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CEMP : Mark Readman (OCR Media Conference 2009)

Mark Readman

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CEMP : Mark Readman (OCR Media Conference 2009)

  1. 1. Mark Readman mark@cemp.ac.uk
  2. 2. Making Sense of Creativity •  A work in progress •  A case for engaging critically with the term •  A sense of a future direction for research •  An enquiry into some assessment issues •  The implications of this for A level work •  No easy answers!
  3. 3. Making Sense of Creativity How do you define the term?
  4. 4. Creativity is BIG right now
  5. 5. OCR A level spec
  6. 6. The uncritical embrace of creativity •  Creativity is something unambiguously positive/desirable •  Emotional/intellectual/financial investment in creativity •  Multiple references to creativity in benchmark statements and performance descriptors •  Increasingly enshrined in policy •  Rarely interrogated - reliance on common sense/folk psychology
  7. 7. Typical definitions “Novel associations which are useful” (Isaksen and Treffinger, 1993) “A process needed for problem solving…not a special gift enjoyed by a few but a common ability possessed by most people” (Jones, 1993) “The achieving of tangible products such as works of art or science” (Abra, 1997) “The making of the new and the rearranging of the old” (Bentley, 1997) “Creativity results from the interaction of a system composed of three elements: a culture that contains symbolic rules, a person who brings novelty into the symbolic domain, and a field of experts who recognize and validate the innovation.” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996)
  8. 8. Contradictions Creativity is: Rule breaking/boundary testing yet ‘appropriate’ A function of the unconscious yet the product of rational agency A rarefied form of human production yet any form of human production (exclusive/inclusive) A ‘gift’ yet a ‘burden’ A process yet an outcome A trait yet a state Conceptual yet practical (a kind of knowledge/ a skill set) Potential yet actual Non-commercial yet ‘marketable’
  9. 9. Roberts’ Report: Nurturing Creativity in Young People ‘…creativity is not only related to the arts but to all subjects, including science and maths, and…it should permeate everything children and young people do in, and outside, of school.’ (p67)
  10. 10. Roberts’ Report: Government Response ‘We believe, as QCA makes clear, that: •  Creativity involves thinking or behaving imaginatively; •  This imaginative activity is purposeful: that is, it is directed to achieving an objective; •  These processes must generate something original; •  The outcome must be of value in relation to the objective.’ (p4)
  11. 11. Themes and questions 1.  Is creativity an internal cognitive function, or is it an external social and cultural phenomenon? 2.  Is creativity a pervasive, ubiquitous feature of human activity, or a special faculty, either reserved for particular groups, individuals, or particular domains of activity, in particular artistic activity? 3.  Is creativity an inevitable social good, invariably progressive, harmonious and collaborative; or is it capable of disruption, political critique and dissent, and even anti-social outcomes? 4.  What does the notion of creative teaching and learning imply? Banaji, Burn & Buckingham (2006)
  12. 12. Creativity as ‘a good thing’ OCR A level spec, p51
  13. 13. The pragmatic response •  “Creativity has been defined…as ‘the ability to bring something new into existence’; and this definition will serve our present purpose well enough.” (Anthony Storr) •  “…this particular understanding of creativity involves the physical making of something, leading to some form of communication, expression or revelation. Of course there are other forms, and other kinds, of creativity. But then it gets more fuzzy, and can start to seem meaningless. In this context, going with a ‘common sense’ interpretation of the term is probably as good as any…” (David Gauntlett) •  “We favour a more inclusive notion of creativity that embraces personal creativity used in problem working but the outcome would not change the domain.” (Norman Jackson)
  14. 14. Research tendencies •  Neuroscientific •  Psychoanalytical •  Social/environmental/biographical •  ‘instrumental’ •  Attribution based/social judgment theory
  15. 15. Neuroscience: brain damage = creativity? It is proposed that there are four basic types of creative insights, each mediated by a distinctive neural circuit. By definition, creative insights occur in consciousness. Given the view that the working memory buffer of the prefrontal cortex holds the content of consciousness, each of the four distinctive neural loops terminates there. When creativity is the result of deliberate control, as opposed to spontaneous generation, the prefrontal cortex also instigates the creative process. Both processing modes, deliberate and spontaneous, can guide neural computation in structures that contribute emotional content and in structures that provide cognitive analysis, yielding the four basic types of creativity. (Arne Dietrich)
