Juggling identities: the complexities of, and the energy required in, being a creative educator

Year: 2013

Author: Selkrig, Mark (Ron), Keamy, Kim

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The need to engage students through creative pedagogies-teaching creatively and teaching for creativity-are often cited as imperatives for educators in the current epoch.  Creativity can be found in almost all school curricula, although it is more frequently spoken about in subjects like art or music.  Initiatives in various parts of the world have encouraged artists/ creative practitioners to work within schools and led to improved students' outcomes in a range of spheres.  Evidence suggests, however, that there can still be poor knowledge of what constitutes creativity and that ‘creativity' and ‘creative skills' appear to be complex concepts for students, teachers and arts professionals to discuss".  Our paper is based on data from a pilot study where we explored how teachers of arts education, and the leadership team in a particular school, described and understood creativity, creative learning and arts learning.  We focus particularly on the findings from a group of middle years arts teachers, who, while not necessarily being concerned about having a shared language about creativity, all spoke about being prepared to take risks and engage in teacher-led and student-initiated tasks that were challenging, inquiry driven, exploratory in nature,  and open-ended and stimulating for themselves and their students. Seeing children succeed in the arts and participating in authentic tasks were examples of creative learning that these educators described as making their jobs worthwhile.  For these ‘creative' educators, rather than exploring what creativity might be, they spoke about the challenges they faced in sustaining their pedagogical approaches, and in particular, the intensity and exhaustive nature of the way they went about their work.  The majority of the arts teachers worked in a part-time capacity, which allowed them to also continue their arts practice. Having time away from the school each week was beneficial for these educators as it provided a break from the concentration on their teaching work, and enabled them to be creative in their own field even when this meant intense high pressure situations such as performing or recording music. We conclude that it is necessary for these educators to adopt a hybridized professional status which, in turn, allows them to teach for creativity, as well as teach creatively.