Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Road to PEP - Harnessing creativity

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2018 | 12:19 AMBrittany Singh Williams

Mastery in the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) is reflected in a student’s ability to apply content knowledge, skills and abilities outlined in the National Standards Curriculum (NSC).  The expected student outcomes in the NSC are grounded in the mastery of the 4 C's  — Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking. 

Today’s focus is on creativity.

Creativity is considered to be an immeasurable, natural ability. However, advocates purport that it is skill-specific, requiring intentional instruction. Creativity has become the new currency of the world as new categories of occupations emerge.

The skill sets in many industries have evolved and in some situations people have to be innovative and create their own jobs. Now, more than ever, creativity must be recognised as a powerful addition to the current world of work and Education.

Paul Collard of Creative Partnerships wrote: “Creative skills aren’t just about good ideas; they are about having the skills to make good ideas happen.”

Children have an innate sense of curiosity that can be developed by parents and teachers; when curiosity is nurtured, creativity blossoms.

This is a skill that must be taught and developed. Within the context of PEP, creativity is about promoting fresh perspectives — looking at the problems, or situations within the various academic subject areas and encouraging fresh perspectives that suggest unorthodox solutions.

Creativity has the potential to change things and we need to develop possibilities in our children.

In Social Studies for example, students are encouraged to gather, interpret and use data to form a new perspective or approach. In doing so, they obtain their own forms of evidence to create new meaning to situations.

One such PEP assessment task that could develop the skill of creativity in Social Studies might look like this: —

The principal asks the students to recommend a community project for the entire school to participate in. Each student is to help their class choose a project and provide evidence to justify the choice. The task:

Identify 2-3 community problems which you have observed or learnt about and use examples to support your answers

Explain how you would solve one of the three problems in the form of a project.

Write two (2) questions which you would ask community members in an interview to obtain further proof that your project could in fact solve the problem.

Prepare a report, which you would present to your class in an effort to convince them to select your community project.

In order to answer this question, students should have obtained some knowledge on gathering information about their community and confirming the validity of the findings in order to define a novel solution. This kind of content and skill knowledge can be learnt both at school and home.At school, innovative thinking models will be utilised to teach and encourage creativity.

But along with teachers, parents have a vital role in helping their children develop creative skills.

Studies show that parents and guardians have the unique capacity to cultivate creativity in children and to help them to explore and to adapt to the world at large. Creative thinking needs to be shared and validated by others in a socially supportive atmosphere, which is primarily at home.

To prepare your child for a PEP assessment task like the one described above, having regular open conversations and discussions about local, international issues and current events are helpful in bringing awareness, but also develops creative aptitude when we allow them to experience the world and interpret meaning to it. 

Watch the news together, share interesting articles from newspapers, browse the Internet together and engage in discussions.

Encouraging creativity

As parents or guardians, we can encourage creativity by using some of the following ideas:

Embrace the notion that creativity is a positive part of learning.  Teachers can create an environment in the classroom to promote creativity. Awards, creative solutions and works of art may be showcased. Parents identify your children’s talents and strengths and allow them the freedom to express themselves in those areas.

Teach children to be flexible thinkers and doers. Ask your child to consider hypothetical situations and have them design creative solutions. Play “what if” games to stretch their imaginations.

Schedule activities from the creative arts and media-oriented programmes. Engage your children in activities that stretch their abilities and that incorporate cognitive and emotional functioning.

Explore different cultures. Have children practise suspending judgements about people. With the rise of social media, teach them to always remain curious, don’t fall prey to stereotypes.

Help your child feel safe to be free. Allow time for play and expression. Give constructive feedback and lots of praise.

Be their safe haven. Be responsive and positive when your child shares past explorations and future plans with you. When they feel uncertain, let them know anxiety is natural and encourage them to try new things.

Tapping into your child’s creativity will contribute to their development as profoundly aware, open minded and curious children who will appreciate different cultures and will be global citizens of the future.

- Brittany Singh Williams is the founder of SPARK Education Ltd, and senior adviser to the Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information.