Saturday, February 16, 2013

Creativity in Teaching, Alchemy, and Technology?

One of my new colleagues Lauren Gatti has recently summarized her research interest as "The ways teachers are alchemizing a crappy curriculum". It is such an apt metaphor of what we do in teacher education- that I had to share. In alchemy early scientists tried to make gold out of lower metals, and we try to teach our teachers to make something out of top down often ridiculous mandates about content, delivery, and assessment.

The driving force in alchemizing I would argue is creativity. My reading and thinking about creativity has led me to think about creativity as a process and not a product. Bob Woody a colleague who has great insights about creativity has recently twitted this review of a working paper on creativity. At the heart of the argument is that creative minds are inquisitive, persistent, imaginative, collaborative, and disciplined. It occurred to me that while teaching creativity is an oblique idea, teaching these qualities is not just possible but in many ways is already happening. If we focus on process and not product we can help our peers, colleagues and students develop creative processes- the kind that can help them alchemize crappy curricula and directives into meaningful learning.

So what does technology has to do with this? Well, technology is not necessary for the process.You can alchemize without high-tech tools. Technology, however, provides a space and time to be creative and open horizons that are usually closed. I find that many of the more creative teachers I work with gravitate to technology because it provides them new, multi modal ways of being, thinking and alchemizing.

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