Creativity across Learning #1 – Introduction

Creativity in Education


A couple of weeks ago I attended another wonderful Creative Conversation organised by Linda Lees of  Edinburgh City Council. It was a session led by Paul Collard, CEO of the international foundation Creativity Culture and Education. The impact of CCE is really impressive and I really enjoyed the breadth and depth Paul brought to the conversation.

On the way back north I got thinking about creativity and was reminded of the summer of 2001 when I moved from being an education adviser with Dundee City Council to a newly created role as head of future learning and teaching at what was Learning and Teaching Scotland (subsequently merged into Education Scotland).

One my first jobs was to help pull together a publication around the theme of ‘Creativity in Education‘. I had always been sceptical about the term ‘creativity’ – it seemed to me to be a very poorly defined concept. I couldn’t understand why reproducing an opera exactly as it had been written 100 years could be called ‘creative’. In my experience the world of science and technology was just as creative as the so-called creative arts – brimming with the new, the beautiful, the innovative and the imaginative. Furthermore new industries such as computer games were breaking the false dichotomies between the disciplines. A great game depends just as much on wonderful graphic design and a compelling narrative as it does on the accuracy of the coding. Whilst the notion that some people are born creative and others not just struck me as profoundly anti-educational as well as largely counterfactual.  The LTS publication ‘Creativity in Education‘ set out to debunk some of these myths, reframed the concept and to my mind broke new ground in what has become a crucially important discourse.

Anyway 10 years later in 2011 I was once again asked to support some work on this theme. The Advisory Council of Learning and Teaching Scotland asked me help to update ‘Creativity in Education‘ in the context of the new Scottish Curriculum (aka Curriculum for Excellence). I was delighted to work once again with an inspirational group of people and the result was a draft publication entitled ‘Creativity across Learning‘. The document was lost in the merger of LTS with the Scottish schools inspectorate and unfortunately never saw the light of day. Over the next couple of weeks I want to reflect on the seven questions that ‘Creativity across Learning‘ raised:

  1. What do we mean by ‘creativity’?
  2. What does a ‘creative learning environment’ look and feel like?
  3. How do we respect and build on the ‘learner’s world?
  4. How can leaders go about transforming the culture so that everybody promotes creativity in learning?
  5. What needs to be done to promote creativity in professional learning?
  6. What kind of assessment and qualifications would best support creativity in learning?
  7. What kind of inspection, quality assurance and accountability regimes would best support creativity in learning?

I think these are still great questions and look forward to sharing some of the answers that were suggested in 2011.




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