Attending the recent Engaging Learners through Innovative Practice Conference in Sydney certainly recharged my “education” battery and renewed my pride in Public Education. My first reflection will be on one of the key themes of the conference – Creativity.
I totally LOVED the focus on creativity. Too often lately all the media’s (and others) focus has been on the “basics”, exam results and the MySchool website. Many have written about the real fear that schools will be forced to streamline the curriculum, giving more time to Literacy and Numeracy at the expensive of the “extras” that actually make learning fun (and I am an English teacher!). This is currently happening in many states in America thanks to Obama’s new education bill, or at least in the way many school boards have interpreted its directions.
The conference showcases on Wednesday and Thursday effectively highlighted the enormous potential and value of the creative and performing arts, as well as sport, in a child’s life. The performers and presenters, both at the conference and on video, were outstanding ambassadors for their schools, their art or sport and for public education. The repeated message? Creativity and freedom of expression are vital for students to reach their full potential, including achieving their best in exams.
Being a Drama Teacher, as well as an English Teacher, I certainly see the truth of this every day. The benefits of these types of subjects are immense – self confidence, self reliance, team work, commitment, organisation, responsibility, creativity, dedication, communication skills, pride, collaboration… the list is endless. These subjects, and the skills and values they promote, are the core of what we want our children to achieve through schooling. Aren’t they?
The creativity of those working for the DETNSW from teachers to SEDs was also well and truly on display at the conference. It was evident in the many presentations they delivered (at their own cost and in their own time) and their enthusiastic pursuit of new tools and methods to engage and connect with the students…But more about this in my next post.
So, it was nice to see the leaders of Public Education not only supporting this view but actively encouraging it through this conference. Hopefully, they will remember this when the next lot of NAPLAN results come out and the MySchool website is updated. There is much more to school, and learning, than the 3Rs and without the creative and athletic opportunities on offer in our schools many more would become disengaged in education – and that is just the teachers!