It is difficult to believe that Ken Robinson’s seminal speech on schools and creativity was first uploaded to the Ted Talks website five years ago. If you don’t know about this incredible and insightful video, check it out below or go to http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html
In this speech, Ken makes the bold statement that schools kill creativity. He argues that the culture of education stigmatises mistakes, and makes students afraid to ever get anything ‘wrong’ –limiting the chances students are willing to take in their learning, thus limiting creativity.
He names the ‘hierarchy’ that exists within curriculums, as another limiter of creativity. In his words:
‘At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth. And in pretty much every system too, there’s a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not?’
His statements ring true – and in a time pressured school day, with many competing demands, it may be that creativity does take a back seat some of the time.
Fortunately, creativity is not a ‘subject’ that must be added to an already crowded curriculum. What many educators already know is how to nurture students’ creativity through quality pedagogy and effective resourcing. Today, there are also many digital tools that assist teachers in doing this, and this blog post will outline some of them, so that teachers may feel more confident in using these tools to resource the quality teaching and learning already occurring within their classrooms.
Robinson defines creativity as ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’ (2006). The tools below are just a small selection of those available to develop this skill, while achieving other curriculum requirements at the same time.
Refine and encourage creative thinking using…
Questionaut is a magical game for students aged ten and up. It has no instructions. All the player knows is that the main character has lost their hat, and you need to help find it. Clicking around the screen opens up problems that the player needs to solve before they are able to progress. Some problems are English based, others are Maths or Science based. This game has challenged a lot of adults, and the key is creative thinking and being willing to take a chance on a hunch.
Invention at Play
Created by the Smithsonian Institute, this site offers games, stories and articles about inventions, inventors and the invention process. It links play with idea creation, and has activities and games to stimulate creativity and inventiveness. One for all ages. Download the Teachers’ Manual here:
Critical Thinking Puzzles
At regular intervals, new puzzles are added to this blog. The puzzles stimulate critical and inventive thinking, and the answers are shared via the comments feature. There are lots of past riddles and problems to solve as well.
From the site: ‘Edheads will create unique, educational Web experiences designed to make hard-to-teach concepts understandable using the power and interactivity of the Internet.’
Edheads provides exciting challenges and problems, most with a real life or near real life context. It has accompanying lesson plans, and is completely free. They are designed for a variety of age groups.
This clever tool allows users to collaborate to solve a problem. Each problem has its own unique URL, so only those who know the URL will be able to add their thoughts. It is free, and requires no registration. Users can vote on the solution that they like the best, or add their own ideas. Check it out next time you have a puzzle in the classroom that needs a democratic solution!
Scratch provides a simple programming language that students from Upper Primary to adults can use to create interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art. It is quite intuitive, and is free to download.
If you are interested in this area, and want to learn more, check out: