Creativity in Education Part 1

Currently I am involved in a fantastic project titled PLP Connect U a joint project with the Department of Education and Powerful Learning Practice. It is a fairly open ended project designed around creating better learning and teaching practice through the development of networks and communities of learners. The approach seems to be a fairly organic one where outcomes are not set in stone but are variable dependent on where the groups push or pull them. This approach creates some fairly messy as well as interesting discussions as well as generating confusion. Confusion is one of my favorite states and a state I thoroughly endorse when it comes to teaching practice as it seems to allow for new models of unexpected thinking to push through. I was recently at a conference where clarity was the buZZ phrase. Students must have total clarity of the desired learning outcome at all times to better enhance their learning ability.

For me that is a method that while having some merit some of the time is not necessarily something that will lead to new thinkings within the students mind so therefor has it’s limitations.

I am part of a group within the PLPConnectU Project entitled Creativity and it is full of great thinkers trying to deepen their students educational experiences and allow for a more creative approach to learning. We were recently asked to comment on the subject of what we were wondering about and I replied with the following.

I am wondering about the following things I’ve read recently. While sounding esoteric they might actually be relevant in a group with the title creativity,

The first is a short statement by Arthur Rimbaud a French Poet

“I say a man must be a seer

Make oneself a seer

The poet makes himself a seer by a lengthy, massive and deliberate disordering of all the senses”

1871

Secondly a statement which follows similar lines found in a book called The Art of Looking Sideways.

“Creativity is a compulsive human urge which demands ritual actions or routine responses and is valid only when one is trading beyond experiences.

The word creativity is frequently appropriated to enhance the mediocre or justify the mundane. That ceaseless and frenetic activity -easy to mistake for purposeful action – which without anything new to say only produces noise and aggregate. No new thoughts no magic moments just more activities in which process becomes product. The true creative act is something else it produces something which never existed before. Whether of small consequence or great significance. A glimpse of the blindingly obvious ignited by the heat off the wires caused by short circuiting thoughts. Insight is unreasoning.

Of course what might appear to be a spontaneous thought may well have been a long time cooking in the unconscious.”

I think these two comments make powerful statements about true creativity requiring alot of work and space and dedication and support to allow it to find it’s way through because to “deliberately disorder all the senses” is a courageous and difficult thing to try. Reordering of the sences is talking about realigning meaning to everything or reassigning different meaning to things.

This is something I personally do alot of and it is something that has come to influence almost all of my art practice. I know how difficult it is to do and the consequences of doing it are sometimes very confusing. Sometimes by reassigning meaning you actually rub up against society and the norms of society which can be very powerful things. But generally out of that confusion comes a moment of absolute inspiration. This is the creative thought. This is the new thought, this is what allows me to percieve the future and this would never have come to me if I had been told the intention of the lesson. Confusion can be a good thing and I wonder how much of it do we allow our students to live in it. Creativity is so much more than providing an art lesson or finger painting or whatever other process based work you would like to see an outcome to.. it is about a commitment to original thought and the difficult process that actually is.

Feel free to comment, these are just thoughts I am trying to better formulate in my own mind when it comes to teaching practice.

If your interested in my art practice I have documented some of it here https://kynanrobinson.wordpress.com

Over the past four years our school has an intensive blogging program. Every child from grade 3 up has a blog. This has been incredibly useful in regrads to us skilling up both students and staff in web 2.0 tools. Skills such as uploading, posting, embedding, dealing with templates and so on are all very effectivly taught through blogging. Our students were mainly using their blogs as digital portfolios. In this format students are uploading content but not really doing much else.
While this skill learning is very important it is really only  very basic learning and I was looking for a way to deepen both the learning experience as well as  teaching using the blogging platform.
I met <a href=”http://me.edu.au/p/richardolsen”>Richard Olsen</a> at a recent forum on blogging and he presented a model which does exactly what I was looking for. This is a model that he along with his team at <a href=”http://www.ideaslab.vic.edu.au/”>Ideas Lab</a> had constructed along with <a href=”http://21stcenturylearning.typepad.com/blog/sheryl_nussbaumbeach/”>Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach</a> of <a href=”http://plpnetwork.com/”>PLP Network</a>.
The four interlinking circles all show a different phases that a learner would move through while blogging. Each phase offering different skills and learning potentials. I imagine that the phases would be moved through seamlessly. Each phase also has implications for the teacher. For instance the connecting phase would result in the teacher having to teach methods of research as well as critical consumption of information.
The communication stage which has the role of sharing information and repurposing information would lead to the implication of understanding copyright and so on.
The real power of blogging comes when linking into these ideas. Practical examples of things you can do to link into these ideas are
1.Blogs have much more power when they are niche blogs as they allow the blogger to connect to a community, they set up stronger parameters for an audience for the blog, beyond the child’s parents and grandparents making it much more authentic.
2.When the comment box is used effectively it also allows for greater connectivity, it leads to deeper discussion, potential for questions and perhaps even debate. We need to teach our students how to comment effectively in order to create discussion.
3.When tagging and categories are done correctly the same happens. Children should be taught to tag for others not just themselves.
4.Blogs allow us to work collaboratively – there is always more knowledge in the group than the individual.
5. We also need to teach our students how to link effectively – this creates a broader knowledge base.
6. Students should be taught how to subscribe to other blogs, thus deepening their knowledge base and community base.
I presented these ideas to my staff and received overwhelmingly positive response. The model that Richard and his team has come up with is a good one as it provides a language that allows us to talk about blogging relative to our teaching practice, it also gives both pedagogical and practical ideas on how to take the idea of student blogging and transform it  or develop it to a deeper learning experience. It is also a model that I feel can be translated to alot of digital literacy’s. Many teachers are STILL unaware of how to apply ICT into their classrooms and see it as being some sort of nuisance rather than required. Models like this one provide substance to those teachers and are very beneficial.
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