Miranda Jefferson and Michael Anderson position creativity as one of four key skills for young people to succeed in education, along with critical reflection, communication and collaboration. Although written for the Australian education system where critical thinking and creativity are explicitly part of the curriculum, there is much for English educators to learn from this helpful book.
Creativity as a multi-faceted disposition
The authors draw on the work of US educators James Pellegrini and Margaret Hilton to create a Learning Disposition Wheel.
The wheel makes clear the three aspects of most learning:
- Intrapersonal (the management of emotions)
- Cognition (the development and exploration of ideas)
- Interpersonal (the social dimension)
Teachers will find it helpful to think about these three aspects of learning as they develop students’ creativity ensuring that students are given opportunities to develop their creativity in different ways.
A road map for creative schools
In a detailed chapter exploring creativity the authors suggest a three-stage approach to developing a road map for creativity in schools:
1. Undertaking a creativity audit
Use the following questions as prompts to help you assess how creativity currently functions in your school:
Are classrooms prioritising creativity and if not why not? Is there evidence of expertise in different kinds of creativity in the school? Is there evidence of integration between classroom learning and extra-curricular activities? Is student imagination encouraged and supported? Are there spaces in the school that nurture and support creativity?
2. Developing a creativity learning action plan
Depending on the results of the creativity audit, schools can then develop termly plans to make progress within each of the five audit areas.
3. Developing critically reflective research in creativity learning
The third stage is to reflect, research and communicate what worked, what didn’t and why.
The power of structures
The penultimate chapter of the book focuses on the challenges for school leaders wishing to embed creativity in their schools. Of special interest is a section on the ways in which structures can help or hinder the cultivation of creativity. Examples to consider include:
- The 50, 40 or 30 minute lesson
- The 9am – 3pm school day
- Arbitrary divisions between subjects and disciplines
- The physical layout of classrooms
- Standardised testing
- Age-based cohorts
This well-organised book offers teachers and school leaders plenty of food for thought alongside practical suggestions for action.
Takeaway idea: Undertake a creativity audit in your school.
Find out more about Transforming Schools here.
Miranda Jefferson is co-founder and innovative practice leader of 4C Organizations and 4C Transformative Learning. Michael Anderson is Professor of Education at the University of Sydney, Australia.