Natalya Starynska: Some People Do Incredible Things And Still Believe They Lack Creativity

As part of our special project Creativity in Education the co-founder of a teaching and educational community GoHigher and the first ever Creative Campus in Ukraine explains how to inspire teachers to become the agents of change in their universities.

The role of creativity in education

I am not sure where we got it, but there is an old-standing belief that all people can be split into two groups: creative and non-creative ones. And the creative ones are definitely the minority. With this, some people do incredible things and still believe they lack creativity. For instance, I know a chemistry teacher who is developing together with her students new ways to deliver drugs into the human cells. For me personally – this is rocket science, the creativity in its purest form. However, still she genuinely believes that she is not creative person. And this is not uncommon. In reality every person has his/her own creative potential that reveals itself in a unique way and in the area of this person's interests.

Creativity can and should be boosted

If you consider creativity a capacity present in every single person, then evidently, it could be developed as any other capacity. It is similar to exercising: you should not try and do everything at once, you just exercise it, regularly, step by step, and very soon you will see the results. For example, it would be quite enough to tackle some small task every day in a different way, finding alternative approaches to one and the same routine task – you will literally see your creativity developing in action.

Creativity and business

There is always place for creativity in business. Apart from creative business as a separate type of business, there are also creative approaches to seemingly non-creative whatsoever business connected with finances and legal specifics. Take service as an example, that helps its users with their business accounting online, or new business models like Uber. These are perfect examples of a brand new and creative approach to usual things.

Creative Campus: what is it for and who is its target audience?

There is no being non-creative, especially in teaching, as fundamentally this process is extremely artistic and creative! Nataliia Ivanova, the author of Creative thinking course run in Kyiv Mohyla Academy, says that most teachers consider themselves to be non-creative people. Moreover, they are absolutely convinced that their students on the contrary are far more creative and that is why they are growing even more shy because of their believed lack of creativity.

At GoHigher we decided to change this way of things and set out three tasks:

- To help teachers develop their students' competences;
- To do away with the stereotype belief that there are non-creative people out there;
- To prove that a teacher's task is not to be more creative than his/her students, but rather create an atmosphere where students could unleash their creativity and generate ideas without any restrictions or limitations.

That is how the British Council-supported programme "Competence-based approach in learning and teaching" came to be. Creative Campus is the first 4-day programme event for teachers, where they will be equipped with tools to let them develop and evaluate their students' creativity. Thus, from one hand, the course will raise teachers' competences, and from the other hand, it will let them have a look at creativity as a quality that can and should be developed.

We are planning to work with creative thinking competence followed by the closely interlinked critical thinking competence. Teachers will learn about the tools to build creative atmosphere in the audience, to build up creativity in students and to evaluate it throughout the course. We are working at the course curricula with our partners – British Council, Pearson, Dinternal Education and Ukrainian Institute of the Future – trying for it to be as diverse and holistic at the same time as possible. Creative Campus is for active teachers who aspire to develop their creative students but do not know the ways to do it. Our course will be built upon practical blocks with assignments so that the teachers will not only know in theory the tools, but will learn in practice how to apply them when working with students.

Support from the Ministry of Education

With Creative Campus we want to support creative teachers as we do understand that it is by no means easy to be in this profession. Today teaching is quite a demanding position considering all those high requirements and demands from university administrations, Ministry, students and their parents – with no support rendered from anybody whatsoever. That is why we hope for the Creative Campus and GoHigher with time to get the status of official further education courses for teachers and to turn into the real source of support, resource base and community for teachers at the same time. We are happy to see our initiative supported by the Ministry and looking forward for this to become an impetus for the creation of courses for further education with other universities as a base as well. The more there are courses for further education and teachers' competence building of this kind – the better. The cooperation with the Ministry of Education is an important indicator that reforms in the field of education are in high demand, are supported and gradually, step by step, the system and people therein are changing.

Audience feedback

Creative Campus is planned for 60 people. The first preregistration week got us 120 applications and this is the proof that such course is indeed is in high demand. This also means that we will have to do some sort of selection now, as physically we are able to cover only 60 people for this course. The preregistration further revealed one more problem: part of the teachers willing to go with the course will not be able to do it due to the lack of the required English speaking skills.

Plans for the future 

Just like I said before, Creative Campus is an integral part of our wider programme for teachers' professional development "Competence-based approach in learning and teaching". This is a 2-year programme with a new campus organised every half a year. Further on, we are planning to have additional events and conferences for teachers who participate in the programme. As one more task the programme tries to achieve is to create a community for teachers where they would be able to share their experience, know-hows, challenges and achievements. We want to inspire teachers with this programme to become the agents of change in their universities. Because all big changes are starting with baby steps: to undergo an interesting course for further education, to use the gained new knowledge and tools in your own course, to share your results, challenges and achievements with your colleagues in your department, then with colleagues from other universities,to show and prove others that it is normal, more than correct and interesting to change, develop and grow. 



For this special project, we have just as special partners to go this journey with: the learning and teaching community GoHigher, British Council UkrainePearson and Dinternal Education within the framework of the Creative Campus for university teachers.
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