Sunday 22 November 2009

Mr Barrett I have got glue on my laptop!

This Voicethread comes from Tom Barrett's excellent blog. I like the idea here of blended learning tools - the laptop, the glue, the colouring pencils etc. - and the ambition to have such tools available for all learners when they are relevant. I suppose this is what we're aiming to do with Tallis LAB and, hopefully, in all classes in the new school.

The other important thing to remember here is that we need to get to know the learners very well in order to be able to provide the tools that will suit them best when they need them or, to put it another way, we need to have the tools available so that they can choose the best tools with which to learn. Another implication of this approach to learning is that assignments may need to be a bit more open ended, open to interpretation and, well, just more open. Learning can be presented in so many different ways so maybe we could allow learners to choose how to tell us and each other what they have learned? When I think of Creative Learning, this is what I imagine.

I had a conversation with a colleague the other day about what he perceived to be competing agendas. He implied that the drive to raise standards, particularly at KS4, was somehow in competition with what he called the "liberalisation" of the curriculum and messages about increased opportunities for creative learning. I understood what he was saying but I think this is another good example of the way creativity and creative learning are almost willfully misinterpreted to mean soft, woolly and lacking in rigour. My view, and I believe the view taken by experts in the field, is that this is plain wrong. Creative learning requires discipline, imagination, resilience, time-management, self-control, energy and commitment. Surely these attributes are just what is needed to raise standards of learning? It seems that there is still a linguistic battle to be fought and definitions to be agreed upon but those in the standards camp are surely not suggesting that learners need to be less creative. Are they?

Perhaps we should re-visit Bloom's Taxonomy. I hear a lot about "higher order thinking" in school, especially from certain colleagues who are creativity skeptics. I'm sure they are of the opinion that creative learning is all well and good when you have the time and maybe for a couple of weeks in the year when the exams are over. I'm not sure which version of Bloom's Taxonomy they are familiar with but I've recently added a section on the latest one to the Creative Tallis site. This is what I've written:
Benjamin Bloom first published his "Taxonomy of Educational Objectives" in 1956. It attempts to classify different forms and levels of learning. Bloom identifies three domains in which this learning takes place - the cognitive, the affective and the psychomotor. The most discussed of these is the cognitive domain. The original levels within this domain were: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Educators often refer to the notion of "higher order thinking". The belief is that, once the lower order thinking skills (knowing, understanding, applying) have been acquired, higher order thinking can take place (analysis, synthesis and evaluation).

In 2001, Anderson and Krathwohl proposed a revised model of Bloom's taxonomy for the cognitive domain. The illustration above provides a link to an animated resource describing this model. There are two significant changes:

1. the shift from nouns to verbs
2. the top category has changed from "evaluation" to "creating"
According to this model, the ability to create new knowledge, to create something original and of value, belongs with the higher orders of thinking.

Perhaps we should re-visit the notion of creativity as the highest order of thinking? What we also need are more concrete examples of creative thinking for the website. If you have any such examples from your experience at Tallis please let me know and I will be sure to include them on the creative learning page of the site.

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