Maybe you remember when, a couple of years ago, we celebrated the European Year of Creativity. It was great: artists, teachers, experts, politicians, they all talked and talked about creativity, and we had the opportunity to attend some awsome conferences where famous people told us how important it was to keep a fertile climate in our classrooms. We had to encourage our pupils to think out of the box, to dare, to accept challenges, to be innovators. We were encouraged to be innovators ourselves. Fantastic.
But all of a sudden, 2009 was over and there we were, in the same classrooms with the same problems and the same (strict) guidelines. "Creativity" seemed to be outdated by the very 1st of January, 2010. At least, nobody was talking about it any more. Ministries of Education had other, more important, things to take into consideration. Or maybe they thought one year of creativity was enough.
Now, be creative if you can - but don't forget at the end of the year your students will have their traditional (in most cases, 19th century-style) examinations, or PISA literacy tests, or Invalsi, or whatever sort of tests they have in the different countries. And remember, if they do not perform well filling in the blanks, you are not a good teacher.
Not so encouraging, what do you think? Talking about creativity for just one year was fine and easy. But then most of the "important people", those who can decide for the direction of the educative system in a country, appearently forgot it. Because creativity is no easy topic at all. It's difficult to encourage, difficult to promote, difficult to assess.
So, it's up to the teachers now: if we believe creativity is a value, we have to support it in our pupils. And once you start, everything goes on its own. Students can shock you with their creativity. They just need some help in finding out how to be creative again.
And teachers too. We need some help, definitely.
That's why I attended the eTwinning Learning Event "eTwinning and the creative classroom", run by Ioanna V. Komninou with a team of great Moderators (Mary Frentzou, Kostas Αntoniou and Xanthie Chouliara). I was curious, but I didn't have any particular expectations. Well, it turned out to be the best Learning Event I attended in my eTwinning life (and believe me, I attended many!).
The course was just great, we worked in groups, there was a lot of cooperation, a lot of interactions, and I thought all the time "Wow, I'm so lucky, I'm in a fantastic group, I met all of these amazing people, and our working together is a blast!" And that's exactly what happened: we worked together moving so fast, and with limitless ideas, one just came up with an idea, and then someone else had another, then another... it was awesome.
Then I realized: I had not (just) been lucky. The organizers of the LE had managed to create a fertile space of cooperation: they created a creative classroom for us (or we created it together).
Now I think I know what I can do. I can create an environment in which my pupils feel free to experiment and express themselves. I can allow them to solve a problem using different strategies, exploiting different intelligences, choosing different tools. I learnt a lot out of this LE and I had fun in the process - I guess I can create the same feeling for my pupils.
And I close this post with two videos of pupils expressing their creativity.
Thank you Irene Pateraki, not only for the embed code :) but also for keeping the reflection on the Creative Classroom always alive.