Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quotes, comments and discussions on creativity in education

Now more than ever, it is vital to
encourage all areas of young people’s
intellectual and personal capabilities
and to recognise that doing this is
not at odds with their academic
development. The greatest
disincentives to achievements are low
self-esteem and lack of motivation.
Creative and cultural programmes are
powerful ways of revitalising the
sense of community in a school and
engaging the whole school with the
wider community.
Professor Ken Robinson

If you think there is only one answer,
then you will only find one.
Scottish Consultative Council on the
Curriculum, Teaching for Effective

I decided I was only going to do
things for the fun of it and only that
afternoon as I was taking lunch some
kid threw up a plate in the cafeteria.
There was a blue medallion on the
plate - the Cornell sign. As the
plate came down it wobbled. It
seemed to me that the blue thing
went round faster than the wobble and
I wondered what the relationship was
between the two - I was just
playing; no importance at all. So I
played around with the equations of
motion of rotating things and I found
out that if the wobble is small the
blue thing goes round twice as fast as
the wobble. I tried to figure out why
that was, just for the fun of it, and
this led me to the similar problems
in the spin of an electron and that led
me back into quantum
electrodynamics which is the problem I’d been working on. I continued to
play with it in this relaxed fashion
and it was like letting a cork out of a
bottle. Everything just poured out
and in very short order I worked the
things out for which I later won the
Nobel Prize.
Richard Feynmann, Nobel Prizewinning

Creative play seeking to see the
world afresh - is at times a fight
against the fascination which familiar
associations and directions of thought
exert on us. Young people need to be
encouraged to understand the
importance of this kind of play.
Professor Lewis Minkin

The creation of something new is not
accomplished by the intellect alone
but by the play instinct. The creative
mind plays with the objects it loves.
C. G. Jung

Imagination is more important than
Albert Einstein

There is no such thing as a single
general intelligence, which we all
possess to a greater or lesser degree.
We all have a unique combination of
different kinds of abilities, which can
and do change throughout our lives.
Scottish Consultative Council on the
Curriculum, Teaching for Effective

Each of us have a different mosaic of
intelligences. Uniform schooling
ignores these differences.
Howard Gardner

Regenerating a Whole Town
Huddersfield is midway through its three-year Urban Pilot Project, which
aims to demonstrate, on behalf of the European Commission, how
creativity might be nurtured, not just in individuals but in a whole town.
It is believed that the creativity and prosperity of a town can grow
unchecked if a system can be developed for releasing human potential.
The Huddersfield Creative Town Initiative (HCTI) is based on the Cycle
of Creativity - generating ideas and then turning them into reality,
circulating and marketing ideas, setting up platforms for delivery, and
promoting and disseminating these ideas. The range of projects which
constitute HCTI broadly follow these five stages of the cycle. One of the
creative initiatives in this project is that of Artimedia’s Enter and Return
training courses. Since April 1998 over 100 people have been trained in
the creative uses of computing, with courses ranging from absolute
beginners, for those who have never touched a computer, to ‘web
weaving’, which looks at cutting-edge technology and new developments
on the world-wide web. By introducing local people to the creative
potential of new technologies, the company is opening up new ways of
thinking about and using computers and encouraging people to
experiment with computers in their own areas of interest.
Information provided by Huddersfield Creative Town Initiative

