Whatever happens to education policy over the coming months, there’s a feature of schools which will always need to prevail: creativity. The message needs to be clear – without creativity, education is lifeless. This issue we look at ways of ensuring that creativity remains a priority for professional learning in your schoolpdf-1363991

CPD Week Info sheet – Creativity blocks.pdf

‘Creativeness is the ability to see relationships where none exist.’
Thomas Disch

How many times do you hear people saying ‘I’m not creative’? Where does such a thought come from? While it’s shocking to hear a child say something like that, hearing adults express that view is bordering on the tragic!

There isn’t a single definition of what constitutes creativity but it’s most helpful to think of it as a process rather than an end in itself. As Sir Ken Robinson says: ‘Creativity isn’t a specific activity; it’s a quality of things we do.’ Just consider that for a moment… if creativity is a quality, we can help to make sure that every aspect of school life is imbued with it. Long gone are the days when only the arts were thought of as creative!

When it comes to professional learning, how can creativity be given a priority? These ideas may help:

  • Make an honest assessment of the extent to which creativity in professional learning is encouraged or stifled in your school. The headteacher’s attitude is everything!
  • How much space do you give the notion of reflection in professional learning programmes? Sometimes, slowing things right down to create time and space can generate more creativity than cramming every minute.
  • Where are the current opportunities for a creative approach to professional learning?
  • Are you linked up with other schools for the purpose of enhancing creativity?
  • To what extent do staff feel safe in pursuing their professional learning in a direction which suits their personal and professional needs?
  • How are the gifts of creativity used in your school? It’s worth thinking about both pupils and staff in this respect.
  • How innovative are staff? Is innovation encouraged or do unwritten rules stifle the will to find learning in new ways of doing things?
  • Would staff feel confident to teach creative thinking? If not, is there a case for organising whole-school professional learning and experience on this?
  • Trust is a prerequisite for a creative environment – how trustful is the atmosphere in your school?
  • If time to focus on creativity is an issue, consider playing with the school day – the neatest solution is a creative one!

If creativity means doing new things with old ideas (standing on the shoulders of giants and all that), taking a creative approach to professional learning, as well as helping to facilitate learning which will enhance creativity in your school, need not mean a completely clean sweep of all that has gone before. Sometimes, just a tweak here and there is enough to unleash the pent-up creativity that’s locked in your school… and who knows where that may lead!

Find out more…

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 2010

About the author: Elizabeth Holmes qualified as a teacher at the Institute of Education, London and is the author of several books specialising in the areas of professional development and teacher well-being.