‘Creativity is about liberating human energy’ Howard Gardner

When I was younger I thought creativity was only for certain types of people; the eccentrics, the mavericks and the talented.  In fact my secondary school exaggerated this view by putting all the musicians in their own tutor group, and only a select few were ever allowed in.  I was never allowed in, despite my flirtations with music in a punk band called Death by Yoghurt.  And I do use the term music loosely in this context.

In fact, I went through my early adult years thinking of myself as a rational scientist, and lacking the skills to be creative. That is, until I became a teacher.  Faced with students who didn’t really seem to care that much about glaciation or maps, I had to find creative ways of getting them to learn, often without them realising.  In fact, my lessons are devoted to the creative process of ‘developing ideas that are original and of value’ (Robinson 2001). I want students to make videos, I want them making songs about their work, I want them to question everything and therefore engage with the learning process in a dynamic way that enables them to learn effectively.  I like students to have choice in the classroom, or at least the opportunity to express their thoughts in different ways, whether that is up to them or decided by the teacher. I think Ken Robinson has some great ideas about education and creativity, and his TED talks are worth a look if you’ve not seen them before.  This is also a nice summary.

Recently, I was lucky to be invited into a classroom by Mrs Sholicar, an English teacher at Pleckgate.  Her year 8 class was completing some display work on Gothic literature, a tried and tested approach to inspiring creativity in students.  However, in this lesson, the students were using their iPads to completely redefine  what display work is. Firstly students were writing biographical details about selected authors (an important literacy skill), then using a green screen app (Do Ink Green screen) to record this biographical detail in front of key images relating to the author’s life and work.  These videos were than edited together in iMovie.  Students designed posters and used these as trigger images to create augmented reality displays using Aurasma.  The end result is displays that literally come to life with students talking eloquently about the subject matter when scanned with the iPads.

The lesson was a joy to be part of, even as an outsider, as students were independent, showing enjoyment for discovering things for themselves, problem solving, working well as teams, trying to be unique and owning their learning.  An excellent way of using creativity to engage students in writing, and an innovative way of using and displaying student work.