‘Creating’ a revolution (week 3)

In Uncategorized on February 14, 2011 at 7:27 PM

Jesse recently posted some videos of Ken Robinson. A man who is adamant that for education to progress, we need to change the stigma of education from an industrialized system to one which promotes creativity (instead of stifling it).

After watching Kens speeches I had one question: How Ken? How can we do this!?

I began at the Sir Ken Robinson website and was disappointed at the lack of research placed behind the concepts he promotes. That being said, there are a few interesting video blogs on hot topics in education such as home schooling…

So undeterred, my search continued and I happened to come across a report released in 1999 by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education, of which Ken Robinson was chairman (NACCCE). Now this report was designed for the goverment use and is a whopping 243 pages long! I would not recommend you read it all. Fortunately for you the report is summarised over 12 pages (pg 6-17). I feel that this is a good starting point to understand the arguement for creatvity in the classroom along with the obsticles that need to be overcome to do so.

From the NACCCE article, I felt that I had enough background knowledge on the situation and how the goverement seemed to be promoting creativity (while really not changing anything!), leading me to search for techiques that promote creativity in the classroom

The first book I came across was Creativity in education, a book Ken Robinson worte the preface for. Page 7/8 Begins to argue that teaching is an art, not a technical exercise. Now I may have misinterpreted this, but to me it seemed like the book was heading in the direction of a non-scientific way of teaching, and seemed confused to what technques to implement. Being of the opinion that creativity could be fostered in the classroom using scientific techiques/a systematic approach I kept searching for validated techniques.

Creativity in Education & Learning: This book provied many examples/references to materials used to promote creativity and below I have briefly outlined two:

Creative problem solving process: developed by Osbourne & Parnes. The steps guide the creative process. They tell you what to do at each immediate step in order to eventually produce one or more creative, workable solutions:

  1. Mess-finding (Objective Finding)- identify goal, wish or challenge
  2. Fact-finding- gather data
  3. Problem-Finding- clarify the problem
  4. Idea-finding- generate ideas
  5. Solution finding (Idea evaluation)- Select & Strengthen solutions
  6. Acceptance-finding (Idea implementation)- Plan for action

A commercial/semi scientific program outlined was deBonos CoRT Thinking program. It is a universal thinking program (so is not specific to creative thought process) and it is aimed at helping children construct their thinking and has been used in the primary school setting in selected schools in the UK for many years.

Now I had found materials used to help promote creative thinking, I researched to see if there are any scales to assess creativity…

Treffingers’ website provides many examples of measuring creativity, and assessments for over 70 such scales are provided on the website. Now I have not read the whole list but it shows that the materials are out there and are available.

In summary – reputable materials & measures are not the issue and promoting creativity in the classroom seems an achieveable goal as we have both the tools to teach and assess creative thought. I went down the route of searching for research and evidence of successful materials as I feel for creativity to be promoted in the classroom, explicit programs need to be implemented alongside the curriculum. I understand that the programs mentioned alone will not solve the creativity problem outlined by Sir Ken Robinson, but provides tangible materials to back a change in educational viewpoint.

Any Thoughts?

  1. The follow up to these publications in 2003 was “Excellence and Enjoyment” (DfES, 2003):


    This was a big deal: The National Literacy and Numeracy strategies had been implemented in school on a national scale and led to the perception that the government was pushing for basic standards (to drive up SATs scores) and that foundation (including creative) subjects were less important. The Excellent & Enjoyment publication was meant to redress this balance.

    Again, it came as an important policy change by government for primary teachers, however, was widely criticised for being hypocritical and making unsubstantiated claims and endorsing unsupported directives (Alexander, 2004):


    Since then, “Every Child Matters” became the buzz term in politics and education.

    Since May 2010, this has all changed, with the new ‘Department of Education’ with Michael Gove endorsing back to basics: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12243944
    Gove is endorsing stripping the curriculum to facts and knowledge, which I suspect, leaves little room for creativity.

  2. In his speeches Ken Robinson says that he thinks the emphasis should be mainly on creativity, or at least implies this. Do you think that it is more worthwhile to just have a better balance between science and creative subjects and if a child is particularly interested in one, to go to a school specifically for this purpose as the lady who coreographs Cats did on her teachers recommendation?

    • Specialisation of schools is nothing new. Technical colleges, arts academies, language collegss, etc. were a popular idea in the 70s in the UK (I believe).

      I would question the rationale behind specialising children too early; do 5-, 15-, or even 25-year olds really know what one area interests them? The British education system is unlike most in Europe in that it specialises early and keeps becoming more and more specialised as you get older (look at the difference between choosing only a few A-levels and the breadth of the International Baccalaureate).

      I feel that a broad curriculum has given me a good foundation.

  3. I agree that within the British education system, the age at which children begin to specialise in a given subject and narrow their choices for a prospective career is far too early. Whilst it is restricting, I do not believe it is entirely deterministic however, the probability of it being so is likely quite high.

    In addition I believe that breadth is vital towards a more holistic, integrated development and fulfilling adulthood, where an individuals occupation does not solely reflect the qualities of who they are but represents a part of their overall purpose and personality.

    Although the scope of learning is important, there would evidently have to be a trade off between depth and breadth. As many have noted teachers are presently confronted with quite a challenge with regards to delivering the current curriculum, thus do you think it would feasible to continue the depth of coverage displayed in the British education system in concert with greater breadth with the resources currently available?

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