Thursday, July 20, 2006

ICT: The C is for Creativity

I was listening to a recording of a sermon in the car the other day. Among other things, the preacher was talking about Jesus' teaching methods. (I suppose the teacher trainer in me couldn't help but pay more attention to that section!) For example, he pointed out how often Jesus used questions to challenge people's thinking and even in answer to questions he was asked. The part that really made me take notice though was when the preacher said that teaching was a creative process.

Now, I knew that already, but you know how sometimes just hearing somebody say something out loud makes you go, "Yes! That's right." ICT works best when students and teachers are given time to explore and play - to be creative - especially when using read/write web tools like blogs. I have some concerns however, that the teaching of ICT is sometimes far from creative. For example, it worries me that teachers can end up just following an ICT pack where everything is reduced to ticking check boxes.

How long will it be before tools like blogs find their way into Authority approved ICT pack? I can see it now... "Create three line blog post" - Tick. "Add comment to at least two posts." - Tick. "Stifle all creativity." - Tick, tick, tick... boom!

Please tell me this hasn't happened already and that I'm just being an old cynic. :-)

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john said...

Hi David,
You hit a few nails on the head there, if blogs have not made it onto a tick sheet, I bet they will very soon.
As teacher we are often offered, or attracted to activities that tick the box, is this in part due to too many unrealistic targets set for us?
Will a Curriculum For Excellence address this problem or just gives us a different set of boxes to tick?
What is the alternative to ticking boxes? How does the authority make sure I am doing something in my class, not just swinging some 'creative lead'?
I an attempt to avoid ending this sentence in a question mark, I remember this which comforts me: innovate from time to time. That should lets us tick some boxes and have some fun.

Gordon McKinlay said...

At the feedback for a recent HMIe inspection the managing inspector made great play of the importance of not "teaching to the pack". One of my greatest regrets is what we have done to eduction by making sure that we have a pack for everything. As one of the national trainers for Higher Still I think I am partly responsible for that view. As soon as we produce a pack we devalue the teacher. The light at the end of the tunnel, I think, is that this is beginning to be recognised so we may be able to start moving away from a pack driven approach. The big problem will always be in upper secondary. This part of the system is so assessment driven that it will be the hardest to crack. Again, Higher Still has a lot to answer for here.

Let's focus on the "C"...communication, collaboration and creativity. That sounds like a good formula to me.

Duncan__ said...

I feel that, as long as the guys further along the conveyor belt have got tick-sheets (whether it's a university admissions officer with a list of desirable Highers, or a Human Resources officer with a list of desirable skills), then teachers are going to have to keep tick-sheets, too.

To get briefly philosophical, it all depends on what we want secondary education to be about. (Or, more accurately, what we can convince SEED that education's about.) If teachers lose the tick-sheets, of course they (we) can still turn out children who are well-educated.

But where's the proof? How do your S5 leavers prove that they're university material? University entrance exams, across the board (not just Oxbridge)? Employers' aptitude tests? (In the past, I've had more than one interview that turned into a psychometric test.)

Do you think a case can be made for giving secondary pupils a broad (tick-box-less) education, with colleges and universities doing the specialisation?

Joe Dale said...

Hi David,

In England, teachers have heard of blogs, but I think we are still catching up on how to use them in the classroom.

Teachers' awareness is being raised through people like Ewan McIntosh and his various conference appearances as well as training in places like Shropshire. See link:

Having been inspired by Ewan's session at The Language Show in November, I knew I needed to find out more about blogging and podcasting. I was asked to contribute to the TES ICT Blog which got me started, but it was only once I'd started my own blog at that I got a much clearer idea on how to use blogs creatively.

I am a full time teacher, but I also run training courses and speak at conferences like Ewan. I think that language teachers need to see lots of examples of how to use blogs and then more will come on board. Yes blogs can be used very creatively, but I think the priority in England anyway is to just get teachers blogging in the first place.

Teachers are naturally creative people and once they can see the benefits of having a blog, we'll see them being launched all over the country I hope. We'll see.

In the meantime, you could have a look at my blog and tell me how creative you think I've been!



Ridhi said...

Hi david!! please dont say that its the end of creativity...cos its not...rite?? hopefully...anyways...blogs...come on i thought they were one of the best creative outlets for people...

David said...

Hello John

I'm not against appropriate assessment, but I am against the unthinking box ticking that can sometimes arise from the uncritical use of the teaching pack.

David said...

Hello Gordon

That's two recent comments where you have reported the HMIe saying something sensible. What's going on? :-)

I can understand the desire for a pack - especially when people are unsure of what they have to do. Therefore, I don't think that the production of a pack in itself devalues the teacher. However, if we encourage (implicitly or explicitly) the uncritical use of the pack - that's when teachers become devalued.

I remember when the old Higher Computing teaching pack came out. One of the sections had loads of OHP slides. Someone worked out that if you showed them all, you'd have to display a new slide every 5 seconds (or something like that - remember 87% of all statistics are made up on the spot). I never used anything like all the available OHPs, but as a teacher I was glad they were there! I could pick and choose as I saw appropriate and as I felt my classes required. I even added some of my own despite the number that were there already for me. However, I was very glad to have the pack as a starting point.

David said...

Hello Duncan

Similar answer to the one that I gave to John I think. I am not against assessment but I think we have to guard against the tail wagging the dog.

I am worried that the aim could become ticking boxes rather than encouraging creative and educational uses of read/write web tools. It may be that you have a page of ticks because your pupils have jumped through the hoops set by the teaching pack but they may not have actually learned anything.

Ticking boxes is easy. Assessing learning - that's tricky!

David said...

Hello again Duncan

Hmm! I think I may have sidestepped your final question... Too big for a comment reply I think. Why not blog about this yourself and see if you can generate any discussion? :-)

Note my typical Jordanhill - answer a question with a question! :-)

David said...

Hello Joe

Ewan is frighteningly inspiring, isn't he! :-)

Thank you for your comment. I shall certainly be keeping an eye on your blog.

David said...

Hello Ridhi

I'm with you! I think blogs can be (should be?) incredibly creative. However, education has a long and ignoble history of choking creativity. However,I think that blogs and other read/write web tools may just be robust enough to resist education's attempts to choke the creativity out of them. :-)

David said...

Whew! That was hard work... and I suspect that reading all my comments at the end rather than interspersed isn't easy either... but I will go on holiday, wont I? :-)

aclubley said...

Hi David,

I think teachers (particularly probationer teachers) need packs to work from. i have been teaching nearly ten years. When somethin new comes along i start off using the packs and usually (thank goodness) along with the chiidren we deviate from the pack in all sorts of ways. Teachers need packs, sut they also need to hav the confidence to deviate from them as and when needed.

David said...

Absolutely! I am not anti-pack. I've not only used them myself but have even written a few. :-)

The issue of confidence however is key. I think having a pack is what gives you the confidence to "...deviate from them as and when needed" because you know that if it all goes squiffy, you can just go back to the pack. Perhaps it is a lack of confidence about ICT skills in general and read/write web tools in particular that makes people cling to the pack for comfort.