Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ranking Teachers In Ability to Teach Creativity

Over the years, many educators have talked about including in the Korean school system more educational programs that stress the importance of creativity.  The guest columnist in the Catholic Times, a college professor, thinks the reason for the talk reflects the desire of many to enhance the capabilities of our society to compete on the world stage. The old system, stressing memorization and the ability to express oneself, will become less important as more effort is placed on providing a nurturing atmosphere for creative expression.

He feels that the decision to judge all teachers--in grammar, middle, and high school--on their aptitude to teach creativity will be no easy task. Society is not prepared for this change, and time will be necessary.

All know that the Korean educational system, with its primary focus on memorization and personal expression, has not valued critical thinking or cultivated creativity but aimed at getting students into first-class colleges. And teachers were praised for how well they presented textbook learning to students, knowing the text,and get good grades. The present teachers have  gone through the same system; it's the only one they know. To judge them now on their ability to foster creativity, having been trained for instilling practical and technical knowledge rather than creativity, may be an unreasonable expectation.

When we selected teachers in the past, we were looking for those who had a reservoir of special knowledge and not those who had creative ability. If we are going to switch to this new approach, the professor feels that planning for the change is necessary, allowing for a great deal of time to make the transition. With the time that is required from an overworked staff to implement the changes, no less than a superhuman effort will be necessary

And judging what is required can be done only after a careful study of what creativity training means in a classroom setting. We also need to know what society thinks of this new teaching approach and how teachers can be sure they are following rigorous and practical guidelines for creative treaching.  Otherwise this talk will consist only of empty words.

Speaking plainly, the professor said that there is not a lot of material that even the scholars in the field agree on.Since we don't know much about what is required in this new way of teaching, it's going to be difficult to judge fairly who is doing a good job.There is always the danger of killing the very creativity we are trying to foster when we start ranking teachers, schools, and districts. Judging them on their creativity training is going to be difficult.

Four great teachers: Jesus, Confucius, Socrates and Siddhartha have been mentioned as examplars of creative teaching. How would we go about grading them for their teaching ability? the professor asks. He thinks it may be arrogant on his part to ask, but believes the question is no less difficult to answer when applied to our teachers, our schools and our district. 

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