Creativity in the Classroom
This week, Sally Tidbury explores ways of finding creative opportunities to enhance learning even in subjects not typically thought of as 'creative'.
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn”
I often hear that it must be nice to teach a “creative” subject. However, in my experience all subjects have an element of creativity, depending on what your definition of creativity is.
Although music may be creative in an obvious way, we still have to teach theory and content for an exam. In this blog, I wanted to explore how a creative classroom can support the learning of our students.
“In every aspect of life we are biologically determined to try to understand our world and, more importantly we respond creatively to life’s challenges.” Shirly
Keith Swanwick, professor of music education, explores the concept of the verb “Musicing”; the idea of actively being musical, whether this is the obvious way of performing or composing, but also responding, listening and discussing music. In essence, to be involved in music.
Now, how can this idea be transferred in to teaching and learning? Are your students “Englishing” or “Sciencing”?! How can you truly involve your students in your subject to achieve engagement and a passion for learning?
The first, and maybe most important thing, is to remember why you are teaching that subject in the first place! I am pretty sure we all teach our subjects as we want to inspire and enthuse students as we once were. Help the students relate to what they are learning. Tell them why you enjoy that book, or explain a bigger picture as to what a particular equation can achieve. Why are the students learning it? Is it just because it is in the spec for that exam? What can it lead to? Make it purposeful. Think about who was your most inspiring teacher…how did they inspire you?
Create an environment. Time is the biggest restraint in secondary teaching, but if you can find that time in an INSET or department meeting to update your displays it makes a difference to students, particularly those who may seem to have drifted into a world of their own. They may possibly see that display of density and remember the formula to work it out!
Can you teach theory in a practical way? It may not be appropriate all the time, and, as we know, time is not always a friend, but if there is a “creative” way of teaching a concept/skill/technique, you may find the students retain it better. They may not need to do a science experiment in their exam, but if they have done the experiment they may remember it. Could you re-enact a scene in a moment of history? Turn a story in to a film? Compose a song to remember the muscle names in P.E? There are many possibilities.
Even if it is not a physically creative activity, consider how you can approach a task, how can you encourage them to think creatively? Questioning is the best tool for a teacher here to really get them exploring an idea or topic. Could you compare/relate your discussions to things outside of your subject to spark their curiosity? Give time for students to discuss together and explore an idea; the skill of evaluating their work is a creative process as it is allowing them to re work an idea.
Be brave, try something new in your lesson, perhaps include more group work, or use art in your R.P lesson, or music in your history lesson. Turn that text/poem into theatre, or make up a song in Maths!
Creativity, as mentioned above, is not restricted to “creative subjects”; be inspiring, promote interest and curiosity.
Below are just a few websites with some ideas of how you can create a creative classroom: