SUMMARIES OF KEYNOTE PAPERS AND WORKSHOPS
Monday 8 January
Creating conformity: Universities in the twenty-first century
The 'new' higher education of the twenty-first century is apparently more inclusive; but at the same time it is more bureaucratic than previous models and far closer to state agendas. In this context two questions need to be asked: What is the point of universities? And: Do they currently stultify, rather than enhance, creativity? Mary Evans tackles these issues with specific reference to universities in England, but offers lessons for us all.
Creativity: what is it for?
As well as asking how we can help students think more creatively, we also need to think about why we want them to do so. Creative thinking techniques are highly effective; however they may be used equally to innovate and make the world a better place or to enable others to destroy our planet, kill one another, or increase the gap between rich and poor. The presentation will summarise Caroline Baillies work in enhancing students and teachers creativity and will present some of the most effective strategies that promote very different ways of thinking. It will do so in the light of her current work on promoting social justice.
Empowering teams with imagineering
The workshop will demonstrate a very powerful tool to create respectful engagement between group members. The tool is used to reach an understanding of individual members core values and create a symbol that unifies the most important values carried by the group as a whole. The workshop will offer an opportunity to practice techniques and in the end will explain how the tool can be used in our daily work.
Creative Problem Solving - Methods & Madness!
'Methods' refer to a framework that is non-subject specific. It can be used to tackle problems and bring in creative solutions in a structured way. 'Madness' refers to the pitfalls in creative thinking approaches, whereby great solutions are found to the wrong problems and inaction often follows good ideas. It also refers to wackiness and ways of identifying it.
Tuesday 9 January
Creativity: Society, the Brain and Education
Western society is increasingly dependent upon a creative workforce for economic survival. Governments recognise this and have established organisations like NESTA to promote creativity. What else should we do? Russell Foster will explore how we might respond to an increasingly 24/7 society in which the creative potential of individuals is under threat. He will look at the damaging division between the sciences and the arts, and the way it is promoted by education at all levels. Artists and scientists may use different languages but they share a common passion and creativity to understand and describe our world. A recent education project combined the teaching of evolution and music and explored the theme of Identity to young children. The creative potential of this project will be described and the value of such approaches in education considered.
A View from the Outside
Creative thinking aspires amongst other things to bridge discontinuities or gaps wherever they may be identified and in whatever form they may take. Two enduring discontinuities in terms of students' expectations in the education system in the UK are in the transition from secondary to higher education and from higher education to employment. In the latter as higher education aspires to deliberately nurture creativity in both teaching and learning as business and commerce have done in recent years, interesting opportunities arise for better matching the skills of graduates to the workplace. This could also be an opportunity for a broader dialogue between higher education and employers with creativity as the common ground.
The correlation between intelligence and creativity is a weak one and creative ability was traditionally assumed in students to enable them to make the best of their education. This assumption was also often made on taking up employment where exam results were the prime indicator for matching the person to the job. If creativity was nurtured in both instances it was either indirectly through project work or incidentally through personal motivation. However traces of the deliberate nurturing of creativity through the deployment of tools, techniques and problem-solving processes in the corporate, statutory and voluntary sectors can be identified as far back as the 1920's. Efforts in this endeavour were somewhat intensified from the 1950's when the term 'Brain-storming' was first coined by Alex Osborn and described in his book 'Applied Imagination.' Driven by accelerated change in the work-place, the last decade has seen an unprecedented growth in what could now be called the 'business of creativity' in these sectors.
Major international conferences in creativity take place annually in the USA, Canada, Europe and South Africa to cater to the growing needs of business, commerce, education and individual development. Many of the tools, techniques and methods demonstrated at these conferences could be invaluable in supporting the aims of higher education to place more emphasis on creativity and to help bridge the aforementioned gap from education to employment. To this end this presentation will aim to review some of the recent developments described in these creativity conferences from three continents.
Fred Buining and Kevin Byron workshops: see above
Wednesday 10 January
Making Creative Leadership the Centrepiece of Higher Education
Is it possible to design an entire school in terms of enhancing the creative leadership of its students? As Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Robert Sternbergs primary mission is to reshape the entire educational process so that creative leadership becomes its centrepiece. The purpose of higher education is to produce tomorrow's leaders. Yet we often teach as though its purpose is to produce walking encyclopaedias. At Tufts, all are working together to change the cornerstones of the organization, the admissions process, the instructional process and the assessment process, in order to optimize education for leadership. In this talk, Professor Sternberg will describe what they are doing, why they are doing it, how they are doing it, and their results so far.