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Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities Unit 4Encouraging Creativity Welcome to Unit 4: Encouraging Creativity. You may be wondering why an entire unit of training has been dedicated to this one strand of TS&PC. This is because creativity is sometimes associated only with subjects like Art & Design, Music, Drama, Technology & Design and English Literature, etc. However, in the Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities framework, the strand has been deliberately called ‘Being Creative’ to promote the development of creative dispositions and mind-sets across all of the Areas of Learning. This is quite a challenging agenda, as it involves us thinking about how we can create the classroom climate necessary to foster creativity in our pupils. In this unit, we will be learning about how to foster the necessary climate as well as how we can develop these dispositions and mind-sets in our pupils regardless of the subjects we teach. © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
Learning Intention Be aware of how to encourage creativity across the Areas of Learning This is the learning intention for this unit. © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
How do you encourage creativity in your classroom?Activity 1 Current Practice How do you encourage creativity in your classroom? We’re going to begin today with an activity. The purpose of this activity is to get you to think about what creativity means in your subject and how you can develop creativity in your pupils. I’d first like everyone to read the question you see on the slide. On your own, reflect on this question and record your thoughts. (Allow participants a few minutes of think time.) Next, I’d like everyone to find a partner. In pairs, compare your answer or your ideas on this question. What methods do you have in common? What is different about how you each promote creativity? Why is there a difference? Is it more difficult to promote creativity in certain Areas of Learning/subjects? Is that because of the subjects themselves or because of your practice? Is it due to necessity or habit? Do we even have a clear understanding in our minds about what encouraging creativity involves? (Allow pairs a few minutes to share their response to the question.) I’d now like each group to share its findings with the rest of us. (Allow each pair to present. Use a flipchart to record the range of approaches and strategies they mention.) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
How Can We Encourage Creativity?CLIMATE CULTURE CREATIVITY When it comes to encouraging creativity in our classrooms, we need to do more than simply generate activities. As you can see from this diagram, pupils’ creativity is directly impacted by the culture and climate that surrounds them. Before we can help our pupils develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions they need in order to be more creative, we first need to make sure we are providing a culture and climate that is conducive to this learning. From; de A’Echevarria and Patience (Teaching Thinking & Creativity, Autumn 2005) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
How Can We Encourage Creativity?CLIMATE Set open-ended and challenging tasks. Value all pupils’ contributions. Encourage new ideas and approaches. Encourage open communication. Challenge assumptions and stereotypes. Have fun! First of all, we must ensure that we have a positive classroom and school climate in place – one that is constructive, non-threatening and is founded on the belief that all pupils can, and have a right to, learn. We can help create this climate through the following means: First, we can set open-ended and varied challenges or tasks. Pupils should feel excited and challenged in the classroom, not restricted and directed. An open-ended task has no single correct answer or a single way of getting a correct answer. Therefore, open-ended tasks allow pupils to engage with and apply subject knowledge and skills in an imaginative and creative way – for example through experimentation, role-play, problem-finding and problem-solving. We can also build a positive climate by ensuring that the contributions of all our pupils are valued; and Encouraging risk-taking in order to get pupils to come up with new ideas and approaches. This ties in with the previous bullet point. In order for pupils to contribute novel ideas, they need to know that their contributions are encouraged and that getting things wrong is part of the learning experience. For example, in your class, how do you respond to a wrong answer? Is everyone’s opinion valued by you? By others? Encouraging genuine, open communication is also important. One way to do this is through discussion and debate. A climate with open communication promotes trust, is one where pupils feel they can speak their mind and support ideas, and is one where opinions are taken seriously. We should also work to challenge assumptions and stereotypes and ensure that our pupils appreciate differences and diversity in others. Finally, remember that learning and discovery can and should be fun. Pupils enjoy trying things out without knowing exactly what will happen next. This is why pupils seem to have fun while learning at primary but not so much at post-primary. These are only suggestions. There are many other strategies that we can adopt. What else can we do to create a climate for creativity? (Allow a few minutes for suggestions and discussion.) Before we move on it’s important to also note that there are some overlaps with the characteristics of a classroom that supports Personal Development, Citizenship and the other skills. A climate that encourages creativity takes time to develop. From; de A’Echevarria and Patience (Teaching Thinking & Creativity, Autumn 2005) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
