Strategy for encouraging creativity
Resources that support the implementation of the key stage 3 strategy are increasing in number with the initiative's growing profile, and the Designing Resource Pack produced by the Design and Making Centre on behalf of the DfES is an attractive and useful addition.
Presented in an A3 folder with loose sheets contained in bound plastic sleeves, the pages could easily be removed for display purposes or for photocopying.
Its full-colour pages cover five sections: an overview, case studies, designer attitudes, a toolkit, and design processes. These provide teachers with a source of support and information that could be used to supplement the teaching of existing schemes, or as a student research resource.
The pages headed "Is design a new phenomenon?" should provide inspiration for discussion or for homework on design issues, as should the case studies in interior design, packaging and product design, designing jewellery, developing a menu or food product and a section featuring the development of a complex for mechanical automata (the "Scary Dolls Hospital").
Gifted and talented students at KS3 might access it, but its true value as a student resource might find greater use with KS4, as its presentation style seems well suited to GCSE courses. However, its strength is as a source of inspiration for teachers developing their approach to implementing the KS3 strategy.
The pack's guidance states that the aims of sections one and two are to develop an "understanding that design has and always will be, central to human development" and that there "is not one design process but many".
Both of these aims are supported through the third section, which details the thinking of the designers featured in the studies. Three activities are suggested in which students are asked to examine their own attitudes to designing, and there is also an index (from the DfES KS3 strategy folder) covering the teaching approach to designing during the KS3 years.
The index features activities which are aligned with the familiar stages of projects to provide a progressive three-year outline of an approach to creative designing. Teachers who have attended in-service training to support the KS3 strategy will have developed, resurrected or heightened their creative design awareness and this folder continues to encourage and stimulate along teaching lines that are becoming increasingly common.
Creativity in design is a mixture of discipline and free-thinking and encouraging these qualities in students is time consuming. It is probably best encouraged through the creation of an environment in which controlled inspiration is seen to be used and pages from the folder would provide a good start.
The toolkit (section four) details several approaches to design activities from the KS3 strategy guidance, such as Edward de Bono's "Six Thinking Hats" programme - thinking modes giving directions for thinking.
Often, the results are more focused and the final discussion more revealing about the product than might prove to be the case with less structured analytical activities.
Creativity is an elusive quality and creative resources and strategies are essential to encourage it in both teachers and students alike. The folder is an attractive product and supports the difficult task of elevating design consciousness in many of us.
Contact the Design and Making Centre for details of availability for the KS3 Framework Resource.
Bill Richmond is an advanced skills teacher and head of DT at St John's School, Epping, and runs a DT website: www.design-technology.info