Thursday, February 14, 2013

R. Keith Sawyer - Creative Teaching for the 21st Century

Creative Teaching for the 21st Century
Learning & the Brain Conference February 2013
R. Keith Sawyer, PhD
Washington University, St. Louis / Atari

Newsweek: Creativity in America
BusinessWeek: The Innovation Economy

The Challenge: There's some concern that we're not creating the creative graduates that we need

Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative (report from the Business Round Table) July 2005
Innovate America (report from Council on Competitiveness)
Rising Above the Gathering Storm

According to these reports, we need:
- Better K-12 education
- Increased Higher Education quality and funding
- Increased R&D funding
- Intellectual property protection and tax credits
The focus of all of these reports is on improved education
Missing: an understanding of how innovation works, how people learn for creativity, and how to redesign schools


Broadly accepted view that creativity is the lone genius having the lightbulb flash of insight
But in reality, there's always a story of collaboration behind innovation - Group Genius (his book)

A lot of books talking about how the Internet is bringing us into a new era of collective intelligence (e.g., Infotopia, Democratizing Innovation, Wikinomics, The Wisdom of Crowds)
Model of producers and consumers as separate entities is no longer accurate. Web 2.0 is blurring the boundaries.
Most creativity studies have focused on what's going on in an individual's mind. But examining collaborative creativity allows us to explore how the sum of the parts can be more than the whole. (e.g., improv jazz or theater troupes)

The Creative Classroom (book Structure and Improvisation in Creative Teaching)
- The core is collaborative conversation,
- where the classroom flow is improvisational:
- Teacher and students build knowledge together, and
- unexpected insights emerge.
*I have really been trying to do this this semester, and my classes have come to some extraordinary insights that I have never thought of before, but I also worry that I'm not channeling and guiding them sufficiently to prepare them in the curriculum as well as I need to.

What we shouldn't do: Instructionism (Seymour Papert)
- Knowledge is a collection of static facts and procedures
- The goal of schooling is to get these facts and procedures into students' heads
- Teachers know these facts and procedures; their job is to transmit them (transmission and aquisition model)
- Curriculum: Simple facts and procedures should be learned first
- Assessment: To evaluate learning, assess how many facts and procedures have been acquired
Where's the creative learning? Problems with Instructionism:
- The knowledge acquired is relatively superficial
- Retention is low
- Transfer to new situations is weak
- Ability to integrate knowledge is weak
- Ability to work adaptively with knowledge is weak

Creative learning
- Knowledge: Deeper conceptual understanding
- The goal of schooling: Prepare students to build new knowledge
- Teachers: Scaffold and facilitate collaborative knowledge building
- Curriculum: Integrated and contextualized knowledge
- Assessment: Formative and authentic
Sawyer, 2006, Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences

Fundamentally opposed to Instructionism Active Learning - Students work with, and use, facts/skills/concepts as they solve complex real-world problems (learning facts and procedures in context) - Students work in collaborative teams because the tasks are demanding (authentic need for collaboration, not just for the hell of it) - The professor guides and supports students as they work on their projects and problems This is the kind of learning environment you need if you want creative output/learning The Key Components - Start with a problem or design challenge - Students explore the problem through inquiry and discussion - Students work to find solutions - The process must be guided by the instructor - Students create tangible products that address the problem (there is more and more lit proving that externalizing learning through the creation of products (design thinking) improves learning and retention - Prototypes and sub-tasks are required elements Four Challenges for Instructors 1. Identifying a good problem or design challenge (within ZPD, closely connected to core) 2. Helping students learn actively 3. Fostering effective collaboration 4. Supporting the creation of shared artifacts and effective critiques The Vision is Taking Shape InvenTeams (Lemelson-MIT) (Excite, Empower, Encourage) Camp Invention Wireless Handhelds - he showed a really cool software in which teacher can track which students are working with whom and what they're working on, but didn't mention the name Integrated Teaching and Learning Laboratory, UC Boulder No lecture halls, just spaces for kids to get together and work collaboratively How do we get there? Myth: The flash of insight, Reality: Emergence over time Myth: Straight path to success, Reality: Multiple dead ends Myth: The lone genius, Reality: Small ideas from many people Tapping the Creativity of Teachers In innovative organizations, professionals: - Continually learn - Work collaboratively - Engage in 'mutual tinkering' where small sparks add up to big ideas - Change teams, assignments, and organizations frequently (not as much in education, but...) The Take-Home Message -Creativity is more important to our students and our society than at any time in history. - Recent research shows... Bah! He went fast and then blanked the screen! No silver bullet that's going to change the face of schooling. It's what we have to do collaboratively to create the creative schools of the future.

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