How we work on students' creative thinking at O Castro British International School
Having overcome the traditional dichotomy between “creative thinking” and “critical thinking”, there seems to be a clear consensus in the educational community regarding the need to combine creativity and critical thinking in order to get students to “think better in any area of knowledge”. In this sense, and after decades of training students in critical thinking, teaching our students to think different is one of the great educational challenges of today.
Creativity and multiple intelligences: a perfectly matched pairing
We start from the premise that creativity must be understood as a type of thinking. Therefore, and although it has traditionally been linked to the construction of plastic products, we must bear in mind that creative construction has a double manifestation. On the one hand, we can talk about products, but it also refers to mental actions. That is to say, one can be creative in the design or elaboration of a theory. Therefore, it is important to look at creative construction from both perspectives.
Logically, the creative construction must have the following characteristics:
– The creative product must be something new.
– It must be a contribution or an achievement.
– It must serve to satisfy some kind of need, which obviously can be of different kinds (subsistence, health, expression, relationship, etc…).
Moreover, we now know that it is possible to be creative in different areas. Based on the theory of multiple intelligences, we can say that there are people who are creative in the use of words, such as writers, for example, and there are people who are creative in the use of mathematical elements and can develop some kind of mathematical theory or look for a mathematical solution to a problem in life. One can also be creative in the use of body language, in the field of music and, of course, also in the field of plastic arts… And so we could go on to the eight types of intelligences that we have.
Therefore, creative thinking can manifest itself very differently in different people. This is something we should not associate only to the part of plastic creation. Creativity understood as a holistic and global element of human intelligence.
Creativity can be learned, trained and educated.
María Pacheco Ruíz is an expert in multiple intelligences and thought construction methodology. Today we talked to her about creativity in the school environment.
A fundamental aspect,” explains María, “is that if the right stimuli and resources are provided, creativity can be developed. The idea that ‘creativity is either born with it or it isn’t’ is not true today. It is true that there is a part of genetic endowment, a certain predisposition, as happens in all areas of human development. But afterwards, it all depends on the stimulation that is given to it. Therefore, it is important to stimulate it and it is also fundamental to select the appropriate resources so that this can take place”.
How it is reflected in the classroom
“When working on creative thinking, we must work on five fundamental aspects: curiosity, fluency, flexibility, analysis and synthesis and perfection” – Pacheco introduces us. Next, and in relation to these five pillars of creative thinking, our expert gives us some guidelines and tips on how to work on divergent thinking with ESO students.
Firstly, it is important to work in class with activities that awaken their curiosity and sensitivity to grasp everything that surrounds them. This is one of the main objectives at O Castro British International School, where the teacher’s own model, with teaching experience in the UK, encourages and motivates pupils. This translates into an eagerness to learn, curiosity, motivation to discover new things, aspects which are reflected every day in the attitude of the educator himself.
Next, we must look for activities that require fluid thinking or, in other words, activities that require them to think in different ways. Didactic proposals that force them to approach the same issue from different points of view. Strategies that lead them to look for very different ideas, and essential in the National Curriculum, which ends with public examinations in Year 11.
It is also important to provide very flexible situations in terms of the range of languages pupils can use, for example. They should be encouraged and taught to use musical language, plastic, body movement….
In addition, thinking related to analysis and synthesis should be deepened. For this purpose, many thinking techniques that deepen these two processes work very well, for example: “compare and contrast”, “the parts and the whole” or “I see, I think and I wonder”, among many others.
Finally, and this is an indispensable quality within creative thinking, the search for perfection must be worked on with the pupils. This is understood as the fact of reaching what one wanted to reach when starting a project. The example that is always given for all of us to understand is that of the painting of a great painter, a successful painting, where we can always see all the sketches that lie underneath multiple mistakes. We see that behind success there is always work, work and more work.
It cannot be obvious therefore that educating in creative thinking is undoubtedly one of the greatest challenges in education today. Will you join us?