Since the 1950s it has been thought that apart from the 'assertive creativity' of prodigious talents such as Mozart, Picasso, Shakespeare and so forth - with their special gifts that we see in their respective creative oeuvres - there is in contrast a 'general creativity' which is a quality that we are all capable of nurturing and developing in ourselves.
General creativity is seen when a complex mix of attitudes, dispositions and abilities work together in a person. It can be seen in action in the range of skills and day to day problem solving that comprise our lives.
It is now seen that general creativity is that inexplicable part of ourselves which enables us to learn and, whilst it cannot be taught, it can and must be cultivated and encouraged.
The current notion of creativity in the context of learning leads us to a particular understanding of the very process of learning. This is based on the idea that language, thought and learning are inseparable and that learning takes place in a social context - we learn by talking and thinking together. It is creative, collaborative approaches that facilitate and support learning.
Home is the first school
"Home is the first school and parents are the first teachers."
This was said by someone very wise.
Teachers are being creative when they are using pedagogical approaches that involve both themselves and learners in looking at possibilities, looking for flexibility, taking risks and experimenting. Creativity is being employed when there are unusual and exciting learning opportunities which provide high quality stimuli combined with the structure to generate inquiring language and provide deep support for the learners’ thinking and efforts.
Learners are being creative when they are fully engaged in making meaning together through stimulating learning tasks of which they feel ownership, they will feel confident enough to make speculations and assertions, and feel empowered to articulate their learning to any of the other people round them.
Learners are thinking critically when they step back and reflect on what they have achieved in relation to a desired outcome; when they can discuss and evaluate these achievements either individually or collectively against appropriate criteria and be conscious of and be able to comment on the quality of the process of which they have been a part.
What links each of these ideas is the planned and deliberate use of language stemming from a clear understanding of its importance as an integral part of thinking and learning in a social context.
With the professionalisation of so many aspects of our lives we cannot turn round but there is an expert telling us how to do it. The result is that we can very often be made to feel deskilled and inexpert even at the things we can do.
We now see teachers who have been turned into technicians and very good at making highly pressured and minute assessments of a child's progress in this or that technical aspect of some programme of study. The demands of the National Curriculum and the unremitting scrutiny of Ofsted have combined to de-humanise schools and the critical work of teachers.
A child now is just a set of statistics, or so it would seem!
Education has been commoditised and schools placed in the position of competing for dwindling resources. The result is that schools appear now to be more intent pursuing what the pupils can do for the school than what the school can do for the pupils.