It’s WORLD CREATIVITY WEEK! 8 articles to get you going…

World Creativity Week! And about time to.  You can never get enough of all things creative.   Because creativity‘s great isn’t it?  Like apple pie, Christmas and Easter bunnies all rolled into one?  Well, yes and no.  Not really.  ‘Creativity’ and our recent glamorisation of all things creative really needs a good shake up.

And here’s some places to start:

The concept of The Creative.  https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/are-you-a-creative-or-a-non-creative-for-everyone-in-world-creativity-week/

The benefits of Useless Creativity. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/5-tests-to-measure-u-creativity-useless-creativity-for-world-creativity-week/

The concept of M-Creativity. Creativity in all places at all times. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2012/04/16/introducing-a-new-form-of-creativity-m-creativity-especially-for-world-creativity-week/

The Creative School as Creative City. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/how-does-a-creative-school-become-a-creative-city/

The Perils of Schools becoming Creative Cities. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/here’s-how-a-creative-school-becomes-a-creative-city-2/

Unleashing the unwanted on the unexpecting. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/unleashing-the-unwanted-on-the-unexpecting/

Reasons to be uncreative. Part 3. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/poetry-on-the-hoof-best-excuses-dedicated-to-the-end-of-world-creativity-week/

How to get rid of it altogether. https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/2-easy-routes-to-killing-creativity/

So you wanna be a partner? Presentation to the Creative Connections in the Early Years Tasmania teams

Urban regeneration partnership initiatives – in which public, private and the voluntary sector collaborate in order to bring about the management of public services within neighbourhoods – have been a feature of the UK’s political landscape since the Thatcher government of the 1980s.

In 1999, the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (NACCCE) were commissioned jointly by the British government departments of culture (the DCMS) and education (the DfEE) to review  the place of the arts and creativity in the curriculum.

They went on to publish  All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education in 1999 which in turn led to the launch of the Creative Partnerships (CP) initiative: a programme of creativity and cultural education in 16 areas across England in 2001. Their aims were to provide school children with the opportunity to develop creativity in learning and to take part in cultural activities of the highest quality….  and provide ‘a powerful, focused, high profile and inspirational tool for change, genuinely capturing the imagination of children, parents and carers, teachers and communities.

Whilst CP came to an end earlier this year, its ethos of partnership working has been extended across many public sector organisations who have developed many different kinds of cultural initiatives from music education to cultural leadership to creative learning.  Increasingly, these public sector organisations have identified themselves not only as funders but as partners too.

The impact of new forms of cultural partnership on the Early Years settings

This presentation will critically review within an Early Years context what this new form of cultural partnership has entailed and how it is played out in the classroom, the school, between organsiations and at a macro, policy level too.  It ask questions such as:

• What is meant by partnership – by whom, when and in what context?
• How is partnership is manifested at operational and strategic levels?
• What might be principles of cultural partnership?
• How have these principles been implemented in the Early Years classroom?
• What factors prevent the development of a healthy cultural partnership?

Case studies involving the engagement of artists in early years contexts; cross-organisational planning and delivery; and how national policy impacts on practitioners at a local level will be discussed.

Learnings from on-line dating sites and lonely hearts club adverts will also be taken into account!

Download the presentation here:

http://db.tt/sFJrxJGC

Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning: how schools are ahead of the political game

After two years in the making, here it is. Finally.

Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning shows teachers of key stages 2 and 3 how to introduce creativity into what is often seen as a prescriptive and stifling curriculum, and addresses the tensions that can exist between the requirement to follow the curriculum and the desire to employ innovative pedagogies. It offers readers a range of practical and realistic ways that curriculum changing ideas can be applied to individual projects, classrooms and even entire schools.

This book tracks the imaginative initiatives undertaken by six schools as they have worked to change their curriculum and teaching in order to put student experiences at the core of the learning process. Stating its observations and suggestions in a refreshingly straightforward and practicable manner, this book explores:

  • Why a new creative curriculum is needed for the 21st century
  • How to encourage teachers and pupils to ‘own’ the curriculum
  • The role that pupil voice plays in a creative curriculum
  • The environment needed to creatively manipulate the curriculum
  • How to introduce innovation to teaching practice
  • What actually works – considering the limits and possibilities of creative pedagogy

Providing case studies and examples of the ways in which teachers have delivered the curriculum in a creative way, Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning is an invaluably beneficial guide for all those involved in engaging and teaching young people in key stages 2 and 3.

Fascinating stories of challenge, change and inspiration are found throughout the book.

In Chapter Two, Fulbridge Primary School in Peterborough has developed a local, vernacular curriculum which takes as its starting point local histories, geographies and resources as the means to galvanise children’s learning. This work is based heavily upon Kolb’s model of learning from experience and particularly demonstrates how different mediums, such as sculpture, film, animation and drama can be used to explore curriculum links with writing.

In Chapter Three, Dale Primary School in Derby have looked to early years practice of the town of Pistoia, Italy, as a means of providing immersive learning experiences which are engendered through their approach to ‘slow pedagogy’. Theirs is a stance on personalised learning which allows for engagement in a curriculum which is driven by constant formative reflection, a profound knowledge of children’s progression in skills and learning which is fired by children’s curiosity and questions.

In Chapter Four ‘real world’ learning is demonstrated by Old Park Primary School in Telford which particularly focuses on Learning to Learn (L2L) strategies and connects its work with that of Guy Claxton’s Building Learning Power programme as part of its bigger commitment to the Personalised Learning Agenda.

In Chapter Five, Belfairs Media Arts College, a secondary school in Southend demonstrates how focusing on children as independent thinkers and learners identifies a number of strategies which encourage young people to think about, and learn from, their own learning styles. In addition to the L2L programme, the school also focus on and embed a particular cluster of thinking skills across the school curriculum.

In Chapter Six, Kingstone School in Barnsley adopts a thematic approach to teaching to collaborate in order to develop cross curriculum projects that are taught to Year 7 students in a way that bridges the pedagogical gap that exists between the high schools and their feeder primary schools.

Available now from http://www.amazon.co.uk/Placing-Students-Creative-Learning-Teaching/dp/0415570018

Here’s how a creative school becomes a creative city (2)

Impresa and Coletta’s Tool-Kit for Cities suggests that cities:

* Deliver an ‘appealing reality’, because ‘young people are very savvy in assessing cities’;
* Put values on display, demonstrating how the city ‘welcomes newcomers and new ideas’;
* Keep in touch with former residents, and find ways to have them ‘return to your city’;
* Create opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people;
* Use internships to connect with young adults;
* Survey young adults regularly, including ‘exit interviews’;
* Celebrate young entrepreneurs and civic contributors;
* Communicate development plans to young adults;
* Promote your city: ‘place marketing works best when it is based on authentic stories that people are willing to tell about their cities’;
* Promote a young adult lifestyle, particularly ‘active nightlife’, and do not be fearful that this might ‘scare off the soccer moms’

Mapping out these criteria for creative cities against schools OfSTED reports offers some tentative support to the notion that schools, rather than places of teaching and learning actually are better described as creative cities.

According to OfSTED, Fichte Nursery School in Hull for example delivers an appealing reality as what pleases parents most about the school is that Children are expected to work hard as well as have fun in the nursery and this leads to good progress.. The teaching is good and staff have high expectations as to behaviour and the children’s response…

The school also can demonstrate that it puts its values on display, demonstrating how the city welcomes newcomers and new ideas as The nursery classes and corridors are full of attractive displays and a wide range of artifacts that children can see and handle at any time.

The school also demonstrably keeps in touch with former residents, and finds ways to have them return to the city through parents evenings, governors meetings as well as through the development of the Fichte Parents Writers Group (FPWG): a group of parents who, through a creative writing project researched the experiences of previous attendees of the school and encouraged them to share those experiences and stories through that project.

Furthermore, the school creates opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people through its involvement in several local and government initiatives such as Sure Start and the building of the new Children’s Centre which aims to support parents and their children in close partnership with the school. It uses internships to connect with young adults by playing host regularly to trainee student teachers and research students. It can also be seen to survey young adults regularly (through regular parental consultative processes) and celebrates its young entrepreneurs and civic contributor’s as: the children’s work is always celebrated by displaying it very effectively across the school.

According to these criteria then, Fichte Nursery School qualifies as a creative City. The implications for this shift are manifold. Membership of school communities becomes more explicitly transitional and relationships between members more based on qualities of corporate society than the kin relationships of community.

New definitions of community consequently emerge in which whilst there are new spaces for diversity and difference to be explored also lend themselves for surprising new conflicts to emerge.

Simple causal relationships between landusers in the city of Fichte Nursery School can not easily be demonstrated; they become spaces in which minor events have major, surprising and unexpected consequences and if Eve Miteldon Kelly is right: when one entity tries to improve its fitness or position, this may result in a worsening condition for others. Each ‘improvement’ in one entity therefore may impose associated ‘costs’ on other entities, either within the same system or on other related systems. Mitleton-Kelly (2003)

This has significant for the successful (or otherwise) implementation of school improvement agendas. Complexity theory would suggest that the emergence of winners brings about the emergence of losers. When schools are engaged in competitions for pupil numbers, for positions on a league table, for higher CVA ratings, it is not as if they are running on an Olympic race track with competing athletes to see who can run 100m the fastest: in the competition that Nursery School Cities are part of, the ‘front runners’ are partially responsible for determining the state of the race track of those lagging ‘behind’.

More on this at https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/how-does-a-creative-school-become-a-creative-city/

How does a creative school become a creative city?

Many cities around the world present themselves as undergoing programmes of regeneration by aiming to engage the efforts of the local ‘creative communities‘ for the benefits of the city and and presenting themselves as a site of creativity and hub of contemporary culture.

In The Rise of the Creative Class Richard Florida interprets these ‘creative communities’ as a creative class: latter day, Platonic philosopher rulers, requiring ‘less creative’ members of society who struggle to cite a single classical composer or who don’t know their Michael Jackson from their Jackson Pollock, to provide services and facilities which they – the creative classes – are either too busy, preoccupied or aloof to have to contend with themselves.

Ironically, the city’s desire to democratise creativity, to become an attractive place for ‘the creatives’ and to make creativity a gregarious cultural process tends to generate a hierarchical structure of city boundaried privileged locations of loft conversions and artistic architraves amongst the archetypes.

Jamie Peck’s analysis of Florida suggests that: Florida’s street level analog of such attempts to ‘harness’ creativity comes in the form of a celebration of the buzzing, trendy neighborhood, a place where everyday innovation occurs through spontaneous interaction… a place where outsiders can quickly become insiders’…

Schools who wish to develop creativity in the classroom perhaps begin to resemble creative cities as outsiders are encouraged to visit them with the enticements of earning potential or employment, becoming in the process a veritable market place for creative practitioners.

Peck continues to identify what is required of a city to make the transformation to a creative city by referring to the development of a Tool-kit for Cities by Cortwright, for the American management consultancy, Impresa and Coletta:

Impresa and Coletta’s Tool-Kit for Cities

* Deliver an ‘appealing reality’, because ‘young people are very savvy in assessing cities’;
* Put values on display, demonstrating how the city ‘welcomes newcomers and new ideas’;
* Keep in touch with former residents, and find ways to have them ‘return to your city’;
* Create opportunities for civic involvement, deliberately seeking out the opinions of young people;
* Use internships to connect with young adults;
* Survey young adults regularly, including ‘exit interviews’;
* Celebrate young entrepreneurs and civic contributors;
* Communicate development plans to young adults;
* Promote your city: ‘place marketing works best when it is based on authentic stories that people are willing to tell about their cities’;
* Promote a young adult lifestyle, particularly ‘active nightlife’, and do not be fearful that this might ‘scare off the soccer moms’

Mapping out these criteria for creative cities against schools OfSTED reports offers some tentative support to the notion that schools, rather than places of teaching and learning actually are better described as creative cities. The pedagogical implications of seeing a school as a city are immense and will be explored in later blogs.

