Creativity and reflective practices: Experience living in intercultural worlds

Year: 2017

Author: Wade-Leeuwen, Bronwen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the tensions between the lack of government funding for the arts in Australia; current educational policies that support standardised and predictable outcomes and the benefits of working collaboratively with intercultural communities. Creativity is complex, multi-faceted and widely accepted as contributing a significant outcome for schooling in Australia. However, effective teacher education programs are rarely sustained in fostering creativity, imagination and innovation in higher education. Consideration is given in this study to the promoters and inhibitors of high levels of creativity particularly, as identified by pre-service teachers who contributed to a qualitative study at a Sydney-based university.

The final fourth-year pre-service teachers who participated in the study, had, between them, experienced a variety of arts-based training. Few believed that the higher education learning context encouraged new knowledge, twenty-first century skills, intercultural values and diverse experiences needed to foster their own creativity, rather they expressed ongoing inhibitions and lack of confidence to teach the arts creatively to children.

Wade-Leeuwen's (2016) research focuses on moments of "awkwardness" observed when pre-service teachers are called upon to teach and learn new approaches in the curriculum (ACARA, 2014). The research identifies 5'Rs as critical dispositions: resilience, reflexive, responsive, ready-to-learn and research-engaged working collaboratively with teacher's creative capacities by opening minds towards doing things differently. For example, during the creative process, happy accidents are continually experienced through a "spirit of play" and collaborative engagement.

Drawing on these findings the author argues that current models of studio-practice in teacher education programs are not paying sufficient attention to the complexities, multifaceted layers of creativity, which can be achieved when sustainable pedagogical practices are reinforced. The researcher presents a model of creativity in which policy-makers; teacher mentors, program facilitators and pre-service teachers can visualise, understand and experience the five dimensional levels of creativity in a dynamic sustainable process. The study investigates the ways in which pre-service teachers interpret creativity and find deeper meaningful relationships through intercultural arts-based inquiry practices that provoke the learner, to want to move beyond what was known towards more unfamiliar spaces.

In order to meet the diverse needs of 21st-century learners, pre-service teachers should be encouraged to develop new artistic pedagogies that support and nurture their own creativity, imagination and innovation. Unless policymakers, educators and parents can find clear connections between creativity and learning, barriers in the classroom context will be likely to continue.