Creating Creativity

Dear Internet,

I could use some of your help if you have a moment.

I’ve been fortunate to have been asked to present an extended workshop at the Learning 2.012 Conference in Beijing China in a few weeks. It’s very exciting. I presented at the Learning 2.010 conference in Shanghai two years ago and it was totally awesome, absolutely one of the best learning events I’ve been part of.

The session I’m running this year is called Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom. It’s a big topic that could really go in any number of directions, which is both exciting and scary at the same time (made even more scary by the possibility that we might not have any Internet access that week in China!)

Obviously I feel as though I have something to contribute on the topic or I wouldn’t have suggested it, but I would really love to tap into some of your collective wisdom. I’m a big believer in the wisdom of the crowd, and I’m hoping to pick your collective brains a little.  I’m well aware that all of you together are far smarter and more creative than I can ever be on my own…

Here’s the actual blurb that is listed on the Learning2 website…

Increasingly, the ability to be consistently creative and to think in innovative ways is what distinguishes great companies, great products and great individuals. As educators, what lessons can we learn from this? How can we apply the same principles of creativity and innovation to our classrooms in order to build engaging, interesting and challenging environments for ourselves and our students.

There are some learning outcomes listed there too, just to try and give me some focus. Really though, the cool thing about this particular conference is that it kind of evolves on the fly, and the participants are just as responsible – actually moreso – than the presenters in fleshing out the content of the sessions.

So here is my request…

If you were coming to this session, what sorts of things do you think should be part of it? What ideas, suggestions or activities would you suggest if you were participating in it? If you were running it? Do you have any great stories or ideas that would fit in with the theme? What do you do in YOUR classrooms to make them places of creativity and innovation?

I would really love to bring the wisdom of my network into these sessions. If you can offer your insights, and I really hope you can, please leave a suggestion in the comments below. You could also Tweet, email, Facebook or Google+ me, but to be honest, having all your ideas in the comment thread below would be really convenient.

Thanks! You guys are awesome…

CC BY-SA 4.0 Creating Creativity by Chris Betcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

4 Replies to “Creating Creativity”

  1. Creativity involves making mistakes. …and then figuring out how to get out of them! Teachers and parents too often step in too quickly with the ‘answers’ to the problems because they don’t want the child to struggle, but it is in the struggle that much is learned. The hardest thing to do as an adult is to stand back, but it is more important than ‘giving’ answers! VERY hard to do in a conference session as the ‘wait time’ for a person or group to solve something themselves eats up the presentation time. Too often I’ve seen presenters say, “this is what you should do, but in the time we have I’ll just have to tell you about it.” So, my challenge to you is to try to set up a situation where the conference participants can actually work through a problem in small groups and have the time to discover the satisfaction of learning something through their creative efforts.

  2. A key requirement for creativity is risk taking, exploring outside the norm and expected, and in education we discourage creativity by punishing risk taking in assessment. Few give marks for trying a new approach but failing, reward is provided for doing what is expected and understanding what the teacher wants is the key creative response of many ‘successful’ students. Schools and teachers may be the least possible environment for creative thinking, most teachers gained sufficient success in traditional education and enjoyed this process so much they undertook a career to replicate this. We should look to creative examples such as startups and artists, it is expected that most startups will fail many times before achieving success, and artists thrive in exploring boundaries and going against the grain, neither of which are encouraged and in most cases actively discouraged in most educational environment. So give marks for failures, penalise students who choose safe options, give marks for doing what was not asked for and for challenging expected norms. But this means giving up a huge amount of control to students, not a comfortable space for many teachers, IMHO.

  3. I’d expect to see something about the 3rd Teacher and role of the learning environment. Maybe a focus on progress and process rather than standards and levels. And of course the student centredness of modern pedagogy… of course the ways we achieve that are many and varied, but depend on a shift in the teacher role, a role that many are still reluctant to evolve.

  4. Stretch outside your comfort zone Chris. Reach into yourself, your past, comfortable and uncomfortable, and tell those stories. Establish that connection with the people before you Chris. I feel it is okay to share examples. Some people need that, others do not. Be vulnerable.

    The creativity that happens in the room does not need to be directly related to curriculum. It can relate to the passions of the people in the room. They can then take the experiences learnt in that situation from within themselves and those around them. They can then gradually apply that to their thinking in terms of how they wish to extend the curriculum.

    Jason is right about pushing the boundaries although I feel his view regarding “Schools and teachers may be the least possible environment for creative thinking” is somewhat harsh being a teacher on the ground in a classroom in a school on a daily basis.

    You do not need a connection to the Internet for this extended workshop Chris. Base your workshop on not having the Internet. In advance of the workshop require that your participants to bring old photographs, stories, favourite songs, memories, stories, hobbies and skills to the workshop. If you must use technology then make sure that they have some reasonable client based software for doing stuff (Audacity, Photoshop Elements, Pixelmator, Comic Life, Office, etc). Cardboard, paints, paper and glue can come in handy too.

That's all well and good, but what do YOU think?