Unleashing the Unwanted on the Unexpecting: teachers responses to creative moments

Picture a small Welsh Hotel in late February, fresh with glimmers of early spring sunshine reflecting optimistically off the grey Menai Straits. Thirty Primary Head Teachers, Education Action Zone Directors and LEA officers converge on the small town of Beaumaris for three days of discussing, planning, evaluating and reminding ourselves of the local nightlife. And Learning about Creativity. The sessions start promptly and we dutifully sit through workshops on the Extended School, School Leadership, Teaching and Learning, Special Educational Needs and a myriad of other agenda items which seem to flood into Head Teacher’s offices daily from on high. The tide of initiatives is unrelenting. Social Exclusion, Gifted and Talented, Learning Mentors, Accelerated Learning, E-credits, The Primary Strategy and now Creativity is on the agenda.

The message from up the food chain is that Creativity in the Classroom is now officially important. Word has passed down to all of us in the way that much communication is processed in education: people deliver monologues and soliloquies at each other. Government at the LEAs and Head Teachers, Head Teachers at teachers, and teachers at pupils. Monologues which like to think they’re dialogues, but in fact are rules and instructions dressed up as advice and ‘good practice’.

But first, before the creative potential of the Classroom can be released, it is our turn to participate in a Creative Workshop. We face the impending session with a mix of suspicion, interest and hangover. In some quarters there is a distinct unease about what is about to unfold. We are presented with a creative task. We have been told we are going to listen to some music and then, in response to this stimulus, we are to create a poem, make some music, prepare some movement and put the whole thing together into a presentation for the end of the afternoon. The music is Liadov’s Enchanted Island and Holst’s Mars from the Planet Suite, two too- obviously contrasting pieces of ‘classical’ canon fodder which instruct you to think ‘ooh, peaceful’ on the one hand or ‘cor, angry’ on the other.

We set out to magic up a piece of creativity in the wake of this piece of emotional and psychological manipulation, doing as we are asked in a well-behaved-group sort of way and having a lot of fun and discussion whilst preparing our various contributions. One of us opens up frankly about her unease about being asked to write a poem. Another, mightily irritated with how the original sources of music has been applied so didactically, writes a free-flowing rant in the Seething of Tunbridge Wells style of old which uses the f-word in a novel and liberating style.

https://drnicko.wordpress.com/2011/09/04/poetry-on-the-hoof-what-are-you-trying-to-sell/

This makes lots of us laugh heartily. We like to hear the f-word very much, so that the author is encouraged to repeat it in rehearsals as often as possible. Quite whether we would be happy to hear it in our classrooms is another matter entirely. Whilst we can be as creative as we like as responsible adults, allowing that old Anglo- Saxon English the free run of the modern classroom with a group of excitable and hormonally-drenched pubescents is quite another matter.

One of us notes that some kids in schools are like of bottles of Coke – you do not know if they have been shaken up before they come into the classroom or not, and if your efforts at unleashing their creativity are going to make them explode. That is one of the problems of creativity: how do you ever replace the top on the bottle once it has been opened?

Given that pupils’ experiences of schools these days is driven by the need to comply and meet targets… Given that it is about responding to and adapting to the hierarchy; listening (or pretending to listen) to the monologue being talked at you, about formulating your own version of that monologue and then delivering your take on it at someone else (a phenomenon also known as bullying)… Given all that, how is it possible – and is it even desirable – for creativity to flourish?

The tension generated when creativity is placed up alongside learning in schools is that the former is fundamentally about dialogue and collaboration. It is not about talking to yourself or foisting your own monologues on others. Whilst some Head Teachers stress that more enlightened teachers are teaching creatively by acknowledging their pupils’ differing learning styles and recognising multiple intelligences, the act of creativity itself is a process which demands a physical, psychological and metaphorical wrestling with demons, unpleasant and unwelcome impulses, significant others, parents, partners, neighbours, the hell of the past and visions and delusions of the future. It is, crucially, as much an act of destruction and chaos as it is about vision and creation – as much about killing your babies as it is about bringing them up.

Are we serious about enhancing creativity in our classrooms and our pupils’ learning experiences? If so, what is to be done in a climate which views creativity solely as a one-way ‘making’ process, is terrified of the correlatived yet essential ‘breaking’ process, and continues to rain down monologues day upon day?

