Creating a Foundation for Learning: Art, Innovation and Technology

Part One 😉
Education has a fair share of buzz-words, and recently it seems that ‘creativity’ has become one of them.

In part, the current dialogue about creativity is fuelled by a plethora of studies and surveys highlighting the importance of creativity for innovation and economic growth, both globally and closer to home.

It is important to note that an education focused on our children’s future alone can result in missed opportunities for learning that allow our them to be mindful and fully present in the now.

Education is a social process; education is growth; education is not preparation for life but is life itself.” John Dewey

The good news is that meeting the needs of learners where they are at, and preparing them for success in a rapidly changing world, are not mutually exclusive propositions.

In fact, as teachers if our goal is to inspire and support the development of future artists, scientists and entrepreneurs we need to nurture the creativity within students of all ages because this provides the foundation for the disciplines of technology, science, art, etc.

In doing so, we also teach our children to be productive, happy human beings, able to exercise control over a life living out their creative potential through the process of discovery.

The challenge for educators lies not in producing creative kids, but in protecting, nurturing and nourishing this very natural attribute.

Students who are encouraged to think and act creatively are often more open to new ideas, more willing to accept challenges and more readily embark on a process of ‘finding out for themselves’.  There are also links to collaboration and problem solving skills, as well as increased ownership over their own learning. In the bigger picture, creativity is related to resilience and survival.

For educators, it should go without saying that all children are inherently creative. A particular pressure point in creative confidence emerges for many at around 8-10 years, as a fear of failure, often the result of the increased importance placed on the opinions of others, kicks in. In general, therefore, the challenge for educators lies not in producing creative kids, but in protecting, nurturing and nourishing this very natural attribute.

There are many practical approaches that can assist in support of this goal, including:

  • Asking open-ended questions such as ‘How could you…’, ‘What if…’, and ‘What might come next?’
  • Constructing feedback and assessment practices that reflect and reward creative approaches.
  • Incorporating opportunities for experimentation and hands-on exploration of materials during problem solving.
  • Valuing and facilitating collaboration.
  • Creating an environment where challenges can be openly discussed and failure is positioned as a step towards learning and success.
  • Engaging with explicit strategies that make the creative process visible, develop an ability and confidence to engage with the creative process.

These ideas are certainly not situated in any subject-specific pedagogical approaches and represent elements of best practice across year levels and diverse contexts.  However, concerns that current educational models do not adequately address both individual and societal needs for innovation and creativity, can also be considered alongside research that reveals a decline in schools offering arts programs.

The arts present opportunities for students to explore different ways of constructing knowledge, celebrate multiple perspectives, rely on the imagination, leverage divergent thinking, harness interpretive abilities, etc.  These characteristics are fundamental to innovative capacity.

Disclaimer: Ideas and opinions in the blog posts are the work of the author and do not necessarily reflect the ideas or beliefs of 21CLI.

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