English teachers Cameron Atkinson and Amanda Lazar explored such questions in a fascinating recent project amongst Year 7 boys at The Scots College, as part of their candidature in the Masters of Education (Educational Management and Leadership) program co-developed by The Scots College and The University of Sydney. Applying the principles of 'action learning' which informs the Brave Hearts Bold Minds philosophy, they conducted a five-week multi-layered teaching and learning module in which boys and teachers reflected on their understandings of creativity and engaged in learning activities that sought to inspire inventiveness in the classroom. Teachers stepped back from providing detailed scaffolds and operated more as coaches, encouraging the students, in their words, 'to think on our own, or work as a team'.
They made some intriguing findings. Creativity is risky business. It's imaginative, it's often fairly abstract, and it's generally more about a complex process than a simple result. Consequently, boys can quickly disengage from activities labelled 'creative', fearing they might 'get it wrong' and jeopardise their grades. That said, teachers can still help boys be richly creative in their work, surpassing their own expectations. The key to encouraging student creativity across a range of learning outcomes is the cultivation of 'a classroom environment where students feel valued and respected together with the programming of engaging and kinesthetic learning activities that allow students a degree of autonomy'.