Bring creativity back!

Posted by kate Poels on Sunday, July 21, 2019
This half term I have thoroughly enjoyed going into classrooms with a very talented artist to have fun with some year 4 and 5 children as part of a research study with Oxford Brookes and the University of Reading.

Anyone who has a knowledge of the workings of a primary classroom will know that gradually, year on year, the creativity is being sucked out of the timetable as more and more is expected of the teaching staff and children from an increasingly structured curriculum. 

It frightens me and I worry that we are swapping the freedom and exquisitely endless imaginations that come with childhood for a schooling based around writing rules and grammatical prowess.
Most teachers I know crave more time for creativity in the classroom and to give the opportunity to their pupils to forget the rules now and again and unleash the full power of their imaginations.
  
Of course grammar is important and of course we need to teach our children structure and rules but I passionately feel that this should only be a part of the way we teach. 
Since I first started my teaching degree in 1998 I have seen huge changes in the way we are expected to teach and it doesn't sit well with me.  There is an obsession for getting things on paper, setting objectives and making those the holy grail of success. 
I have taught wonderful story tellers who constantly fall short when it comes to putting their ideas on paper.  Children who can vocalise fantastic worlds and create stories I would be delighted to have come up with myself.  They have sat with me and not stopped talking, their eyes shining and their speech speeding up as the ideas pour from mind to mouth.  It is one of the true joys of working with children and I smile every time it happens.

The trouble is, the same children so often stumble when it comes to writing those stories down.  They are so caught up in the objective and checking they have used the correct sentence starter and included the right type of clause or the proper ratio of speech versus action that the raw story that caught them up verbally is now lost and a mediocre copy of what has been modeled by the teacher is neatly written in their books - objective met, smiley face in book.
Each time this happens a tiny part of that imaginative rush is lost and that is something to mourn.

It is the main reason I left teaching and why I now love going into schools as a creative with the sole objective of firing up those wonderful minds and allowing them to find creativity however they choose.  

So when I was contacted by a wonderful lady from the University of Reading and asked if I would take part in a study of how creativity can be used to teach not only writing but also new maths concepts and an additional language, of course I jumped in board!  
And guess what?  It worked!
  
The teachers in the schools we visited commented again and again on how switched on and involved the children were.  They were engaged, settled, amazingly well-behaved, attentive....and they learnt. 
The official results are not in yet but I already know from talking to the children and participating staff afterwards that they had grasped brand new maths concepts and many could translate these into Polish too (our chosen second langauge).  Why? Because they were having fun and they were given the option to learn in several different ways.  They were not afraid to experiment when they were writing about the crazy characters they had developed as part of the task because the writing had no specific SPAG  learning objective.  So they let loose and had a go.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this study and I can't wait to read the official results once the project has been assessed and the findings written up.

In the meantime I am looking forward to more creative writing sessions next year when I will have the absolute pleasure of tapping into other young imaginations and seeing where they take us!




Bring creativity back!

Posted by kate Poels on Sunday, July 21, 2019
This half term I have thoroughly enjoyed going into classrooms with a very talented artist to have fun with some year 4 and 5 children as part of a research study with Oxford Brookes and the University of Reading.

Anyone who has a knowledge of the workings of a primary classroom will know that gradually, year on year, the creativity is being sucked out of the timetable as more and more is expected of the teaching staff and children from an increasingly structured curriculum. 

It frightens me and I worry that we are swapping the freedom and exquisitely endless imaginations that come with childhood for a schooling based around writing rules and grammatical prowess.
Most teachers I know crave more time for creativity in the classroom and to give the opportunity to their pupils to forget the rules now and again and unleash the full power of their imaginations.
  
Of course grammar is important and of course we need to teach our children structure and rules but I passionately feel that this should only be a part of the way we teach. 
Since I first started my teaching degree in 1998 I have seen huge changes in the way we are expected to teach and it doesn't sit well with me.  There is an obsession for getting things on paper, setting objectives and making those the holy grail of success. 
I have taught wonderful story tellers who constantly fall short when it comes to putting their ideas on paper.  Children who can vocalise fantastic worlds and create stories I would be delighted to have come up with myself.  They have sat with me and not stopped talking, their eyes shining and their speech speeding up as the ideas pour from mind to mouth.  It is one of the true joys of working with children and I smile every time it happens.

The trouble is, the same children so often stumble when it comes to writing those stories down.  They are so caught up in the objective and checking they have used the correct sentence starter and included the right type of clause or the proper ratio of speech versus action that the raw story that caught them up verbally is now lost and a mediocre copy of what has been modeled by the teacher is neatly written in their books - objective met, smiley face in book.
Each time this happens a tiny part of that imaginative rush is lost and that is something to mourn.

It is the main reason I left teaching and why I now love going into schools as a creative with the sole objective of firing up those wonderful minds and allowing them to find creativity however they choose.  

So when I was contacted by a wonderful lady from the University of Reading and asked if I would take part in a study of how creativity can be used to teach not only writing but also new maths concepts and an additional language, of course I jumped in board!  
And guess what?  It worked!
  
The teachers in the schools we visited commented again and again on how switched on and involved the children were.  They were engaged, settled, amazingly well-behaved, attentive....and they learnt. 
The official results are not in yet but I already know from talking to the children and participating staff afterwards that they had grasped brand new maths concepts and many could translate these into Polish too (our chosen second langauge).  Why? Because they were having fun and they were given the option to learn in several different ways.  They were not afraid to experiment when they were writing about the crazy characters they had developed as part of the task because the writing had no specific SPAG  learning objective.  So they let loose and had a go.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this study and I can't wait to read the official results once the project has been assessed and the findings written up.

In the meantime I am looking forward to more creative writing sessions next year when I will have the absolute pleasure of tapping into other young imaginations and seeing where they take us!