Serif in Education

Digital Schoolhouse & the natural desire for creativity

We thought we’d share with you a recent news article about the Digital School, a primary to secondary transition-level project which aims to help the teaching of the new Computing Programmes of Study for the National Curriculum. Backed by the Mayor of London and UkiE, each of the 10 Digital Schoolhouses in London will support a network of primary teachers, helping them to deliver creative, cross-curricular lessons with computing at the heart. Digital Schoolhouse also provides inspiring and engaging workshops for visiting primary school pupils.

In the article, Shahneila Saeed, Programme Director of Digital Schoolhouse talked about the best ways to teach children about computing. She talks about many things, but a particular comment that drew my attention was that “Computing techniques don’t mean lessons restricted to a computer screen: magic tricks, dance, playdough, board games and much more can all be used to teach computing concepts.”

She goes onto say that: “Children don’t necessarily think specifically about coding, but are naturally creative beings. They simply want to create things, they want to make things. That might be a game, a video, some artwork or a robot. Our workshops are designed to harness their natural desire for creativity and give them opportunities to learn computing as they play.”

You can find the article here: http://www.alphr.com/technology/1001948/playful-computing-a-look-inside-the-digital-schoolhouse

The nature vs nurture debate is one that is ongoing and many studies have been conducted around it. One famous one is George Land’s Creativity Test. In 1968, George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging in ages from three-to-five years old who were enrolled in a Head Start program. This was the same creativity test he devised for NASA to help select innovative engineers and scientists. The assessment worked so well he decided to try it on children.  He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age, and again at 15 years of age. The results were astounding.

 

Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98%

Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30%

Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12%

Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2%

 

“What we have concluded,” wrote Land, “is that non-creative behaviour is learned.”

(Source: George Land and Beth Jarman, Breaking Point and Beyond. San Francisco: HarperBusiness, 1993)

 

So why aren’t adults as creative as children? Many believe that creativity has been buried by modern rules and regulations. The Industrial Revolution played a part – it was more important to train us to be good workers and follow instructions, than to encourage people to be creative. George Land believes that creativity skills can be learned, but not from sitting in class or a lecture – instead, by learning and applying creative thinking processes.

Louis R. Mobley has a different view however. In 1956, he realized that IBM’s success depended on teaching executives to think creatively rather than teaching them how to read financial reports. As a result the IBM Executive School was built around six of his insights. One of these was that we don’t learn to be creative. We must become creative people.  A Marine recruit doesn’t learn to be a Marine by reading a manual. He becomes a Marine by undergoing the rigors of boot camp.  Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, he is transformed into a Marine.

Whether we can learn to be creative, or we can’t, what is important is that we harness the creativity we possess naturally in our childhoods. And a creative education should play a big part!