Ideas on achievement

9th December 2005 at 00:00
JOURNEY: A HANDBOOK TO SUPPORT THE EXPLORATION OF CREATIVITY IN SCHOOLS. Free (pound;3 PP to UK) from Cape UK, 21 Savile Mount, Leeds LS7 3HZ. Tel: 0113 200 7035. www.capeuk.orgimagesCatalogue%20of%20Publications.doc

One problem with debates about "creativity" in education is the ease with which discussion is diverted into the mere celebration of good intentions. Another is that the language in which it takes place is often swollen with abstract nouns. This 48-page booklet does its best to avoid both pitfalls.

It focuses on the work and ideas of advanced skills teachers from all over England, so it is about achievements rather than aims and targets. And because it is rooted in reality through the use of case studies, we get an animated sense of believable classroom experience; words like "values", "vision" and "respect" are here, but they have to earn their keep.

The first part introduces and expounds 28 training activities, which the AST contributors devised in a programme commissioned by Creative Partnerships. These are set out under sensible headings, ranging from definitions of creativity and descriptions of the school context to observations of what teachers and children actually do and suggestions as to how valuable work can be sustained. It's evident that the activities should not be limited to arts subjects, but can be used for maths and history. It's clear too that the training outlined here, while intrinsically valuable, can't be applied as a blueprint; schools must work out their own solutions.

The case studies are fascinatingly different. Some involve nursery children, others sixth-formers. At times the classroom is a "fictional environment" where stories are developed, while elsewhere it's a setting for meditation. Children in Cornwall explore the traditional clay industry and local mythologies, whereas those on Manchester go out with digital cameras to capture change in a modern city. One wise teacher sees how "my creativity could hinder theirs".

While adults have much to learn from this book, the emphasis is rightly on the next generation.

Tom Deveson

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