Following on from a tremendous lecture delivered by Rob Bennett earlier this week, I was inspired to blog about the theme discussed of creativity and risk-taking and how teachers can facilitate this. This is an issue that is sadly seen as being suppressed by the National Curriculum as a result of the emphasis on testing preparation and teachers feeling under pressure to get through content. Consequently dull, transmissive and uninspiring lessons are delivered which restrict children’s scope to discover through problem solving, as well as prevent them from utilizing hidden talents and skills.
Instead, more effective pedagogy shows awareness of children’s elements, which is defined as the point at which natural talent (aptitude) meets personal passion for a skill. These are the features of a child being in their element and to take advantage elements should be jointly exploited by the child and teacher, consisting of opportunities to demonstrate their skills and improve them. An example is a child being given time to harness a particular sporting or musical talent, which is unlikely to occur if Literacy and Maths are always defaulted to by teachers and children are not given opportunities to problem solve via use of their elemental skill.
Regrettably, children’s hidden special talents remain hidden because of uninspiring curriculum coverage. This is where the conditions of children being in their element apply: attitude and opportunity. The attitude can be determined as the teacher’s willingness to embrace uncertainty with the direction a lesson will take, knowing that it could open up a new path of creativity as a result of children’s elements being discovered. The opportunity is the priority they give to doing this, as well as allowing children to find their own element. This is the perfect tonic for children who put themselves down regularly due to standard, common subjects being a weakness. Through discovering children’s elements they can be guided to reach their full potential and it is essential teachers make every effort to understand their children’s strengths to achieve this.