I was fortunate to hear the author Marcus Alexander speak at a school where I was working a couple of weeks ago. Full credit to the head teacher for allowing the children to miss lessons to listen to him. He has written 3 fantasy novels about a girl called Charlie Keeper who goes through a door in her house into a magical realm. I have not read the books myself (yet) but it seems that they follow the traditional hero’s journey.
He talked about his travels and experiences as well as the books. He urged the children to use their imaginations, to read, create, travel and try new things. Great stuff but the thing that concerns me is that 99% of those kids will go home and play on their x-boxes, hang about the streets just as they did before. Why? Because once is not enough they need to hear this every day!
The kids are not stupid, they know that most of what they learn in school is pointless. It’s not the teachers’ fault – they have not been trained to help the kids access their imaginations. To quote Robert Fritz from ‘The Path of Least Resistance’:
Although ‘creativity’ is praised with lip service, some educators tend not to know about or practice using imagination in their own lives, which makes it difficult for them to teach imagination to their students.’
I believe education is slowly moving in the right direction though, it can be no coincidence that Sir Ken Robinson’s talk ‘How Schools Kill Creativity’ is one of the most watched Ted talks. There is still a long way to go though.
On Friday I was taking a music lesson with some year 7s. There was some work for them to do on the computer but they soon tired of that so they started playing the drums, dancing and singing. At the end many of them said it was the best lesson they had ever had. I don’t suppose it met Ofsted’s criteria, we did not have a ‘learning objective’ but they probably learned more in that one lesson than they did in the rest of the week.