What are creative pedagogies?

IMG_0336One of the catch-22 situations in education seems to be that if you don’t explain your terms and context enough you will be misunderstood, but if you DO and your audience is already way ahead of you, you sound patronising. Having struggled with the negative implications of both of these as I sat down to write (well, type) and having worked out that this is a lose-lose situation I am going to throw caution to the wind and set out our stall. And apologies in advance for using three metaphors in the last sentence and possibly stating the obvious in the next one.

In Engaging Imagination we refer to creativity, imagination and play throughout the text as scaffolding for thinking about creative reflection. Enabling the expression of this kind of reflection is through what we can call creative pedagogies, but such things are not purely about making things or framing content artistically or just about things how you learn and teach in the arts, design and media: they are applicable to the ways we interpret, explore and present things in all our disciplines. They are also about how we can take unusual or different approaches to looking at questions or challenging and supporting students in developing their metacognitive and subject capabilities. They may involve getting to grips with subjects, delivery and encounters in unusual ways instead of using the tried and tested techniques of the past (I just wrote ‘tired’ there – think that was a Freudian slip). So, students who are used to writing reflective self-assessments following a certain of structure may instead use movement, visualisation or any number of multisensory and kinaesthetic techniques to connect to their ideas. Similarly, when we talk about imagination we may mean flights of fancy or fantasy but rather intend harnessing a range of thinking techniques and dispositions to wake up a student’s potential and ability to envision. Having set that down, I’m conscious that it can sound regimented or mechanistic, but actually I mean something subtler, more varied and messier than that. Being deep in reading Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind (and probably the last person on the planet to pick up a copy – always late to the party) I do believe that his poetic descriptions of our diverse ways and paces of thinking and knowing do a much better job of evoking what I mean than this post can.

So, here we want to start conversations about what we, as a community of educators, understand to be creative pedagogies and what they look like across the scope and levels of our educational models – formal and informal. Our experiences are rooted in the post post-16 sector and particularly in university education, however we have lessons to learn from teachers in every domain.  Along the way we also seek to explore related activities in other fields and movements, such as those of creative research methods and narratives of lifelong learning.

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