Thursday, 26 September 2013

Tussling with ideas in front of students

Recently I came across Erin Quinn's blog post about the Creativity Assessment Wheel, and it lead to a really interesting discussions between several members of our arts faculty about whether creativity can be taught or not. The crux of the issue came down to whether analysis of art works is a skills that can be developed by providing/co-constructing with students clear criteria about what is a "successful" image/musical work/performance etc., of if this is an inherent ability that some people have and others lack. We tossed this idea backwards and forwards, primarily based on a Lorde's track Royals (it's not strictly conventional so if you were teaching a student what made a 'good' track you might recommend that it didn't meet the 'standard' criteria for composition, but clearly it's worked anyway!), and a Visual Art folio example.

The more significant outcome of this discussion though, was a conversation I had with students afterwards. While we were talking about the Creativity Assessment Wheel four students were in the classroom working away on their folios for external assessment. When the other two staff members left, one of the students said to me "That was pretty intense! Is that the kind of discussion you and Mr often have?" (I'd mentioned to them previously that I really enjoyed the discussions about approaches to learning that Jesse Te Weehi and I have from time to time), and we got to talking about what the students thought about the Wheel.

This all got me wondering about how often as teachers do we model for our students the process of intellectual engagement with an idea. I think our current school structure doesn't provide a lot of room for this, and it's pretty easy for us to come across as if we have firmly established ideas about how to 'deliver' education. That probably doesn't help so much if we're trying to develop our students as lifelong learners, and people who tussle with ideas.

What do you think?


  1. I totally agree. It is so liberating to say to kids, "I have no idea how long this will take or what the result will be," when kids engage in creative work. Puzzling through teaching with kids is really important in teaching them about trial, error, and failure.

    Thanks for posting about my assessment wheel. I hope you can get some use out of it. Have you checked out the other website I co-edit?

  2. Erin,

    The Creativity Assessment Wheel has been a really helpful catalyst for thinking. Thanks.

    I was a little skeptical when I saw that you were proposing a 'recipe' for creativity on the Creativity Collective site (I'm not sure that creativity is quite as easy to "produce" as a cake), but was reassured to read on and see that what you're proposing is that as educators we can help set in place conditions that will help students develop creativity. My experience over the last few years with Passionfruit Magazine strongly supports the need for a safe culture to facilitate creativity taking place.


  3. Great post! Thanks you so much for the share. It is indeed a helpful one. I am looking forward of reading more article with the similar topic as this one. Good luck and More Power.

    London Curriculum School