The powerful impact of creativity in the classroom

Creativity Exchange catches up with researchers Teresa Cremin and Kerry Chappell

What do we know about creative pedagogies and what evidence is there of their impact on students?

These were the two questions that researchers Teresa Cremin and Kerry Chappell set out to answer in their recent research - Creative Pedagogies: a systematic review.

The researchers identified seven different kinds of pedagogies which focus on teaching for creativity.

  1. Generating and exploring ideas. A focus on the generation and exploration of ideas is a key characteristic. This can be encouraged by creating a climate of openness with teachers accepting young people’s ideas and giving them opportunities to explore ideas in a stimulating environment.
  2. Encouraging autonomy and agency. Teaching that appeals to students’ interests and offers them opportunities to initiate activities is important.
  3. Playfulness. Purposeful play would seem to be a key element of creativity.
  4. Problem-solving. Creativity involves coming up with novel or different ideas and a good way of engaging students is the use of real-world problems.
  5. Risk-taking. Learning by making mistakes and taking risks is central to the creative process. Such experimentation helps to build resilience.
  6. Co-constructing and collaborating. Being creative typically involves working with others, students and students and students with teachers.
  7. Teacher creativity. Teachers are powerful role models; when they demonstrate their own interests in creative processes this can be helpful.

Creative pedagogies in the classroom

We asked Teresa Cremin and Kerry Chappell to explain how their theory works in practice:

  • Despite the challenges of working in a prescribed and assessment driven culture, the seven core characteristics of creative practice are possible to integrate into classroom practice from the early years right through to the end of formal schooling.
  • The ways teachers choose to develop these will depend upon the age phase they teach, the subject focus and their current practice and assurance as creative practitioners.
  • Over time, if a higher profile is given to creative pedagogies and school communities can support each other to nurture them, this is likely to result in the subtle re-shaping of the curriculum, which will become more- co-owned, shaped and co-constructed by the learners and their creative teachers.

Generating and exploring ideas

The characteristic most frequently evidenced in the review was generating and exploring ideas. Perhaps this is not surprising as making and investigating ideas is often associated with an ethos of openness in which strong teacher-student relationships exist alongside a balance of freedom and structure. Teachers can seek to build such relationships through engaging authentically in the classroom as learners, offering their own personal take on the subject matter and being open about their hesitancies, misunderstandings and mistakes.

Co-constructing and collaborating

The second most frequent characteristic of creative pedagogies was co-constructing and collaborating. Teachers can begin to shift from setting and assessing predominantly individual work to offering increased opportunities for group work and creative collaboration. They can also afford more time and space for learners to engage playfully with one another and the available resources such that they can come to solve problems and generate their own. This will enable the young people to develop their agency and autonomy as they shape new and possible solutions and may be linked to real world concerns. Teachers who set such open-ended tasks to groups and offer strong support in secure environments of respect and inclusion, will be enabling students to experiment, explore and take risks, another characteristic of creative pedagogies.

Valuing a creative teaching practice

Creative teachers not only recognise, value and exercise their own creativity, but also seek to promote creativity in others, including their peers. They draw on their own passions and creativity as they develop their practice, pioneering new ways forwards in lessons, investing time in discussion with other teachers and sharing their pleasure in creative processes with the young people. The interplay between teachers and children participating in playful learning contexts and exploring possibilities together has considerable potential.

It is clear these characteristics do not operate in isolation, they interact with and on each other and are perhaps best planned for in a coherent manner, such that the children’s autonomy is fostered through a playful, collaborative, open and creative approach to teaching and learning.

Teresa Cremin and Kerry Chappell suggest that more research is needed into just how these pedagogies impact on pupils, something which the new Creativity Collaboratives will hope to provide. Meanwhile you can start your own exploration by trying this idea.

Teresa Cremin is Professor of Education at The Open University.

Kerry Chappell is Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Exeter.

The paper is available to request for free here:

Takeaway idea

Choose one of the seven pedagogies you are familiar with.

Brainstorm all of the techniques you could use to make yourself even more effective as a teacher when using this pedagogy. Then share your suggestions with another colleague.

    • Source
    • Bill Lucas

    • Interest
    • Research into Practice

    • Pedagogy

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