Creative Learning: Does science need to catch up with art?

Here’s a fantastic TEDx talk from Charles Limb for you. This one is all about creative learning and thinking and made me make some links to some research and development into the inter-relationship between curriculum subjects. If you ever want to demonstrate the absolute need for cross-curricular projects and for collaboration between subject experts, external visitors from professional fields. (Thanks to @limeandginger for tweeting it to me).

The questions he ends with (as all good scientists should end with questions rather than answers, shouldn’t they?!) are as follows:

What is creative genius?

Why does the brain seek creativity?

How do we acquire creativity?

What factors disrupt creativity?

Can creative behaviour be learned? 

Now there’s some excellent enquiry questions to get stuck into…

(Originally posted on

Intellectual Risk Taking: Making creativity safe

Elizabeth Gilbert presents a powerful argument for the need to acknowledge the inherent pressure associated with success and achievement. In her case, she draws on her experience of the pressure of writing a novel which can follow the huge success of her first novel. For me, this highlights the pressure that learners experience when they start to get identified as gifted and talented, or simply just by being, ‘…the one who’s good at (x)’. It’s at this point, often hidden from public view, that some learners will start to sabotage their own success. They’ll stop contributing in class discussions, reject any accolades or public celebrations of achievement or simply take the other route and start disengaging from the learning altogether.

Elizabeth Gilbert presents a useful strategy that links with Professor Carol Dweck’s work on Mindsets. Gilbert suggests that we need to separate our ability from ourselves. We need to step away from describing what “I have achieved” and move instead to “This is what my ability has produced”. Now, using such clunky language is not such a great idea, but you get the picture. We need to recognise the endeavour and effort invested in learning and achievement, and celebrate THAT, rather than label the individual as ‘brilliant’ or ‘genius’. Gilbert offers a get-out clause for those who wish to be quietly successful in her presentation.

Alternatively, or possibly, in addition, it is worth taking a look at ow we celebrate achievement in our schools, and, for that matter, society as a whole.

For many who aspire to be the very best at what they do and who seek only to express their passion for what they do, where in school will they find a warm and supportive environment that will guarantee a full-bodied, non-judgemental welcome to their most precious and personal creative offerings?

Importance of creativity: My learning catalyst

Sir Ken Robinson is for me, the catalyst for my on-going love affair with TED Talks. His first TED Talk, “Why Schools Kill Creativity” has been the same catalyst for many of my friends, colleagues and friends of friends and colleagues of colleagues..well, you know what I mean. I vividly remember the day I was shown the talk, as happens with all memorable learning moments. I had never come across the TED site and here it was, in its full intellectual glory, and the opening act for me was this talk. Since then, I’ve seen Sir Ken Robinson speak on a number of occasions, so there will inevitably be a few of his talks included in this collection. 

For me, this talk was a “YES!” moment. This was what I had been trying to argue for, rationalise and put into practice throughout my teaching career. I have since shared this talk as part of meetings, training or simply by recommending people make themselves a cup of tea, put their feet up for 18 minutes and enjoy. Many of my colleagues have reported that it has marked a “YES!” moment for them too. I hope it will for you if you haven’t seen it. If you have, I recommend using at as a reflection exercise:

How am I developing learners’ creative capacities in my practice?

What do I need to do to ensure learners feel safe to express themselves?

How does our curriculum create space for learner-involvement (as opposed to ‘participation’ or ‘engagement’) in their own learning?

Who’s curriculum is it?

What conditions for learning do I need to design that will nurture the capacities of all learners (adults and children alike)?

What have I done to develop my practice since I last watched this talk?

If nothing else, just enjoy.

Oh, and It’s very funny too.