Here is a practical tip, an example of how one can use creativity within a set curriculum: students working on a project could be given the choice of how they want to deliver it – by writing a paper, presenting it or performing an experiment. This, in a small but effective way, gives students the flexibility to choose how they want to complete the assignment, and thus, boosts their ability to come up with interesting solutions, as well as intrinsic motivational levels.
Academics and researchers have made several attempts to measure creativity and quantify it using a ‘creativity quotient’ much like IQ or intelligence quotient. These attempts have been largely unsuccessful.
Most schools are clear that they won’t even make the attempt. “You can foster creativity and allow creativity to flow, but you cannot measure it. You can only help children use creativity to critically look at objects,” says Jairam. Likewise, the teachers at CFL are also clear that they have no interest in evaluating how creative a child is.
In a world obsessed with measuring and evaluating everything, it almost seems blasphemous to hear that there are activities and programmes that cannot be measured for results. But it is incredibly hard to measure the success or failure of programmes designed to either inculcate creativity or teach subjects creatively. That said, schools can, and do, make midcourse corrections to their programmes if they find that an existing approach is not working. For example, Valley School introduced their mixed age classes only in 2004 when they found that the conventional means of teaching didn’t match their intent to encourage learning through enquiry. On the other hand, CFL scrapped what they felt was a new and exciting way to teach languages through skits and activities and went back to more conventional drill methods when they found a low retention of the basics. They now use skits and activities to break the monotony.
PISA 2009 jolts India
Whatever be the approach to education, schools must equip children with skills to prepare them for life and onward learning. After all, of what use are debates on creative versus conventional teaching if they do not result in better learning? In that context, the well documented success of Indian students from the top tier schools and colleges such as the IITs should not lull us into complacence about the general state of Indian education.