Sunday 25 April 2010


I've just discovered the Dreamlines website. According to the About page:
Dreamlines is a non-linear, interactive visual experience. The user enters one or more words that define the subject of a dream he would like to dream. The system looks in the Web for images related to those words, and takes them as input to generate an ambiguous painting, in perpetual change, where elements fuse into one another, in a process analogous to memory and free association.
I typed in the word "creativity" and all the images in this post were generated in a few seconds. The image constantly changes as new data is discovered relating to the search. Very cool.

Why not give it a whirl?

Sunday 18 April 2010

Creative Thinking in the Classroom

Image courtesy of Jef Safi

I've just been reading two very interesting blog posts about creative thinking in schools. Lots of the ideas in them will be familiar to you but I really liked the central notion in both that creative thinking is a process of re-thinking through the introduction of deliberate disorganisation. This sounds, on the face of it, a strange process. Why deliberately disorganise your thinking about something? Aren't most educators, especially those with an eye on the fast approaching examinations, hell bent on organising their students' thinking?

The issue, it seems, is that if we move through the thinking process too quickly, we may miss the opportunity to really deepen our understanding of a given topic. Learning comes from experience. We then attempt to understand this experience. Our urge is to apply what we have learned in order to create a record of our learning. But, if we value creative approaches to learning, would we be better off delaying the application phase in order to re-think about our original experience and understanding? What if we jump too soon into a narrow application that provides is a relatively superficial record of our learning? The chances are, in this case, that the learning may not stick since it has not been deep enough.

When given the opportunity to re-explore understandings, the brain often engages in re-comprehension, the sorting of critical details, and re-elaboration, the recognition of new patterns. These new patterns may be new, unique, creative. As the individual examines these new patterns, methods of expressing them may come to mind. These possible expressions are then examined for potential, and if deemed effective, the individual may proceed to producing a creative product.

So, what's involved in this re-thinking? Well, we need to create space and time for our imaginations to work on the original stimulus. We need to explore alternative ways of representing what we understand. We might re-present it to a new audience. We may use metaphor or analogy to compare what we know with something else. We may wish to ask a whole series of questions in an attempt to destabilise what we think we know, to knock it off balance and look at it from a different perspective. Whatever techniques we use to introduce deliberate disorganisation, the chances are that if we allow ourselves the opportunity to reflect, to re-think, when we get to the point where we are ready to reformulate our understanding, we will be able to create a more creative and more deeply realised record of our learning.

I've read a lot of stuff about creativity and creative learning but the ideas contained in these two blog posts come pretty close to summing up my attitude to the value of creative thinking in schools. In case I've misrepresented the thoughts of the authors (by introducing too much deliberate disorganisation of my own) here are the orginal posts:

Creative Thinking in the Classroom Part 1

Creative Thinking in the Classroom Part 2

What are the implications for promoting creative thinking in schools? Here are a few things I would like to see:
  • a more integrated curriculum at KS3 with a central focus on developing independent learners through explicit thinking skills activities
  • Philosophy for Children built into the core curriculum at KS3 and 4 so that learners acquire an ability to question and reflect effectively
  • a greater focus on extended, open-ended home learning assignments that encourage students to re-present what they have learned to a variety of real audiences using a range of tools, processes and techniques
  • a greater emphasis on teachers developing, maintaining, sharing and debating their preferred pedagogy
What would you like to add to this list?

Alice for the iPad

It won't be long before the iPad hits the shops and I, for one, am saving my pennies to get one. This video brilliantly captures the essence of the device. Books become interactive adventures. The internet looks amazing. The app store is already bursting with great content. A new version of iWork is bundled with the device. Imagine a class set of these sitting in the corner of the room? There are already rumours of the next version having a camera on board. Now that really would make it a very desirable learning tool.

What do you think of the iPad? Do you think we should be looking at getting some for school? If not the iPad, then what other mobile computing device would you favour?

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Speed of Light instalation

I just come across a really interesting installation commissioned by virgin media tto celebrate the're 10th anniversary of providing broadband for the UK,

It comprises a series of laser-based experimental light works which flow through the labyrinthine spaces of the Bargehouse, the four-storey ex-warehouse on London's South Bank. It ends on the 19th April so get down there soon!

For more info check out these web sites:

Monday 12 April 2010

Animated Manifesto

This post is not intended to demonstrate any party political support but I confess I am impressed with the new Labour Party manifesto animated film. It seems to have just the right combination of wit, clarity and accessibility. Let's face it, getting to grips with (and remembering) manifesto statements can be a bit tricky. Perhaps we could take a leaf out of their book with our own Manifesto for a Creative Tallis?

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Olympic Mash-up

This looks like a lot of fun. I'm popping along to see the Ron Arad show at the Barbican later this week and I'm very partial to a spot of ping pong.

I wonder if we could attempt something similar during one of the Olympic days during the Past, Present & Future festival? Perhaps we could create a whole series of strange sports in a kind of Olympic mash-up?

Any suggestions?

Friday 2 April 2010

Childish Creativity

Photo courtesy of Leo Reynolds

"You are 7 years old. School is canceled, and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see?"

"School is canceled, and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see?"

In a recent study about creativity these two sentences were given to two different groups of undergraduate university students. After a period of activity, the students were given several tests to assess their creativity. Which group do you think scored higher? It seems that the inclusion of the words "You are 7 years old" made all the difference. Why is this?

Jonah Lehrer argues that it's got something to do with the way our brain develops as we get older. Scientists have been able to show that we get increasingly less adept at divergent (or lateral) thinking.
We trade away the ingenuity of our youth for executive function. As the brain develops, the prefrontal cortex expands in density and volume. As a result, we're able to exhibit impulse control and focused attention. The unfortunate side-effect of this cortical growth is an increased ability to repress errant thoughts. While many of these thoughts deserve to be suppressed, it turns out that we also censor the imagination. We're so scared of saying the wrong thing that we end up saying nothing at all.
Encouraging older students to imagine that they are young again, to literally think like 7 year olds, is a recipe for success when we want to develop creative learning. I wonder if it has the same effect on teachers?

Tallis Creators

Tallis Creators, the new student commissioning group, now has its very own blog. The group has met once and will begin its work in earnest when it meets to discuss the Tangled Feet residency with Kat and Nathan after the Easter break.

Thursday 1 April 2010