The potential of potential

Creativity is often referred to as means of ‘unlocking potential’. There’s a sense that it’s something of the future, a store of source of energy in reserve. It’s a always a lot – we don’t refer to unlocking someone’s low level of potential – but we think too that once unlocked, it will have significant, positive consequences for the individual and wider society. It is by definition, unexpressed, a ‘good thing’ and unlockable.

Frustration with children may come from adults who sense a child has ‘potential’ which is not being made visible, or expressed despite their best efforts to release it. Teachers, parents and the wider family all stare at the unfortunate kid, frustrated in their attempts to ‘unlock her potential’.. If we only could unlock it, she would perform better and we’d all be happy.

On a larger scale, we’re faced with hoards of young people across the country whose potential is locked up – and so the argument goes, if we develop their creativity and enhance their cultural education then their potential will be unlocked released and possibly fulfilled. So, just what is this magical elixir, ‘potential?’

An acorn might have the potential to become an oak tree with the right conditions: but do we have our morphology lying in wait for us, planned out from the blueprint of the embryo? If so, this ‘potential’ is of quite a limited kind – the acorn has no potential for becoming an elm tree. So is potential a kind of destiny / fate – and if so, is the educators job to help us accept our fate? By providing the conditions for us to develop along a genetically preordained route? Or is there role for educators to identify and provide other routes for development? Despite providing the right conditions, the acorn may not grow – or it may start and stop at 60’ or 160’ – it’s still an oak tree – and where its stopped, has it reached its potential? And is that the time for us to walk away and leave it alone?

Is there something about the self here and how we use and view our bodies and minds? On the one hand our bodies and minds are being encouraged, our potentials exhorted and our feeble bodies being pushed to excel. Once we’re able to merge our flesh and bone with the silicon and software of computers we’ll really be able to live our potentials out and exert all our powers – and become like supermen to deal with the voracious capitalist economic appetite (Oh come on, Jones, do keep up can’t you!). In one sense the 100 Languages of Creativity are the means to becoming supermen and superwomen – enhanced versions of our feeble bodies and feeble minds (which are facets of a culture of feebleness).

Potential is also synonymous with ‘unique capacities ‘ and is also used to suggest internal reserves which are untapped / neglected – much like oil wells or gold mines. So tapping potential, in this sense, means exploiting the resources of human – cf exploiting the resources of the planet- and so here, the self has become the site for capitalist economic endeavour. Given that the education of the 19th century was useful for the industries of that time – now, in a new economic context, new skills and approaches are needed for the new industries – so instead of exploiting the planet since the onset of the industrial revolution, we’re now being urged to exploit the self for the purposes of economic deliverance of the 21st Century’s economic revolution.

So, in exhorting us to stop being feeble, and unleash our capacity to become superhuman, the calls for creativity aim to exploit the feeble self for its untapped power, energy and resources. Simultaneously despising the self, we secretly covet what it could yield up to us. We become both Jim Carrey and his observers in our very own Truman Show.

Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning

Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning shows teachers of key stages 2 and 3 how to introduce creativity into what is often seen as a prescriptive and stifling curriculum, and addresses the tensions that can exist between the requirement to follow the curriculum and the desire to employ innovative pedagogies. It offers readers a range of practical and realistic ways that curriculum changing ideas can be applied to individual projects, classrooms and even entire schools.

This book tracks the imaginative initiatives undertaken by six schools as they have worked to change their curriculum and teaching in order to put student experiences at the core of the learning process. Stating its observations and suggestions in a refreshingly straightforward and practicable manner, this book explores:

  • Why a new creative curriculum is needed for the 21st century
  • How to encourage teachers and pupils to ‘own’ the curriculum
  • The role that pupil voice plays in a creative curriculum
  • The environment needed to creatively manipulate the curriculum
  • How to introduce innovation to teaching practice
  • What actually works – considering the limits and possibilities of creative pedagogy

Providing case studies and examples of the ways in which teachers have delivered the curriculum in a creative way, Placing Students at the Heart of Creative Learning is an invaluably beneficial guide for all those involved in engaging and teaching young people in key stages 2 and 3.