Creativity symposium

One of the best sessions I attended  was the Creativity Symposium on Friday. It featured short talks by Alan Maley, Chaz Pugliese, Hanna Kryszewska, Marl Almond, Chris Lima and Brian Tomlinson. Each speaker addressed creativity from a diffente angle, thus showing the wide variety of interpretations and applications that it can have.
Alan Maley set the tone with an introductory talk on the what, why and how of creativity.  He finished by stating factors that facilitate creativity:
    •    Playing around, experimenting
    •    Leaving space for chaos and randomness
    •    Trying new ways of doing old things
    •    Using heuristic/ analogy to provoke new ideas
    •    Allowing time and silence to work
    •    Finding unusual combinations
    •    Drawing on other domains for inspiration
    •    Making sure it's relevant
    •    Not forgetting effort, working within constraints
    •    Not forgetting pleasure and delight
Chaz Pugliese spoke about Flow in the sense of focused motivation, being oblivious of everything and everybody around. He suggested the students should become aware of the environment they work in. Getting the students focused first, getting them to pay attention before you move to tasks. He identified the following needs for flow to happen: a balance between perceived challenge and perceived skills, a clear set of goals and immediate feedback. He also emphasised the idea that creativity is not just doing anything at any time and called for educators to start talking about principled creativity.
Hanna Kryszewska's talk "Creativity for a change" was about using art to generate creative activites in the classroom. She mentioned the Multiple Intelligences theory, Teaching for understanding and Teaching through Fine Arts, all developed by Howard Gardner. She gave a variety of examples using different works of art.
Mark Almond, who has a background in Drama, focused on teaching as an art form and creativity coming from within the teacher: the way the teacher interacts, the use of voice and vocal range for different situations, the use of non verbal communication and body language to creeate a positive impact on the classroom. He expressed his concern about the overuse of technology and he stated we need to be ready for improvisation, to be prepared for the unpredictable, to create presence in the classroom in order to generate flow and to slip in and out of character, as performers do.
Chris Lima focused on Creative Reading in Teacher Development and described the Online Reading Group that she manages within the British Council's Teaching English website. she described some issues related to teachers and reading literature, she showed examples of how she engaged a high number of teachers to read and discuss, and how that lead to other creative expressions, such as creative writing of poems, which were later published. She explained how technology had enabled the reading group to function and reach far corners of the world.
Brian Tomlinson, the last speaker, gave a practical overview on creative use of coursebooks. He started by stating that language use is creative so language learning should be creative as well. He mentioned some drawback of coursebooks in relation to creativity but encouraged teachers to use the coursebook creatively by adapting, adding, modifying.... On the issue of how to do it, he suggested adapting it with activities that encourage:
    •    Personal response to meaning
    •    Language discovery
    •    Authentic communication
    •    Taking risks
He gave lots of lively examples and ended up his talk by saying that nothing improves creativity like the lack of supervision. Creativity is contagious. Pass it on!
Having given a presentation on creativity myself, I have to say that it was throughly enjoyable and full of insights and practical ideas addressed from different perspectives.
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