Imagine If...Teaching for Creativity

We spoke one of the students from Duchess Community High School about what it was like to take part in Imagine If...

The North East Creativity Collaborative Network (NECCN) is a professional learning community of 13 schools across the North East working in partnership with Creativity, Culture and Education to explore, test and embed a range of innovative practices in teaching for creativity.

NECCN joined forces with Imagine If... and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums to coordinate a hackathon* style event that took place in November 2023.

*Hackathon: is an event where people come together to explore and solve problems.

By connecting together a diverse range of educators, practitioners, stakeholders and organisations from the region, they wanted to generate ideas and develop solutions to two current educational challenges:

  • How do we sustain and continue to grow the collaborative?
  • How do we cultivate the conditions across the North East to support every school to value creative thinking and teach for creativity, drawing upon the experiences of the NECCN?
Photo credit: Colin Davison

As the NECCN head into year 3 pupil voice is an important thread in the work that they are doing around creativity and that is why they are developing pupil Creativity Champions of all ages across their school network so that young voices are heard and young people are given the opportunity to shape their own education.

Below you can read the views of one pupil from Duchess Community High School in Alnwick who attended the event as a creativity champion. Their role on the day was to get involved by listening, sharing ideas and asking questions.

"In order to get the most out of sixth-form education, I think it’s important for both teachers and students to get an idea of the other individual’s perspective. Connection, after all, is one of the most important tools to inspire the next generation, and attending the ‘Imagine If...’ event in Newcastle was what helped us, as students, to get that new perspective on our education. Our group was made up of a mixture of sixth-formers and lower years, and whilst the event was advertised for ‘Creative Champions’, we were a whole host of students from those that specialise in more stereotypical ‘art’ subjects to those that were more passionate about STEM and humanities."

"This point was also a main focus of this event: creativity is not just found in art subjects such as fine art and music, but also in methodical and academic subjects that do not strike you as innovative or subjective. The various talks and workshops urged teachers to think of how they can inspire a mindset in students, to look at issues from other angles and to always be searching to create new and efficient methods for problem solving."

"There is also something to be said about this creative thinking being implemented into STEM subjects in the 21st century. With the rise of automated information processing and the development of AI (a subject that was explored in a workshop), the need for basic memorisation and the reproduction of data in students dwindles as a valuable skill for the workplace. Instead, alongside this technology we have a need to develop the more in-demand skill: that is, the creativity and innovation that makes us uniquely human. The workshops especially were an interesting view on how teachers themselves are trained."

"The set-up was much like a school classroom, with teachers themselves leading workshops to share what they’ve learnt from their own jobs and allow other teachers to experiment with new education methods. One thing that struck me was to see teachers take the roles of students in these classrooms, and I believe this could be an important exercise going forward, to allow that aforementioned ‘new perspective’ to teachers, finding out what they experience as encouragement to think creatively and how this can be implemented in their own schools."

"One example was getting teachers to make a simple self portrait, then encouraging them to express their personality or something about themself in the background of the portrait, with examples of what students had done on display whilst they were doing this."

"Overall for myself, and from talking to the other students, the enthusiasm of the teachers to both listen to our perspectives on creative thinking in education and to even try it out themselves was a really enjoyable experience for us. It’s especially important that students can feel their voices are heard, when today much of the business and political world feels ostracised from us. I think this event really helped to bridge the gap, and to show how valuable the collaboration between students and teachers can be in the evolution of education in the UK."

If you want to know more about the event watch the official film >> Here.

You can follow the NECCN on X (formally known as Twitter) @NECCNetwork

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