"Thoughtful educators are not simply interested in achieving known effects; they are interested as much in surprise, in discovery, in the imaginative side of life and its development as in hitting predefined targets achieved through routine procedures. In some sense our aim ought to be to convert the school from an academic institution into an intellectual one. That shift in the culture of schooling would represent a profound shift in emphasis and in direction."
                                                                                         -- Elliott W. Eisner

Creative Learning

We believe that learning should be fun, engaging, challenging and purposeful. Above all its should be creative. Learners need opportunities to make meaning. This is an active process which requires teachers to act as facilitators, promoting enquiry and problem-solving. We recognise that people love to learn but that this natural urge to be creative can often be stifled by formal education. Successful learning often begins with a question and young people can benefit from the support of more experienced learners. Teachers (or learning professionals) can fulfill this role but so too can parents, carers, older students and members of the local community. There are clearly concerns about eSafety, but the internet provides us with amazing opportunities to connect with other learners and learning professionals across the globe. This is the kind of learning we are attempting to model in our Pop Up School.

Higher Order Thinking

There is still a pervasive myth that creativity and creative thinking are mysterious and lack rigour. On the contrary, creative learning requires higher order thinking skills. Here is a list of learning verbs that might be associated with Bloom's revised taxonomy (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001):

  • Creating - designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making
  • Evaluating - checking, hypothesising, critiquing, experimenting, judging, testing, detecting, monitoring
  • Analysing - comparing, organising, deconstructing, attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating
  • Applying - implementing, carrying out, using, executing
  • Understanding - interpreting, summarising, inferring, paraphrasing, classifying, comparing, explaining, exemplifying
  • Remembering - recognising, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding

Divergent Thinking

Established in the 1950s by psychologist J.P. Guilford, the concept of Divergent Thinking describes the process of developing multiple solutions to a given problem or stimulus. Often seen as a major component of creativity, divergent thinking can have a number of characteristics: fluency (the ability to produce ideas quickly); flexibility (the capacity to consider a variety of approaches simultaneously); originality (the ability to produce ideas that are different from those of others); and elaboration (the ability to think through the details of a given idea and carry it out). Edward de Bono has developed a similar theory which he prefers to call Lateral Thinking. This is the process of arriving at new ideas through an indirect, creative approach. De Bono has created several sets of thinking tools to support the development of lateral thinking.


A State of Flow

Proposed by positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept Flow describes a mental state in which a person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. There is clearly a relationship between creativity and flow. Csíkszentmihályi identifies the following nine factors as accompanying an experience of flow:

1. Clear goals (expectations and rules are discernible and goals are attainable and align appropriately with one's skill set and abilities).
2. Concentrating and focusing, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention (a person engaged in the activity will have the opportunity to focus and to delve deeply into it).
3. A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness.
4. Distorted sense of time, one's subjective experience of time is altered.
5. Direct and immediate feedback (successes and failures in the course of the activity are apparent, so that behavior can be adjusted as needed).
6. Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).
7. A sense of personal control over the situation or activity.
8. The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.
9. People become absorbed in their activity, and focus of awareness is narrowed down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.

Not all are needed for flow to be experienced.

Fostering creativity in schools

The following list is taken from an excellent online introduction to creativity in education by Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia:

  1. Provide in-class time for individuals and groups to just think and let their ideas marinate.
  2. Reward creative ideas and products through public recognition - even if the ideas are still developing or perhaps fail.
  3. Encourage students to take unique and different approaches in their work and reward any efforts in this direction.
  4. Allow mistakes and model positive, supportive responses to mistakes. Encourage learning from their mistakes.
  5. Encourage mental flexibility - taking other viewpoints that they might not usually take.
  6. Explore the environment to stimulate curiosity about their world.
  7. Question students' assumptions and guide them to dig deeper and consider their beliefs and others' to expose students to other ideas.
  8. Stop evaluating or judging too soon. There is a time and place when ideas and their constraints need to be considered, but not too soon or the process will flounder.
  9. Foster cooperation rather than competition.
  10. Offer choices.
  11. Encourage dissent and diversity.
  12. Regularly provide positive feedback.

Think, Act, Share, Create