Climate and the Learning CharterSample Charter It’s alright to: Ask questions Try out new things Make mistakes Disagree Say how you feel Challenge statements Have fun when you learn As we just discussed, two of the most important things we can do to foster a positive classroom climate is to encourage new ideas and open communication. One approach to develop these characteristics is to create an agreed learning charter for the classroom. Many classrooms have charters and/or ground rules that focus on acceptable behaviour. A learning charter enables you and your pupils to take risks for learning, not to be afraid of questions and to respond to challenges. This slide shows an example of a learning charter. The document itself is developed through discussion with the pupils over a period of time. Although the document itself can be of great use, the real value is in the discussions you have with the pupils. This is because by involving your pupils in this decision about the classroom, you are demonstrating the value you place on their contributions. However, for the charter to work, it’s important that you value the statements and also model them yourself. (Creating learning charters also gives pupils a voice and, therefore, links to Personal Development and Citizenship.) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
How Can We Encourage Creativity?CLIMATE CULTURE Language Questions Tools The culture of creativity can be defined as the tangible language and tools used to develop it and make it explicit. However, these things can only be used effectively when there is a positive climate to support them. In terms of the language used in the classroom, you should be aware of the language of failure and avoid using it. Language of failure can demotivate pupils and stunt their creativity. Prompts like ‘I know you can do it’ and ‘What help do you need’, on the other hand, give pupils encouragement and hope. Giving pupils the opportunity to ask questions also encourages their creativity. Pupils use their imagination and construct questions of our curiosity and a desire to understand. We need to value our pupils’ questions and get them to look at different types of questions. Questioning also leads to problem-seeking, which is as much a part of creativity as problem-solving. Using stimuli like photographs, poems, a table of data or a statement, for example, and asking them to write a number of questions about them is a good way to encourage pupil creativity and help build a questioning culture. The tools you use in the classroom also influence the learning culture. There are many tools that we can use to encourage different creative thinking skills, for example strategies for seeing multiple perspectives, tips for lateral thinking, mind-mapping, etc. From; de A’Echevarria and Patience (Teaching Thinking & Creativity, Autumn 2005) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
Thinking Tool ‘The Ideas Filter’ ‘Give me all your ideas on…’–Focus on Quantity– Take all ideas Be uncritical Take risks Analyse ideas Judge ideas Question ideas ‘Give me your best ideas on…’ –Focus on Quality– This slide shows a possible thinking tool for promoting creativity. The ‘Ideas Filter’ is a visual tool to help pupils generate, develop and evaluate ideas. It can also be very useful to you in helping to foster a positive and creative classroom culture. It uses a filter funnel analogy to help pupils brainstorm ideas more effectively. In the first stage, the pupils generate as many ideas as possible without fear of judgement – the ‘Give me all of our ideas on….’ stage. When using this tool, you would set aside time (for example 10 minutes) just for this stage. You would also record and display every idea. You do not judge ideas at this stage. This is because we stunt creativity when we ignore, criticise, ridicule, change, analyse or heap faint praise on ideas. Once all ideas are out in the open, the next stage is to think critically about them, building on and combining ideas, if necessary, until everyone agrees on and accepts the best ideas – the ‘Give me your best ideas on…’ stage. Time should be set aside for just this stage as well. Best ideas © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
How Can We Encourage Creativity?CLIMATE CULTURE CREATIVITY Imagining Generating Inventing Taking risks In terms of the Being Creative strand, our goal is to develop the knowledge, dispositions and attitudes, and skills our pupils need to be creative in their learning, life and work. You’ll remember that we reviewed these in detail in Unit 1. In short, creativity is characterised by imagining, generating, inventing and taking risks. When a positive climate and a culture that encourages creativity are in place, our pupils will be better able to display and develop these creative skills and dispositions. From; de A’Echevarria and Patience (Teaching Thinking & Creativity, Autumn 2005) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