We must educate the whole child -
creatively, culturally, spiritually,
morally, physically, technologically
as well as intellectually. Good
teachers recognise this and develop
the child to his/her potential. The
greatest gift you can give a child is
self-esteem and confidence in their
ability. If a child has these, no
challenge is too great for him/her.
Carol Traynor, head teacher
Realising Potential
When the guidelines for specialist school status were published, both
Kidbrooke and Thomas Tallis Schools considered applications. This was
not just because examination results in these areas were high, but because
of the contributions the arts make to the ethos of the schools and to
students’ learning. The arts play a vital role in raising the self-esteem and
self-confidence of students. Through performance, young people gain pride
in their achievements. Students learn to reflect on their work, to analyse
strengths and weaknesses; they test out a version of their work and, after
evaluating it, they revise and hone it until they are satisfied. They learn
that it is safe to take risks: that by practising and repeating they are able
to improve and develop an idea. By viewing other people’s work, that of
professionals and other students, they experience situations and visions
through someone else’s eyes. The arts allow young people to explore
emotions and fears in a safe, controlled situation. They are able to look at
difficult and painful situations by externalising them and putting them
into the third person. They can take risks in finding solutions to
problems without it affecting their own relationships so that they can
choose the best way in ‘real’ life. They can explore new ideas and
develop their understanding of the world. They learn to compare
experiences from different cultures and different eras. They begin to find
out about the technologies which surround the arts and the skills which
are vital to the cultural industries. The arts are not a diversion from the
‘real’ curriculum. They are a vital part of the life of a school and can be
central to raising achievement.
Trisha Jaffe & Nick Williams, head teachers, Kidbrooke School &
Thomas Tallis School

A core aim of our education system
must be to enable all children to
develop their creativity and unlock
their creative potential... If the
innovative and creative minds of
tomorrow are to be nurtured and
inspired, teaching has to be developed
in a way which appeals to the creative
and emotional and which encourages
conceptual thinking. The curriculum
review is an opportunity to create a
new dynamic which will allow this to
Moira Fraser Steele, Director of
Education & Research, The Design

Art is not a diversion or a side issue.
It is the most educational of human
activities and a place in which the
nature of morality can be seen.
Dame Iris Murdoch, writer

The arts are other ways of expressing
and communicating experiences,
feelings and ideas. Various materials,
instruments, tools, techniques and
skills are used to express and
communicate those feelings and ideas
in a creative form. In the creative arts
we are training children to look, see
and know. To observe fine detail and
to develop sensitivity, which remains
with them forever, can have a
profound effect on the way they view
the world and in some cases cause a
change in attitude. The creative arts
develop thinking and problem solving
strategies in an enjoyable
way. This can enhance all other areas
of the curriculum.
Carol Traynor, Head, St. Boniface
RC Primary School, Salford

To communicate through the arts is
to convey an experience to others in
such a form that the experience is
actively recreated actively lived through by those to whom it is
Raymond Williams

There are different routes of entry into
each child’s mind. It is amazing how
much can be taught when subject
boundaries are taken away.
Professor Helen Storey

Stories that Sing
Over the 1998 Summer term, Children’s Music Workshop ran a pilot for
a three-year project to explore ways of using creative class music to
enhance Key Stage 2 children’s understanding of the use of language. The
pilot, in three Tower Hamlets primary schools, combined composition,
songwriting, storytelling and performance, and encouraged teachers to
link the work with the literacy programme. Two of the schools have a
99.9 per cent Bengali intake and the third school has an 80 per cent
Bengali intake. The children in each of the schools were alert, attentive,
and highly motivated by the project. All of them participated, often to the
surprise of their teachers, throwing themselves into the work with real
enthusiasm. The pilot began with a workshop for the class teachers, to
give a taste of the work that would be done by the children. This was
followed by eight weekly sessions with each class, culminating in a
performance by each class to the rest of the school. To stimulate the
children’s imaginations, the projects focused on wishes, a drawing, a
‘magic’ hat and mat. The children worked in small groups to create
poems, verses and stories which they developed into whole-class songs
and instrumental pieces. There were considerable differences between the
schools and the teachers in terms of their experience and attitude to
music, although all of them embraced the project with energy and
enthusiasm. The pilot was considered by the teachers, head teachers and
musicians to have been very successful. All the teachers want to continue
to be involved, the children are hugely enthusiastic, and the musicians
found it exciting and stimulating.
Information supplied by Children’s Music Workshop

We are throwing out the baby with
the bathwater in this country if, in an
attempt to have a standardised and
demanding curriculum, we leave no
room for teachers to exercise a little
judgement and imagination in an
excursion of the academic piste. If
they are so focused on a fixed
curriculum, so rigid that there is no
time, literally, for anything as
important as the human mind, then
we are in for a very sorry future
society. It could also be argued that
the teachers themselves would benefit
from a broader view. Surely a teacher
who has become excited, and learnt a
new angle on a subject, will import
renewed enthusiasm and vigour back
to the class.
Independent, 3rd December 1998