  16. 16. Attributional/Social Judgment Theory “This finding suggests that having a perceived handicap (such as being unpolished) sometimes leads catchers to judge a pitcher as more creative than individuals who appear more conventional. This phenomenon might be termed the quot;Woody Allen effectquot; after the famously neurotic but talented writer, director, and actor.” Elsbach and Kramer, 2003
  17. 17. Social/Environmental/Biographical
  18. 18. A philosophical problem? •  Creativity tends to be treated as a ‘given’ •  Research tends to ‘work backwards’ •  But the concept under scrutiny is inadequately defined – does not have unproblematic ‘object’ status
  19. 19. A ‘cultural theory’ turning point •  “If we have learnt anything from cultural theory, it is that a term like ‘violence’ cannot simply be a descriptive collection of naturally grouping items. Rather, it is a concept, a category of which we need to ask a number of questions. What is, and isn’t, contained under it - and how are the boundaries of the concept policed against intrusions?” Martin Barker
  20. 20. ‘Creativity works like violence’ •  Both are used to connect rhetorically a range of disparate human activities •  Both are predicated on a concept of ‘human nature’ •  Both are ‘slippery’ and ‘sticky’ – hard to pin down, yet often anchored with the attachment of modifiers (‘gratuitous’/ ‘pure’) •  Both are built around ‘problems’ – how do we make it happen?/how do we stop it? •  Both cling to a priori status, despite empirical complications
  21. 21. Future directions •  Shift away from attempting to define a ‘phenomenon’ •  Analysis of the construction of the concept through academic, popular and public discourses and representations (ideologies of creativity) •  Analysis of historical shifts in the meaning/importance of the concept •  Analysis of language (rhetoric & temporary alliances – talent/genius/art/craft/play) •  Examination of the ideological construction of a ‘creative identity’ (students/practitioners) •  ‘a refusal to operate with the category any longer’?
  22. 22. ‘The creative affordances of technology’ ‘If creativity is not inherent in human mental powers and is, in fact, social and situational, then technological developments may well be linked to advances in the creativity of individual users. This rhetoric covers a range of positions, from those who applaud all technology as inherently improving, to those who welcome it cautiously and see creativity as residing in an, as yet, under- theorised relationship between contexts, users and applications.’ Banaji, Burn & Buckingham (2006)
  23. 23. Representations of creativity
  24. 24. A problematic assessment term ‘Production of an artefact in an appropriate medium which displays creativity and originality to demonstrate your reflection on and exploration of the theoretical concept. In this artefact, and adjunct material, students are able to demonstrate the successful synergy of a theoretical position with contemporary media practice techniques in an original way.’ MA in Creative & Media Education (Practice Unit)
  25. 25. Talk about creativity
  26. 26. Assessing (or not) creativity ‘The musical artefacts represent a considered attempt to discover aspects of creativity through different modes of production and, as such, they constitute a contribution to this debate. There is some originality in this approach and evidence of attempting to problematise the nature of musical production. A level of technical skill necessary to produce coherent, appropriate products is also evident.’ (Mark Readman: assessment of MACME Practice unit)
  27. 27. Human judgments ‘There is no absolute judgment. All judgments are comparisons of one thing with another.’ (Donald Laming)
  28. 28. Assessment ‘We cannot assess learning on its own, we can only assess learning plus its form of representation.’ (Jenny Moon)
  29. 29. What is this assessment for?
  30. 30. Learning Outcomes?
  31. 31. Grading Criteria? ‘For a great song...you need a great chorus, you need a great voice singing it and then I think you need to be original with the instrumentation, the arrangement. You just need to give people something different.’ James Oldham
  32. 32. Assessment
  33. 33. A category which needs to be addressed OCR A level spec, p35
  34. 34. A pragmatic approach •  Acknowledge that assessment may not assess what we think it assesses •  Strive for transparency in what is being assessed •  Consider difference between ‘knowledge object’ and ‘art object’ •  Strive for a fit between objectives and criteria •  Identify implicit ‘assessment constructs’, particularly with ‘creative work’ •  Encourage students to engage with the construction of the term, rather than accept it as a given
  35. 35. Mark Readman mark@cemp.ac.uk