Creativity or Conformity? Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education

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Creativity or Conformity? Building Cultures of Creativity in Higher Education

A conference organised by the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff in collaboration with the Higher Education Academy

Cardiff January 8-10 2007

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Creative Reflection, Creative Practice: Expressing the Inexpressible

Shelley Tracey

School of Education
Queen’s University Belfast
s.tracey@qub.ac.uk

Copyright © in each paper on this site is the property of the author(s).  Permission is granted to reproduce copies of these works for purposes relevant to the above conference, provided that the author(s), source and copyright notice are included on each copy.  For other uses, including extended quotation, please contact the author(s).

Abstract

Whatever else it may be, creativity is intriguing; this view appears to be shared by the literature on the subject and by popular culture. While there is little agreement about the exact nature, processes and products of creativity, there seems to be a fascination both with its complexity and the sheer impossibility of providing clear explanations for it. This paper does not attempt to generate yet another explanation, but instead offers a framework for exploring creativity in the context of teaching and teacher education. The nature of creativity in teaching is usually evidenced by its products: innovative curriculum design or original students’ work. The focus of this paper, however, is on developing opportunities for teachers to understand, explore and express their identities as creative practitioners. These opportunities are offered in the form of “creative reflection”, a framework of creative methodologies for engaging teachers individually and collectively in identifying and expanding their creativity practices. The notion of creative reflection challenges the action-reflection dichotomy of reflective practice and extends reflection beyond cognitive, retrospective models to encompass the exploration of possibility through play, image-making, writing, action methods and storytelling. The paper offers examples of and reflections on these methods from the author’s use of creative methodologies in a teacher education programme at Queen’s University Belfast.

Creative Reflection, Creative Practice: Expressing the Inexpressible

The concept and practices of creative reflection have been developed in a teacher education programme at Queen’s University Belfast to enhance the model of reflective practice on which the programme is based. Creative reflection is a framework of creative methodologies whereby teachers explore their practice and the liminal spaces between action and reflection. This work is a response to the need in teacher education for “the development of more complex models of reflection, related to purpose, which take greater cognisance of existing knowledge from other disciplines, particularly those aspects of psychology concerned with cognitive processes including problem-finding, insight, wisdom, creativity” Leitch and Day (2000: 186-187).

Creativity itself is an elusive concept; the literature on the subject incorporates a range of perspectives and dichotomies, raising a number of questions. Those pertinent to this paper include: - is creativity a cognitive process, or is it socially constructed? - is creativity to do with outcomes, or with processes and qualities such as fluency, imagination and originality? - what are the conditions which support the development of creativity? - what is the nature of creativity in education, and does it have a place in teacher education?

One of the assumptions on which this paper is based is that teachers are creative; by extension, teacher education should therefore provide them with opportunities to identify themselves as creative and to enhance their creativity. Craft (2001: 48) suggests that teachers are...
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