The arts are quite simply a magic key
for some children and within the
hands of gifted committed teachers of
the arts they are a key to all children,
not only do they open the mind of
the learner, they then reveal a cast
cornucopia of endless delight,
challenge and opportunity.
Professor Tim Brighouse, Chief
Education Officer, Birmingham City

We cannot afford poverty of vision,
let alone poverty of aspiration. There
are always risks in changing, but the
risk of failing to change is much
Valerie Bayliss, 1998, Redefining
Schooling, RSA

The most important developments in
civilisation have come through the
creative process, but ironically, most
people have not been taught to create.
Robert Frotz, The Path of Least
Resistance, 1994

Each child has a spark in him/her. It
is the responsibility of the people and
institutions around each child to find
what would ignite that spark.
Howard Gardner

Learning involves going beyond
simply acquiring new information
and adding it to our existing
knowledge. It involves us in making
sense of new information by using
our existing knowledge and
modifying, updating and rethinking
our own ideas in the light of this new
Scottish Consultative Council on the
Curriculum, Teaching for Effective

The world of reality has its limits.
The world of imagination is
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

What If?
One of the most powerful prompts to creative thinking is the asking of
open-ended questions. Some answers will be better than others, but none
is likely to be ‘wrong’. Set out an odd number of counters on a table.
Explain that you will need four volunteers, forming two teams of two: the
rest of the group choose to support one or other team. Ask the teams and
their supporters to gather at either side of the table. Stand between the
two teams and explain that you’ll ask a ‘What If?’ question. Immediately
the two teams will begin having answers. The team to your right may
speak at normal volume into your right ear; the team to your left at
normal volume into your left ear, simultaneously. Team supporters must
not speak to you directly, but can relay their answers by whispering them
to their team members. For each reasonable answer you receive, that team
will get a point in the form of a counter. When all the counters have been
distributed, the game has thirty seconds left to run. During that time,
good answers will win points from the opposing team’s store of
counters. After thirty seconds blow a whistle to signal the end of the
round. Take care to explain that although one of the teams has
accumulated more points than the other, they’ve all won because:
You’ve proved that everyone can have lots of ideas if the circumstances
are right (and you need to have lots of ideas in order to have good ideas).
You now have lots of ideas, and therefore some good ones you can look
at in more detail.
From Imagine That by Stephen Bowkett

Drama Provides Equal Opportunities
Equal Voice focuses on new ways of resolving conflicts with special
regard to individual self-esteem. Some of the work was undertaken at
Crusoe House, a school for children with emotional and behavioural
difficulties (EBD). Often pupils remain at EBD schools for many years
and some are never reintegrated into mainstream schools. The work
improves a child’s ability to be emotionally articulate, gives them a
voice and raises their self-esteem so that they can begin to take
responsibility for their own behaviour. This small change in attitude is
often enough for a child to be able to return to mainstream education and
modify the behaviour that has caused, and been reinforced by, the stigma
of exclusion and low achievement. Irene Flynn, head at Crusoe House
said of Equal Voice: ‘Drama’ provides opportunities to explore and
release a variety of emotions in a safe environment. This encourages our
pupils to experiment with different ways of behaving - increasing their
repertoire of acceptable responses. The majority of our pupils have low
self-esteem, often feel under attack and will over-react in a confrontational
and sometimes aggressive manner. The drama programme was of real
benefit to pupils. It encouraged positive interaction and group work. The
environment created by the drama workshops was non-threatening and
dispelled much of the everyday hostility. Staff also benefited from
observing how their pupils responded to the expertise and techniques
used by the Equal Voice leaders.
Information provided by Pop-Up Theatre

