What makes a good school? – An interview with Paul Collard, Chief Executive at Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) – The International Foundation for Creative Learning

A few days ago I had the chance to speak with Paul Collard via Skype about schools, education and the importance of creativity for the learning process. This blog post epitomizes his enlightening answers.

Hello Paul, let’s start with a big question: What makes a good school?

A few years ago I met the Minister of Education from Latvia and we showed her different schools in England and just before she was leaving she told me that what impressed her is that we allow schools to become the best possible school they could be.

And this is the characteristic of great education. There isn’t a good school – the good schools are the best schools they could be, which means that they make the most of the students, teachers and resources they have – realizing the full potential they have got.

So, what you have to ask yourself everyday is: are we the best school we could possibly be?

What skills should schools focus on developing in students?

First of all, the pupils today are completely different from the pupils 150 years ago.

In earlier days, especially in rural areas, students went to school to get knowledge, because school was the only place you could get knowledge.

There was no television, no radio, no libraries, no books, nothing. People worked on the field and went to school to get basic knowledge.

Today however, it is not about knowledge anymore. Pupils arrive at school with their minds stuffed full of knowledge and their problem is they don’t know what to do with it. They can’t handle it, they can’t tell the difference between good knowledge and bad knowledge and all we do in school is to put more knowledge in their heads.

What we rather should do is to focus on the skills they need to interpret knowledge or to be enabled to put pieces of knowledge together in order to create new things.

A while ago, we did an exercise with pupils in England and we asked them to write down ideas for a new educational system. And many pupils came up with a simple question: Why can’t schools accredit the knowledge we have from outside school.

Could you explain the relevance of creativity for learning?

First of all you, have to decide what you mean by creativity. We define creativity as being imaginative, collaborative, disciplined, resilient and curious and we believe that these are a set of interlinked skills and that creativity is a metacognitive process which enables you to switch between those at the appropriate moment.

So we started from this definition of creativity and we then developed ways for implementing concepts in schools where young people were able to explore, strengthen and develop their creative skills.

When we did that we found that their performance at school got better. They were better in tests and behaviour and there was in general more discipline, focus, motivation and engagement.

We then did a lot of research to find out why this did happen. And the answer that we found was that these creative skills are at the heart of learning, they are indeed the building blocks of effective learning.

How do you estimate the potential of digital media / the internet for the classroom?

I think that it has potential, but mostly it’s not being used effectively, because most digital media in the classroom is used to replicate traditional learning techniques.

Students from Hamburg that I once asked if they use digital media for learning told me that if their teacher introduces a new concept let’s say in Math and they get a homework, they look it up online and always find a video of a teacher who is really good at explaining it and they watch the video, understand the concept, do the homework and their teacher in school is happy because he thinks he has taught them something.

So I think it is really great that there are many videos online that replicate traditional learning in a good way, but really I think the potential is in fundamentally different ways of using digital media. And I think we have just started to explore the possibilities.

We did a project with young teenager about the rainforest. The teacher asked us for help because the pupils were not learning about the rainforest since they were bored and not interested in the topic. So what we did was we took the kids once a week to a local company that professionally produced learning software and we asked the students to create digital learning material which explains the rainforest to pupils their age. And they created all kinds of digital learning material, like websites and interactive games that made the rainforest come to life and that were really engaging.

Well, in order to make those materials, you need to learn everything about the rainforest, but the children didn’t even notice they were learning about the rainforest, because they were having so much fun designing all those learning materials.

So digital technology allows us to envision a completely different understanding of the role of a teacher.

You travel a lot: which is the best national educational system in your opinion and why?

I find it very difficult to say which educational system is the best since different educational systems have different values. And some values I like more than others.

But nearly all the systems have big problems in them.

I think it is really interesting what is going on in Scotland and Wales. In both countries they have introduced new curricula which have a different attitude towards children and success in school, but I think they are having difficulties implementing them.

It’s easier to talk about good schools and not so good schools and it’s much harder to talk about good educational systems and not so good educational systems.

Thanks a lot Paul for this conversation! Bye Bye.

Lovely to talk to you. Bye.

***

Paul Collard

Paul Collard

Chief Executive of the international foundation ‘Creativity, Culture & Education’ (CCE) responsible for designing and delivering programmes that unlock and develop the creativity of children and young people. CCE was responsible for designing Creative Partnerships, which operated in England from 2002 to 2011 with an annual budget of €50 million. During that time it delivered programmes in 5000 schools. The success and impact of the programme attracted considerable attention and CCE now supports the delivery of programmes modelled on Creative Partnerships across a wide range of European countries including Norway, Lithuania, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary and also in Pakistan and has programmes under development around the world.

Most recently, CCE advised the Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Government on the development, launch and delivery of a £20 million Creative Learning Through the Arts programme which will begin work in Welsh schools in September 2015. In addition, CCE has been working with the BKJ and Stiftung Mercator on a project designed to identify how the impact and reach of creative and cultural education can be improved so that more children and young people benefit from high quality cultural programmes.

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Eine Antwort zu What makes a good school? – An interview with Paul Collard, Chief Executive at Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) – The International Foundation for Creative Learning

  1. Pingback: What makes a good School?  | Teaching MFL today_ Fremdsprachenunterricht heute

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