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Teaching Creatively: A Symbiotic Process
by Elizabeth Adams & Halima Brewer
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Reprinted from the Teacher Development MG newsletter, Summer 2001. The article is a write-up of a paper given at the 2000 IATEFL SIG Symposium in Madrid

Viewing teaching as something much more than the transmission of a body of knowledge reveals teaching and learning as a process which bounces back and forth between teachers and learners. Feedback is crucial, however it is come by, and acting on that feedback helps to make the process a symbiotic, two-way one. By responding to what goes on in the classroom, by noticing students' responses, by collecting feedback in any ways that we can, the experience of teachers and learners is enriched by the ongoing process of teaching and learning.
Workshop formats are interesting because they allow participants and presenters alike to try out, to actively participate, to think, to discuss, and to reflect a little on the ideas and activities which have been presented. Also, they provide some feedback for everyone to take away with them.
Metaphors are useful and often surprisingly fruitful for the light they shed and the new perspectives they can open up in areas which we sometimes take for granted. We took the idea of teaching as an art to help focus our thoughts, as a kind of lens through which to view the teacher and the teaching process; how we might make it more creative and how it then becomes a process of learning and personal development for teachers and learners alike.

'Teaching is an art, in the sense that teachers like painters, composers, actresses and dancers, make judgements based largely on qualities that unfold in the course of the action. The ends they achieve are often created in the process.' Eisner

'The qualities unfolding in the course of action are part of what makes the teaching situation unique and incalculable.' Appel

When we think about creative processes in general they seem to be characterised by certain common elements:

Unfolding nature
Constraints and flexibility
Skills, techniques, knowledge, experience and judgement
End product

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