One of the foundation goals of Manaiakalani is to
"Motivate our learners to engage with the curriculum"
and a significant driver for engagement has been our intentional use of modern technologies to enable creativity to play a significant part in learning and teaching opportunities.
Since the beginning of the Manaiakalani programme our teachers have been exploring how to increase opportunities for our learners to be creative - and this often means physically moving, making and doing - both individually and collaboratively. Our evidence confirms that Creativity is a significant hook into learning and we need to be empowering our young people to develop this.
One of the proponents of creativity who has impacted teachers across the globe is Sir Ken Robinson. There are few who would not find his talks entertaining, but implementing the ideas he discusses can seemed daunting to teachers constrained by a 9-3 school day, timetabling and testing/assessment. His suggestion that Dance should be a daily event seems beyond the realms of possibility.
Our digital learning environments, which remove the time constraints of traditional classrooms, allow increased opportunity for our learners to be creative. We are talking about creativity in traditional forms (song, dance, art, culture etc) and using digital technologies (MakerSpace, digital art and design, movie making, animation, coding, etc). And whatever medium a child uses to express their creativity, the affordances of the technology mean that this can be capture digitally and shared with a wide audience.
We talk about creativity being an element of the Manaiakalani pedagogy, a component of the learning cycle. And often this is where it sits; Learning activities occur, the learner creates something to demonstrate this learning (process, activity, knowledge building etc) and then shares it with a wider audience. This almost linear framework can be a comfortable starting place for teachers who have little experience or are hesitant about 'letting go' and empowering children.
We believe, and our researchers concur, that significant learning and cognitive engagement occurs when our young people 'Create to Learn'. They begin with creativity and the learning emerges from there. Sir Ken, in this interview, uses the example of his home town band, the Beatles, and his belief that when they first started out they only knew three chords and their musical knowledge and learning exploded as they were involved in the creative process.
This thinking around 'Create to Learn' is where our experienced and confident teachers are focusing their attention. We have adopted the SAMR model as a shared framework across our cluster of schools, and have been interested to note that teachers who are focusing on cognitive engagement and 'Create to Learn' are automatically working above the line on the SAMR ladder. It promotes modification and redefinition in digital learning environments.
We have much to learn and are interested in what our colleagues around the country and the world are doing in this space.