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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Ken Robinson's creativity curriculum

Ken Robinson's creativity curriculum

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18 Replies 1048 Views

Ken Robinson is famous for a video that has attracted more than 10 million views. On this video (a TED presentation) Robinson attacks the factory-type school and argues that we should give less attention to academics, more to creativity.

First of all, we've already gone a long way in this direction.

Second of all, some very smart people say that you cannot teach creativity. (What you can do is give people a lot of skills and knowledge, which then serve as a foundation for creativity.)

Third, as a practical matter, there is only so much time in the day. If schools do what Robinson wants, they will devote less hours to the traditional curriculum. Question: is any student in America getting too much traditional education? That's highly unlikely.

Instead of increasing creativity (whatever that is exactly), what we really need is much more creative ways to teach the basic subjects. I'm all for that. But I'm very suspicious of diluting what we've already diluted far too much.

Here is a discussion of Robinson's ideas: "Kin Robinson and the Factory Method of Education."

http://www.examiner.com/article/ken-robinson-and-the-factory-method-of-e...

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Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.
Facilitator 2014

This is the issue. The way I see it anyhow. Of course we need a traditional education (I'm assuming you mean reading, writing, math). And we need creativity to apply what's learned in many ways (That's sir ken's point) You really can't have one without the other. I think.

My personal experience with schooling and creativity is that it (creativity) never really happened. Or, I guess I should say "The time to create was never there." Most teachers and educators will say that you need the basics before you can be creative. Kind of like saying, you need to know grammar and conventions in order to be creative. First you need to cover the boring stuff before the fun stuff. basically. I disagree with that. I learned to write in my room after school because all I did in school was diagram sentences and take spelling tests. Not until my senior year in high school when I took a creative writing class, I was allowed to be creative. And still then, my teacher scolded me for not using the correct word or missing a comma. That kind of criticism leads the creative soul back into his/her shell. "Man, I took a chance and all she said was you missed a comma."

Why can't we have both?

Well, we can. unfortunately, we don't. Teaching the concrete testable "things" is easier. It's visible.

Increasing creativity means...

I think you are correct in saying that creativity cannot be taught. But it can be allowed in a safe environment. If that environment is not provided then most students (like me) will have to be creative in their rooms without useful feedback, without help, without collaboration, without other people. And that is sad. Increasing creativity is increasing the time given to try it.

Providing the time becomes the struggle, of course.

Thanks for the post.

Gaetan Pappalardo's picture
Gaetan Pappalardo
Teacher, Author, Guitar––Word.
Facilitator 2014

How many teachers (including myself) start their careers with the thought of "I want to make learning fun and creative." And how long does it take for a teacher to do this? 1. 2. 3. years.

The time to explore and create is not in the curriculum. You would be hard pressed to find a teacher who doesn't want their students to explore and create and have fun, but it's not in the curriculum. Imagine if teachers were held accountable for allowing 30 minutes a day for creativity and fun and exploration?

Just thinking out loud.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

"Robinson attacks the factory-type school and argues that we should give less attention to academics, more to creativity...First of all, we've already gone a long way in this direction."

I don't agree with this. I've met far too many teachers who've felt trapped in a drill-n-kill curriculum. The teachers want to be creative, to fully engage their students, but the pressure from high stakes testing often means that their hands are tied by a system intent on one outcome and one outcome only--doing well on the test.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Another thought: In Robinson's video, he says that people are born with the capacity for creativity in the form of divergent thinking. His emphasis is on making sure the education system doesn't kill that capacity (and therefore the potential for creativity) within students.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Quoting Gaetan: "You would be hard pressed to find a teacher who doesn't want their students to explore and create and have fun, but it's not in the curriculum. Imagine if teachers were held accountable for allowing 30 minutes a day for creativity and fun and exploration?"

I'd go even farther. Imagine what it would be like to give teachers the equivalent of Google's 20% time; a good chunk of their day devoted to teaching what they want to teach, to exploring with their students what they want to be taught and how, to building in time for innovation.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia
Facilitator 2014

Great discussion. Interestingly, Samer, I heard that recently Google has removed the 20% time from their workforce. What does that mean for education?

For my part, this kind of discussion often misses a really important point. There's no point talking about changes in the classroom unless we talk about larger, structural changes at the level of systems. In Australia, where I am based, assessment is still very much a traditional model - there is very little in the way that allows for creative responses or demonstrating understanding. Instead, like Gaetan says, it's easier - and therefore done more often - to check on basic understanding. Until that changes, I can't see a way to encourage creativity.

Samer Rabadi's picture
Samer Rabadi
Community Manager at Edutopia
Staff

Ryan Tate just wrote an interesting article for Wired about why the idea of 20% time won't die:

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/08/20-percent-time-will-never-die/

Here's a relevant quote: "The core idea behind 20 percent time -- that knowledge workers are most valuable when granted protected space in which to tinker -- is more alive in Silicon Valley today than it ever has been before, reports of Google killing its program notwithstanding."

Which gets to what you're saying, Keith. There's a connection between the cultural (you could also say structural) recognition of 20% time's value and its survival. Which is stating the obvious, but at least the Silicon Valley example shows us that it can be done.

The question then is whether its possible to evolve towards a public policy that affords teachers the same trust and freedom to innovate.

After all, aren't teachers the ultimate knowledge workers?

Maybe I'm wrong in assuming that teacher creativity will necessarily lead to student creativity, but I think the odds are probably a lot higher that it will.

jacqueline boutte's picture

If it would'nt be for our teachers, our students would not have no guidence.The teachers provide structure with in the classroom and once the children have learned structure,then and only then success would follow. I think it possible,because if teachers are comforable with in there surrounding there perfomance is greater,they have not that one question that lyes in the back of there mines. That makes them more eager to teach.

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