The ICEDIP Model Inspiration Clarification Evaluation DistillationThere is no correct order to the process. Each stage has its own mind-set. All Areas of Learning can contribute to aspects of the creative process. ‘Non-creative’ Areas of Learning or subjects can explicitly teach dispositions. Not all stages will apply in every Area of Learning/subject. Inspiration Clarification Evaluation Distillation Incubation Perspiration ICEDIP Model created by Geoff Petty The ICEDIP Model helps illustrate how creativity is a process that anyone can utilise. It is not just a mainstay of the artistic disciplines. The definition of creativity is much broader than this, and all areas of learning/subjects can contribute to the development of a pupil’s creativity by focusing on particular mind-sets and dispositions. The model was conceived by Geoff Petty, an author of many teacher training texts. He asserts that there are essentially six stages of the creative process. According to Petty, the six stages are as follows: Inspiration Clarification Evaluation Distillation Incubation Perspiration. It’s important to note the following points: Pupils do not have to visit the six stages in this particular order. In fact, during the creative process, pupils may visit stages multiple times, sometimes spending hours on a stage and sometimes only seconds. Each stage has its own mind-set, which we’ll review in a moment. All of the Areas of Learning can be used to help our pupils develop their creative skills and abilities. For example, when teaching those ‘non-creative’ subjects, we can help our pupils to develop the dispositions they need to be creative, which we will review in a moment. Finally, not all stages of the creative process will apply in every task or Area of Learning/subject. Some may be more appropriate in certain subjects than others. © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
ICEDIP Mind-Sets INSPIRATION Deeply engrossed, fearless, freeResearching and generating a large number of ideas. Being uninhibited, spontaneous, experimental and intuitive. If most of the ideas are workable, you did not take enough risks! CLARIFICATION Clear-minded, unhurried, questioning Clarifying the purpose and keeping a sense of direction. Focusing on how the finished work will look. Clarification is a process, not an event! It is done at frequent intervals. EVALUATION Self-critical, positive, willing to learn Considering how the work can be improved. Building on strengths, identifying weaknesses and viewing them as opportunities for improvement. Not seeing criticism as a threat. DISTILLATION Strategic, reflective Deciding what ideas to work on. Selecting best ideas or combining them into even better ones. Thinking about where the ideas can take you. INCUBATION Unhurried, trusting, flexible Leaving the work alone for a while, pondering it occasionally (keeping it on the surface of your mind), giving the subconscious time to work on it PERSPIRATION Enthusiastic, positive, persistent Generating a number of drafts, separated with clarification and evaluation phases. Creative people often do not accept a first draft, but go over and over a piece until it is to their liking. Here are the mind-sets for each of the ICEDIP stages. (Pass out Resource Sheet 1.) The contents of this slide also appear on this sheet, which I’m passing out. Creative people switch between one mind-set and another. This is difficult because some mind-sets require very different types of thinking. For example, the openness and inventive nature required in the Inspiration stage is very different than the focused and critical nature required in the Clarification stage. Everyone is stronger in some mind-sets than others, due simply to our personalities. The key is to help our pupils recognise their weaker mind-sets and try to make them stronger in these. When developing creativity in our pupils, it’s also important that we help them to make links between aspects of creativity they are developing in our subject and how those connect to different areas of the curriculum and beyond. © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
Discussion Point Which mind-sets could you develop to encourage creativity in your subject/classroom? As we’re nearing the end of this unit, I’d like us to consider what we’ve discussed so far. During Activity 1, where were looked at how we are currently encouraging creativity in our classrooms, you may have felt there was little you could do to develop the Being Creative strand. After reviewing the stages of creativity and the associated mind-sets, has anyone’s opinion changed? Can any of you see new ways to enhance how you develop creativity in your pupils? (Allow a few minutes for discussion.) © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
Closing Points What pupils say would help them to be more creative:Collaboration and sharing ideas helps. Give us more open tasks; ‘don’t tell us exactly what to do.’ Give us ‘free’ time during the day to be creative and to express ourselves. Give us more choice. Give us confidence; help us ‘do things for ourselves.’ Don’t give us too much help. There shouldn’t be a ‘right and wrong answer.’ That concludes Unit 4. Before we end, I’d like to share a few closing points with you. In a recent study, pupils were asked to suggest what their teachers could do to help them become more creative. These are some of their responses. In our own school, we need to see how well we can meet these requests and encourage our pupils’ creativity. © PMB 2007 © PMB 2007
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