Every Subject a Creative Subject
Malbank School and Sixth Form Centre in Cheshire has been identified
as one of a number of vastly improving schools. The head teacher
attributes their success to creative and cultural education: Visitors are
invariably struck by a range of creative, purposeful activity taking place
throughout the school. They see evidence of a lively cultural life, which
values creative and cultural education for its own sake, for what it
contributes to young people’s achievements and to the success of a
school. Virtually everyone gains good GCSE and four good A levels is
the norm at the sixth form of some 400. We regard every subject as a
creative subject, in which youngsters are encouraged to think creatively
and work creatively. They create aesthetically pleasing, useful ‘things’
alongside interesting and stimulating images and ideas; they tackle
problems requiring imaginative solutions; they participate in events and
celebrations which enhance the school’s ‘learning culture’ and they
experience something of the traditions and cultures of people in other
times and in other societies. This ‘sort’ of education, institutionalised
through agreed curriculum principles and entitlements, monitoring,
review and development, develops students’ key skills and motivates
them to participate actively, to take pride in their work, to want to learn
more. Creative and cultural education contributes to their having the
means and the will to achieve success. OFSTED found that Ôteaching,
learning and academic standards are of a very high order; ‘quality
standards’, ‘high achievement’ in a ‘good school which is determined to
become even better’. This is not despite our putting thought, time and
energy into the creative and cultural dimensions of the curriculum. It is a
product of our doing so.
Allan Kettleday, Headteacher, Malbank School

Everybody can be somebody
I have yet to meet a young person who does not want to do well. They
want to be recognised for their achievements. They want to show that
they too have something to offer. They want to feel they are somebody.
We want standards to rise, but sideline that very area of learning where
many students can excel. It is not uncommon for parents to make it clear
that they would prefer their child to drop art, dance, drama and, if need
be, music, to make way for more important subjects. The arts can build
confidence in the student, release talent in their learning, and act as a
lightening conductor for achievement in other subjects. Some schools
greatly value expressive subjects in their own right, and as a vehicle
capable of driving higher standards in other areas of learning. In these
schools, framed art work proudly displayed shouts out, from every wall,
how good individual student work can be. The fact that this framed work
survives undamaged makes a powerful comment about pride and personal
discipline. The same is true of music, dance and drama. These learners
can demonstrate ability greater than that of the teachers. Not many
subjects can boast this. And it is a degree of relative excellence that
motivates. All can succeed. All it takes is a self-belief and the motivation
to make it work. Everybody can be somebody.
Steven Andrews, Greenwich Education Directorate Secretariat

Developing Teachers’ Own Creativity
In 1997, a teachers’ and artists’ collaborative was established, driven by
the conviction that the current intense focus on education, welcome as it
must be, does not adequately consider the creative needs of teachers. The
acute demands made on teachers by the education system, with its
emphasis on grades, performance and league tables, means that there is
little time or opportunity for them to realise their creative capacity.
Tandem seeks ways in which teachers, working with experienced
practitioners, may be afforded space and time for their own self-expressive,
creative work. Actual practice of an art is not only a source of infectious
excitement, discovery and renewal, but really the only source able to
animate and inform with authority and empowering confidence. One
teacher who attended a Tandem course summarised this project as
follows: “I saw the mention in the TES and rang immediately to check it
really was for me, and not for ‘how to do it’ tips [...] if as teachers we
aren’t creatively and imaginatively alive/enlivened, we can’t create,
imagine and inspire, i.e. we can’t teach. We can deliver, inform, police,
but not teach. Tandem is the first initiative that I’ve come across that
recognises the centrality of teachers’ creativity to their role in education,
and then combines that recognition with the understanding that
practitioners are the best people to nourish and develop that creativity.”
Information provided by the Extension Trust, Tandem Project

Nadine Senior, a teacher whose
knowledge, encouragement and
inspiration motivated a whole
generation of young people. Through
the teaching of dance she helped
shape the lives of many, including
my own. Dance provided a medium
for us to use our imaginations,
communicate, express and devise our
own work. We felt we could achieve
and that we had something relevant
to contribute to our peers, school,
community and beyond. Dance gave
us a hook upon which to hang the
rest of our learning; without it many
of her students would not be here to
substantiate this story.
Dawn Holgate, Education Director,
Phoenix Dance Company


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