Time to Engage Our Students

It is as big a challenge now as it ever has been to engage our students.  Programs which treat children like robots and show a preference for rote skills and the dissemination of facts rather than debate, creativity and self-expression are limited, turgid and a thing of the past.

It was refreshing to read an article from The Guardian that encourages schools to get more creative:

But there is a long-standing debate in education about creativity and the need to inject more of it into teaching. Can it really be taught?

At The Chalfonts community college, a non-selective school in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire, they believe very firmly that it can. As part of an “enrichment curriculum” all key stage three students spend whole days learning how to use video, animation and digital imaging with industry professionals as part of the school’s push to develop creativity across all subjects.

“The aim is to develop personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS), creative thinkers and team workers,” says Greg Hodgson, a senior leader at Chalfonts who also mentors students in the arts.

Digital technology such as digital imaging, film, animation, graphics and game-making is also a critical element in the school’s GCSE art curriculum where it has, says Hodgson, enabled otherwise under-achieving students and apparently non-creative students to blossom by harnessing their fascination with gaming.

“One student, one of the lowest ability boys I’ve ever taught, couldn’t really read and write properly and staff spent more time talking to him about his behaviour than his work. He particularly flourished when I gave him control of the tools and told him that he could actually teach himself.

“He was coding and writing action scripts using interactive Adobe Flash animation, which is a really high-level skill. One lovely piece of work featured moral dilemmas with the story of a girl who had the opportunity to steal. An angel and a devil both appear in the ether around this girl’s head and the reader/viewer has to choose: does she steal a chocolate bar or not? In fact, this is the first stage of gaming: the interactive viewer clicks and decides which line of a story to follow.”

ICT is constantly changing and digital technology is becoming more geared to assist us in the classroom.  Yes, it is difficult for teachers to learn, and I am as terrified by technological advancements as the next teacher.  But it is not just an important skill in today’s age, but also an opportunity to bring greater creativity to our classroom.

After all, students learn so much better when they are engaged and have the chance to think creatively.

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One Response to “Time to Engage Our Students”

  1. theteachingwhore Says:

    I love the idea of students getting to spend entire days learning something. We have to keep working to break down the outdated and often pointless schedule we force kids into. Thanks for the info.!

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