Teaching secondary geography
Teaching secondary geography

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3.2 Creativity in practice

You will now consider creativity in practice and think about how it can be used to structure your teaching to engage children in the process of being creative and to support their creative development.

Keep at the forefront of your mind the ways in which ‘creativity’ (Table 1 in Activity 7) can interact with education in the classroom:

  • behaving creatively
  • teaching to support creative development
  • using your own creativity to develop lessons
  • learning to be creative
  • learning in creative ways.

Remember creativity is a process and a way of thinking rather than an activity or an event. Models of creativity summarised by Philpott (2007, p. 123) suggest that the creative process involves four stages (though these are not necessarily linear).

  1. Having an intention (an idea of what the outcome might be): exploring the problem or playing with ideas.
  2. Getting inside the problem : thinking around, and outside the ideas, identifying and playing with the concepts and materials that form the substance of the problem.
  3. Mastering the materials and the skills of the creative process and identifying the parameters and constraints within which creative thinking needs to take place.
  4. Gathering the problem into a satisfying whole : outcome or understanding of the problem and its ‘solution’.

Teaching creatively is not easy; it requires you to think, plan and prepare. You have to be prepared to take risks in your teaching, for example by giving greater autonomy to students or working in ways unfamiliar to them.

You have to create an environment in which students feel able to take risks, and risk failure. However, the benefits are that teaching creatively will not only motivate students but also encourage their own creativity and keep you stimulated as a teacher. Creative teaching strategies can also help to promote positive student behaviour through increased motivation and by involving students in the activity.

When considering the use of creative strategies in your teaching you will need to pay particular attention to:

  • the level of structured versus independent learning activities
  • the environment (do you need to change the layout of the classroom or move outside the classroom environment?)
  • how to use resources creatively
  • how to support the students
  • how to manage timings
  • how you will ensure that the overall aims of the learning sequence are achieved.

Remember, even ‘creative’ approaches can become stale if used repetitively, and you will still need to adopt a variety of approaches appropriate to the students, topic and context, giving due consideration to any organisational/management issues.

Activity 8 Dos and don’ts of creativity

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes

Part 1

As you watch The secondary a to z of … creativity [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , make a list of suggestions for promoting creativity (including things to avoid). Are there any tips you plan to adopt or any ‘creativity killers’ that you feel you need to address?

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Part 2

Stopsley School in Luton included a unit of work called ‘School of the Air’, which focused on the Australian outback in their year 7 curriculum. It is described and evaluated on the Geographical Association website.

Watch the School of the Air – Introduction PowerPoint presentation (the link is towards the bottom of the page). Then scroll down this page (Australian Outback - Students' Work) and click on the link to watch the PowerPoint on ‘Student Tasks’.

  • How does this approach relate to the ideas about creativity discussed thus far?
  • Could it be more creative?
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Compared with most units of work, this is very creative. Lessons have been creatively planned, the teaching supports creative development and the students learn in creative ways. It also encourages students to get inside the problem, master the materials and to gather the problem into a satisfying whole (Philpott, 2007). However, while it allows students to choose a way to present their findings, the questions and the initial intention are still those of staff.

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