Academically in the secondary school, teachers have been encouraged to reflect upon the reports and trackers that were issued before Christmas in conversations with the students. One of the key aims of High Performance Learning is to make our students creative, yet our tracker reports cannot actively tell you how creative your children are. This blog tackles why that is, as well as giving you a few insights into how creativity is fostered at BISS Puxi.
We have just this week added some new creative opportunities for learning in the school, as our Year 9 students are the first to be bringing in their tablets. As schools and opportunities to be creative develop it is an old debate in education as to how we can teach creativity and can we measure creative progress?
We are currently reviewing our curriculum in Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) and as you would expect we can afford to be selective in giving our students a premium medley of the best of British education that allows us to choose the best bits of the designed national curriculum but with the freedom to tailor what we teach to our international setting and to our unique High Performance Learning aims.
We can make it clear that we want our students to be challenged, to have advanced performance characteristics such as linking, analytical skills, thinking skills and practicing for improvement, but the most difficult of our High Performance values to measure consistently is creativity. People value creativity in children and adults so it is not the idea of being creative that is problematic but what a teacher can do to stimulate a child to be creative. We can put into our curriculum traditional ways for a child to be creative but does that in itself limit the very nature of what being creative is. The problem lies for the teacher in identifying the essence of what creativity is: is it an aptitude towards something or is it a skill to be developed? Educators, professional researchers and academics cannot agree or define what creativity is and that makes it very difficult to measure whether an individual possesses it, is any good at it or can improve upon it. That is why there is no formal reporting index for a child’s creativity.
The simple answer to this conundrum of how to measure creativity is to not worry about identifying creativity in a measurable way, by attempting creativity tests similar to IQ or other cognitive testing, that results in data analysis and gives us an idea about progression. We cannot effectively measure where your child is on a creative index but in reality we can give our students a wide number of opportunities to understand that creativity can be anywhere in their life.
A mathematician can be just as creative as an artist in formulating an answer to a question or displaying imagination and understanding of the world around them. A large proportion of our curriculum in Primary and Secondary has creative subjects embedded in its core, with music, drama, art and English as well as relatively new subjects such as computing science giving us greater opportunity to nurture creativity in modern, hugely creative ways in gaming, app and general Computer Aided Design (CAD) modules. Take a look at some of the output on our new 3D printer this week to see how young minds ca be inspired with opportunities they were never given before.
As teachers we encourage creativity as a normal part of being in a high performing environment, we encourage our children to take intellectual risks, to not fear failure and to look for unusual solutions to difficult questions. We congratulate them on the process of innovation even when it is not ultimately successful, so that individuals and peers can see that it is worth looking for solutions that go beyond the norm. In reality the balance has to be struck between thinking outside of the box as well as knowing the processes of how to think inside the box to get to certain answers and develop certain skills.
So next time you see the word ‘creative’ connected to education or to any area of life, remember that creativity is an entity that is hard to quantify in an individual, the very nature of being creative means it can come at any age or in area of life. It could be a one off piece of inspiration or an innate skill of an artist or scientist. As educators we are simply trying to encourage our students to value alternative solutions or unlock an innate potential. Giving BISS Puxi students exposure to creative success that ranges from the academic to the sporting to the cultural and artistic experiences, is vital to giving them the confidence to creatively assess and face the future. You may not be able to see creativity measured on a report but you can certainly see it being encouraged and fostered across the school.
- Chris Share, Head of Secondary