On Creativity and Control

Schools are dangerous places. Like any institution, the sausage-factory factor kicks in, and soon enough and we become compliant, organised and efficient teachers who “cater for all students” and “meet their learning needs.”

Some of us may adopt other approaches, with words to describe them like rhapsodic, capricious, innovative or improvisatory springing to mind. While not entirely a separate camp, such teachers often eschew the same “good teacher” benchmarks of the compliant camp. They may miss duties, neglect lesson plans or programs, routinely forget important details or perhaps just pay lip service to the dominant discourses floating around staff meetings and lunchrooms.

Some days I despair that promotion in schools seems much more about compliance and much less about creativity and innovation. After all, is it not the leader’s job to organise, delegate and control the innovation of others along nicely laid-out party lines? Really good teachers – creative teachers – are then easily pigeon-holed and rolled out when needed. But real power always seems to remain in the hands of those who would much rather control than create. The bitter irony is that our very promotion often serves to make us more controlling – whereby we impose our version of creativity on others – which is just another form of control, is it not?

Technology seems to be a fine case in point. How often does teaching the teacher how to use technology simply become a process of ‘do what I do?‘ How often do we really teach to empower? The real question behind using technology to “empower learners” is whether or not that process is genuine. If we really empower someone – a student, teacher, parent, colleague or whoever – then teach them to understand and appreciate that while it takes efficiency and organisation to work in a school, it takes creativity, innovation and passion to be a teacher.

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About Michael

Cellist, singer/songwriter, school teacher, nerd, recent scooter enthusiast and failed philosopher.
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