Saturday 30 April 2016

Nicky Morgan talks rubbish about creativity to head teachers today

Nicky Morgan throws down a challenge:

"What are the limits placed on a child's imagination when they cannot write down their ideas for others to read?"

This is the Gove theory that we can't be creative or inventive until we've done the 'basics'. Why is it a fallacy?

1. We are creative, imaginative and inventive from the day we are born. Yes, what we are creative 'with' is, as they say, 'contingent' - that's to say it depends on what materials or resources we have to be creative with. So as tiny infants we can be creative and inventive with clay, paint, coming up with ideas for things to play with, and we have to be creative in order to learn language - that is we play with alternatives and find out which words and constructions work.

2. Nicky Morgan is posing the idea that when this comes to one specific matter - 'writing' - first you have to learn how to write, then you can be creative. This supposes that we can't learn how to write by being creative! What an absurd and illogical idea. Anyone who has worked with young children has observed hundreds, if not thousands of occasions, when children have been inventive and creative and pushed at the frontiers of what they can (and can't do) with a pencil in their hand making words and sequences of words.

One example: children often ask me what is the bear thinking in the last picture of 'We're Going on a Bear Hunt'. I say, 'I don't know. What do you think?' Then they tell me. If I'm with a group in, say, Reception or Year 1 class, I get them to say these out loud and then, say, let's write these down. And the teachers will organise the children in such a way as to enable the better writers in the room (including adults) help those children who aren't able to write down their thoughts, and those who can write it, do. This will involve 'stretching' all the children into finding ways of writing down the thoughts they have just had - all of which involve 'creativity' because there are no words in the book to tell us immediately what the bear is thinking. However, the children have the resources of the book, their other reading (and listening) and their lives to answer the question that they themselves have posed. So, they are in control of the very question themselves.

In other words the children are learning literacy THROUGH being creative. That's the point.

This is in direct and total contrast to SPaG/GPS learning which determines a) what must be taught and learned b) treats the learner as having no control over the learning process c) has no other outcome than a right/wrong answer.

3. In short, Nicky Morgan you have shown yourself to be ignorant of a basic tenet of learning and creativity.