Creativity in Schools (and how ICT might fit in)

I had an interesting discussion with my better half this evening about ADHD. She works at a local Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) office. When one family missed an appointment to discuss a child and ADHD today, the clinical psychologist joked “everything is probably fine during the school holiday, he will be running around outside.”

This inspired me to show her Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk titled “Do schools kill creativity?” which includes the inspiring story of Gillian Lynne, a fidgeting school-child who would not sit still, and went on to become an internationally successful choreographer:

I was flattered recently when the assistant head in charge of pastoral care said that classroom assistants felt my lessons engaged “difficult” children in one of our Year 7 classes. As much as I would like to take the credit for being a truly inspirational person or expert classroom manager, I suspect it was the engaging nature of the work we were doing that was motivating the students to “behave” (see a separate future blog post on ripping the guts out of a computer).

There is a lot of discussion at the moment of what ICT will look like in UK schools in the medium term future. My current thinking is in three parts:

  1. Schools should provide a baseline of digital literacy skill for all children (basic digital communication skills, esafety awareness, etc).
  2. Schools should give students the opportunity to learn using technology as a tool.
  3. Students should be given a “taste” of Computer Science (particularly programming) and an opportunity to specialise in this area if it turns out to be “something they are good at.”

Many of my Year 8 students have really enjoyed a recent project working with SCRATCH programming software. I was particularly impressed with the work of one of my “bottom set” Year 8 boys (incidentally diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD). He has managed to develop his own pseudo-3D game engine to create first-person-shooter (FPS) games!

I have started teaching GCSE Computing to two classes this year (one in Year 9, another in Year 10) and many students in these classes seem to be really inspired by what they are learning (again, probably more because of the subject than the teacher!).

Perhaps the new focus on Computer Science in schools will help a large minority of students “find out what they are good at”?

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