Essay: Teaching creatively can inspire students

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  • Subject area(s): Education essays
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  • Published on: November 7, 2018
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In this assignment I am going to discuss how a creative approach can be used to teach the key aspects within Science and History. I will begin by analysing the various theories surrounding creativity; what it means, what the basis of teaching creatively and teaching for creativity is and how these approaches impact the cognitive development of today’s children. In addition to this, I will use personal experiences to underpin my own thoughts and ideas regarding how both teaching creatively and teaching for creativity can inspire, engage and support pupils learning within my chosen subjects, Science and History. Furthermore, I will discuss the impact this module and my reading has had on my pedagogical choices and practice.

Williams (1976) proposes that creativity is a ‘can’t’ word on account of its relation to the artistic work of famous litterateurs and thus, is unattainable for the general population. This, I believe, is a statement of which teacher’s need to revolutionise within their practice as the term ‘creative’ can be associated with all forms of work and is thought to be a natural human characteristic defined as an extension of our enthusiasm (Nightingale, 1999). Tanggaard (2013) concurs with the ideology that creativity can be associated with innumerous powerful and potentially life altering art forms, however, argues that creativity can also transpire into everyday life. With this in mind, Jones (2013) hypothesises that there is no correlation between one’s intellect and their degree of creativity. Furthermore, stating that generally individuals who are more creative believe the formulation of a problem is more important than its solution; this implies that individuals of any cognitive development is able to demonstrate creative processes and ability as opposed to the idea that creativity requires fame and recognition. To me, this highlights the importance of a teacher’s role in supporting and scaffolding this mannerism in today’s young scholars.

These altering viewpoints can be expressed via ‘big C’ and ‘little c’ which have become apparent numerous times throughout my reading. These references provide a range in terms of creative strength; ‘big C’ referring to extensive creative abilities that are inventive and considered as breakthrough ideas and ‘little c’ referring to everyday creativity of which may be more evident in our classrooms (Mauzy, 2003). Runko (2014) argues that these definitions are impervious, suggesting that there is an assumption that ‘big C’ creativity requires fame, reputation and high level achievement. Runko implies that these terms are a dichotomy, of which poses an issue as separating high-standard achievements from everyday creativity suggests ‘big C’ creativity is to be glorified more so than the work of ‘little c’ standards. Both forms of creativity require similar thought processes and the scale of success, comprising of three nodes – the individual, their talents and interests and the domain in which they operate, is extraneous to the level of creativity possessed by the individual (Craft, 2001).

From my reading, I can now appreciate that creativity is a hard concept to define and there is not merely one definition available; this could potentially be due to the fact that creativity can be viewed as a controversial topic and the views held on the subject change substantially over time due to ever-changing societal factors. For the purpose of this assignment, the ‘democratic definition’ provided by the NACCCE (1999) is the most suited to my own opinion on the matter. Within this, creativity is defined as a skill of which is achievable for everybody in some shape or form when provided with the relevant knowledge and conditions. Therefore, I believe that teachers should provide these opportunities for all pupils to succeed in line with their own strengths and abilities in regards to their creative achievements. This leads me onto a discussion exploring how teaching creatively and teaching for creativity can support pupils in reaching their full potential.

Gregerson (2012) offers an explanation of the difference between teaching creatively and teaching for creativity. She states that teaching creatively can be defined as applying an imaginative approach in order to make learning more engaging and thus, have a greater impact on the children. In addition to this, Gregerson defines teaching for creativity as a method of teaching pupils outlooks towards creativity and scaffolding how to develop creative processes and conduct. Jeffery and Woods (2003) supports this definition and suggests that teaching creatively can have a major effect on learning. Teaching creatively can cause an immediate experience of a dynamic, captivating and caring ethos in the classroom which in turn makes the learning experience relevant to the pupils and therefore, has the ability to cause children to strive in this atmosphere. However, Brinkman (2010) argues that simply modelling creativity is unlikely to be enough to instil creative thinking in our pupils. She claims a combination of both teaching creatively and teaching for creativity should be present in our classrooms in order to lead to a high standard of both teaching and learning. Jeffery et al (2004) supports Brinkman in this view and adduces that although the distinction between teaching creatively and teaching for creativity has been useful in highlighting the importance of both strands, there is a risk of creating a new dichotomy of which may become institutionalised in educational discourse, leading to restrictive pedagogic ideologies. Jeffery’s research explored how children felt more engaged and interested when the teacher was being creative and therefore, inspired them to model the teacher’s approach. This meant children then proceeded to find themselves in situations where they could take control and ownership; this caused them to be innovative and thence, creative in their learning. This emphasises that the relationship between teaching creatively and teaching for creativity is integral and in many situations, the former leads directly to the latter, reiterating the importance of teachers building circumstances that foster both of these approaches in order to aid pupils learning and development.

As previously discussed, creativity can be viewed as an ever-changing, controversial topic; due to this, instilling this approach in the classroom does not always come without problems. Gregerson et al (2012) and Tan (2007) suggest that creativity can get left behind in a world of tests and progress. With heightened pressure being put on teachers, it has been seen that creativity is not a priority held by all teachers; it is a matter of what gets the children to progress without increasing their already large workload. In spite of this, if creativity were to be fostered to aid children’s learning and thence, progression, teachers would see an impact that cannot be achieved by simply using worksheets and the extra workload may be seen as worthwhile (Starko,2018). Desailly (2012) suggests that the view of teaching creatively is a pitfall for many teachers as they believe they are not creative individuals themselves. Desailly further explores the matter and claims that once you are able to model your own creativity and ‘have a go’ you can adapt your teaching approach to harness your new found abilities and begin the process of teaching for creativity.

There is a common issue surrounding the term ‘creativity’ of which is that it is generally related to the teaching of the arts (Wreen, 2015). In despite of this ideology held by many, I do not agree that it should be limited to a particular set of subjects; creativity should be fostered in all areas of the curriculum. This is supported by Shamsi (2017) who suggests that not only should we encourage creativity in all pupils, but as a society we must learn to be rece
ptive to it by being open to new, innovative approaches in areas we may not expect it. I am going to discuss the use of teaching creatively and teaching for creativity within both Science and History, using practical experiences and a variety of reading to support me.

Love (2010) suggests that Science should harness the creativity instilled in our pupils, claiming that teaching without this in mind would be detrimental to the children in our classrooms; this is because teaching creatively can be said to stimulate the minds of pupils and engages them in the lesson. From saying this, I have practical experiences to support Love’s theory. At the start on a Science lesson, I got my pupils to ‘become’ the scientist; this involved them ‘putting on’ their gloves, lab coats and goggles and switching on their science brains. Teaching in this way aided pupils in becoming focused on the learning goal and kept them engaged throughout the lesson. Although teaching creatively engaged the children, as Brinkman (2010) outlined, the importance of teaching for creativity was evident in this lesson which focused on the key element ‘scientific observations’. I ensured that I had a lesson planned that encompassed inspiring and thought-provoking tasks for which children could take the lead and create their own investigations (enquiry-based learning). In order to secure this teaching approach, I allowed children to make their own decisions about what they wanted to investigate, thus, employing their creative abilities by allowing them to form their own questions and find their own ways to answer these (Jeffery, 2004). We were doing an experiment to see how well a salt and vinegar solution cleaned a penny in comparison to other solutions. Children picked up to 3 other substances to test out of a selection of 8 possibilities; this meant that their investigation was completely unique to them, thus causing them to use their creative thinking and problem solving abilities in order to test their personal hypothesis.

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