co-learners.

Quality learning is not possible without a creative teacher. Through subtle directing the teacher keeps the whole activity going. Teachers show, through honesty and without flattery, their admiration for high personal achievement. They are patient with the slow learners and do not give approval to work that is shoddy. Quite often teachers withhold assistance to children in difficulty when they sense that the learner is working in the right direction sensing and will eventually achieve success through application and persistence.

The teacher's use of language, their confidence in the worth of students efforts ideas make such teachers a positive influencing personality in the classroom. Such teachers are at work all the time but their pupils may never be aware of it.

The spirit of the article above is what has driven me over the years and it is sad to see such creativity being sidelined by imposed by formulaic 'best practice ' teaching, and a 'Victorian' obsession with literacy and numeracy - an obsession that with imposition of National Standard will all but destroy such creative teachers.

I have faith that creative teachers will continue in these dark reactionary times and that creativity will once again be seen as the only way to the future.

Design by Free Wordpress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Templates