Creativity in the Classroom
The first in an occasional series of posts by the poet and teacher Dave Lordan about teaching creativity in the classroom to young writers.
Today is my first day at work in my new role as Poetry Consultant with the MA in Poetry Studies at the Mater Dei Institute, a college of Dublin City University.
Basically, my brief is to develop educational resources that will make the teaching, learning, and writing of poetry more accessible, more enjoyable and more educationally relevant and rewarding for students and teachers in the Irish public education system.
This isn’t because I or anyone in the MA in poetry studies believes everyone can or should be a professional writer. We simply believe that everyone has a right to creativity and that creativity can improve and enhance everyone’s educational experience, regardless of their starting point in terms of age, social background, and educational level or history.
I have a lot of experience teaching poetry and creative writing in all kinds of schools, and with people from all sorts of backgrounds. I have seen how anyone, with the right kind of encouragement, can gain in self confidence and communicative power through involvement in a creative classroom. I believe that creativity can play a central role in promoting learner autonomy and thus boost overall educational achievement. Because of this catalytic effect, I believe creativity will be a more and more important part of progressive public education systems in future years.
People, no matter who they are, can flower in language when we allow them to speak their own truths, feelings, beliefs, opinions and dreams. In the creative classroom we must allow people to speak, to write, and to perform all these things and more in their own words and in their own way. This is what I callpersonally authentic expression. Facilitating it is the key aim of my teaching practice.
During my eight months as Poetry Consultant, I will be giving a lot of my time to projects that aim to have some positive impact on literacy levels among disadvantaged student groups. I believe that this will be best done through encouraging personally authentic expression. People will love words more if they can experience just how much words can be made to serve their own expressive needs and desires, and to help them make their mark in their world.
But the creative classroom is not just about individual expression, crucial as that is. It is also about enhancing our capacity for relating to and understanding each other. In pair work, group work and role play we imaginatively take on the identity of others and we practice empathy with them. In the creative classroom individuals also learn to give and to take constructive feedback and criticism. We learn therefore to listen, consider, and advise in a dynamic and high-focus context of evolving creative practices and works. Therefore, classroom creativity is a multidimensional process, drawing upon and synthesizing a complex mixture of intellectual capacities, and boosting critical, social, and communicative faculties in both teachers and learners.
In the next couple of weeks I will be setting up projects in Dublin schools, youth clubs and libraries, and putting these ideas into practice. I will be blogging regularly about my progress and intend a good mixture of theory and practical description in what I write. I think the blog will be of interest to anyone in the education sector.
Please follow the blog here
KATE DEMPSEY runs writing.ie's Poetic License blog and is our poetry guru. She is a writer and a blogger living in Maynooth. She writes fiction and non-fiction as well as poetry and is widely published in Ireland and abroad, in magazines, anthologies and on the radio. She fits this around her family and a full time job, writing on the sofa, on the train and in that little coffeeshop on the corner.
Poetry can be a solitary activity and she appreciates the support she received from the online community, particularly when starting out. She is excited about continuing the dialogue with her blog here.