Creatively: A Symbiotic Process
by Elizabeth Adams & Halima Brewer
the example of an artist, we see how parallels emerge if we
think of teaching as a creative and dynamic process. For the
artist, as Eisner suggests, decisions and judgements are made
as the work progresses. Not everything can be taken care of
in advance. This applies to the teacher too, and part of this
dynamic and ongoing process is nourished and nurtured by the
feedback which we have collected from learners in a variety
of ways and which we continue to reflect upon and draw on
in future classes.
Artists do work within certain constraints, even if by comparison
with teaching we see the artist's work as being free from
constraints. Freedom from all constraints is not necessarily
seen as liberating, rather it is from the challenge of working
within some kind of limiting framework and being flexible
within those constraints, that creativity will emerge. Most
teachers feel restricted by the constraints imposed upon them
and which usually they can do nothing about. Yet the challenge
for teachers is in working creatively, innovatively and flexibly
within those constraints.
Artists and teachers alike need to draw on a wide range of
skills, techniques, bodies of knowledge and their own acquired
knowledge and judgement in order to carry out their work.
The greater their repertoire and experience, the more flexible
and responsive they should be to what unfolds in the course
of the action in teaching.
Truly creative processes are usually measured by the result
of those processes, and sometimes but not always, there is
a concrete end product. Whether one can be called creative
if one's ideas do not result in some kind of visible result
outside of the creator's mind is a controversial subject.
In teaching we may occasionally be rewarded by a poem or a
piece of prose which is creative, but in general the results
of teaching creatively are not always easy to define. Yet
the language learning process itself has been described as
a creative one and, if we take that view, then we are implicated
in that creative process.
a foreign language is a creative process. When we use techniques
to stimulate creativity or activate the imagination, we simultaneously
develop mental aptitudes and processes needed in language
be involved in language learning, in facilitating the learning
of others, teachers need to be creative, flexible and responsive
in their attitudes towards the people they work with. Perhaps
we should see the outcomes of teaching creatively as seeds
which are planted to blossom in the future? In nurturing and
encouraging curiosity and love of learning for its own sake
which goes beyond the collecting of certificates, diplomas
and the passing of examinations. What do you feel the results
or the outcomes of creative teaching might be?
A student on a pre-service teacher training course where we
were discussing teaching creatively wrote 'the painter would
be the teacher; the paintbrush, the knowledge of the teacher
and the way she transmits it; the picture, how the teacher
has been able to transmit the knowledge and how the students
have understood it.'
We have emphasised the place of feedback in creative processes,
and to finish we include some feedback from this workshop
which has made us think, reconsider, reframe and more than
anything learn from those who offered their thoughts, ideas
and observations in response to ideas we aired in this workshop.
We should remember that inviting feedback will generate a
variety of responses, some we may feel more affinity with
than others, but that in keeping an open mind we are more
likely to grow and develop as teachers.
'I was reminded that being a teacher is a massive responsibility
in terms of presenting creative lessons, day in, day out'
'I liked being compared to an artist'
'The artist teacher analogy was insightful'
'Sometimes we don't do what we want to do because we
don't know what the consequences are going to be'
'Interesting if you are not time constrained'
'Could be a useful idea depending on the age and kind
'Ideas like this need student support, some nationalities
might find it difficult or sensitive'
'Just like good and bad artists, you get good and bad
Appel J (1995) Diary of a Language Teacher (Heinemann)
Dufeu B (1994) Teaching Myself (Oxford University Press)
Eisner E (1979) The Educational Imagination (Macmillan)
Roxanne Brewer McoT. Dip, TEFLA
Freelance teacher and teacher trainer in Jaén, Spain,
for the last 7years, previously with the British Council.
I am a member of several professional organisations, including
IATEFL, TESOL and SEAL, member of the College of Teachers.
Published an article for HLT website, http://www.hltmag.co.uk/mar00/sart2.htm
Practitioner NLP, and am working on new and humanistic techniques
in the teaching of English as a foreign language, and self-development
as applied to language learning. firstname.lastname@example.org
McoT, B.Ed Hons, Dip TEFLA. started teaching as a Teacher
of Art and Design in Britain, then moved on to TEFL teaching
in various countries, working for The Centre for British
Teachers, the British Council and the Bell School.
For the last 10 years, Elizabeth has worked at the University
of Jaén mainly involved in teacher training as
well as teaching courses on language communication skills.
She has given courses and published articles on various
areas including; using poetry in the EFL class, humanistic
teaching, creativity in teaching and learning, and teacher
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