An Alphabet of Inspiration

One of the great points I got out of Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon was that of your creative genealogy. Who are the people that inspire you, whose ideas have added to your creativity; whose ideas can be seen remixed in the work that you do?

So here is my attempt at a creative genealogy in the form of an A-Z of people inspiring me on twitter lately (with some tired Friday night liberties taken on how it works): Continue reading

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Constraints Causing Creativity

I first came across the idea of enabling constraints when investigating Complexity Theory for my thesis. The book Engaging Minds gives great examples of how the right level of constraints are required to truly cause creativity to occur. This was echoed recently in a post by Tom Barrett in his post about setting the right level of constraint for learning in your class.

As this school year started, Hobsonville Point Secondary School was entering it’s 2nd year of operation and that brings new levels of constraints. 2 Year levels to plan for so double the students and some (nowhere near double) new staff on board. So, how to evolve our structures.

First of all, the 3rd generation timetable:

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Specialised Learning Modules are co-taught by 2 teachers and last year had 2 teaching blocks, we wanted to deepen this so worked a way for each to have an extra hour this year. We also wanted to leverage teacher-student relationships more to enable learning so students will stay with the same teachers for a semester (2 terms) even though the focus concepts shift in the 2nd term from Culture and Diversity to Relationships. Continue reading

What If?

One of my favourite lesson starters is to give students a What If question and give them a few minutes to generate multiple answers. This serves a couple of purposes. 1) they immediately have something to do when they enter class rather than waiting for everyone else to arrive. 2) it gets the brain working in a creative, divergent fashion to start the lesson.

I have spoken about this a few times online and people seem to like the idea. Natasha Low asked if I had blogged about these but I hadn’t so here are some examples of what I mean.

I try to give between 3-5 minutes and set a target of at least 7 ideas written down in that time. Some prompts work better than others of course and students do range in their generative capabilities. Continue reading

What are we doing to provide for learners born in 100 years?

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I am a big fan of twitter chats and regularly take part in many chats based in various countries. Recently, however, I have found that they are becoming ego chambers filled with back patting and lacking critical thought. Still doing great things to connect educators, share ideas and support each other but not really allowing time or space for critical discussion to occur.

That is until the 2nd Birthday of #edchatnz last night. It was a doozy! The topic was “How can we meet students’ needs when the world changes so fast” and Rachel Bolstad (@shiftingthinkng) gave a masterclass in developing critical discussion within the fast-paced environment of a twitter chat.
Continue reading

Culture of Critique

This post follows from an Ignite talk I did this morning on a Culture of Critique and has been brewing for a while. My own reflections over the past 2 terms have now been influenced by my most recent read – Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull, the Head of Disney Pixar.

We have a mantra at HPSS that we use regularly – Warm and Demanding (see this earlier post about Warm and Demanding). I feel we are getting the Warm great, the demanding happens from time to time but I question whether we utilise the warm AND demanding enough in a way that pushes us forward as a school.

For me, this links with an analogy I loved from Creativity Inc: imagine an old heavy suitcase whose well-worn handles are hanging by threads. Continue reading

Catalysts for Curiosity and Creativity

This post is based on an Ignite talk I gave at the Learning at Schools Unconference at Sky City at the end of January.

Titled Catalysts for Curiosity and Creativity, in 5 minutes I briefly covered some suggestions for how teachers can enable students to unleash their creativity. Many of the ideas stem from 2 amazing books I read over summer: Can Computers Keep Secrets by Tom Barrett (from NoTosh) and Creative Confidence by Tom & David Kelley (of IDEO fame). I highly recommend reading both of these books!

When someone mentions curiosity to me, I think of:

  • a sense of childlike wonder
  • eyes wide open
  • looking for new ideas to identify and explore

For me, I link this very closely with creativity. Yet so many people (like they do with Maths) say “I’m not creative.” Continue reading

Curiosity and Inspiration

Last night I bought, downloaded and read Can Computers Keep Secrets? How a Six-Year-Old’s Curiosity Could Change the World by Tom Barrett. Stemmed by all the questions his 6 year old son asks, Tom then delves into how we could maintain this natural curiosity that is with all youngsters but seems to disappear as we grow up.

I have long wondered at which point do we stop questioning the world like a 6 year old? When do we start to have more anxiety than curiosity?

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These questions struck me as both an educator and a parent. Continue reading