Interview - Bill Lucas

Monday, October 30, 2017

Professor of learning, University of Winchester

Teaching Creative Thinking: Developing learners who generate ideas and can think critically has just been published.

What inspired you and your co-author to write the book?

Understanding creativity has been a focus of what the Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester does for nearly a decade. Five years ago we completed some research in schools, now published by the OECD, which showed creative thinking can be cultivated in the classroom and extra-curricular work.

What is creative thinking and how can it be taught? There is an argument that it is innate.

Creative thinking is a blend of five things: being imaginative (playing with possibilities and making new connections); being inquisitive (wondering, questioning and challenging); showing persistence (tolerating uncertainty and sticking with difficulty); being collaborative (it’s rarely a solo act); and being disciplined (crafting, improving and practising). While it is true that we are all born with many of these attributes, it is a myth that creativity is somehow fixed at birth. In Teaching Creative Thinking, we draw on research from across the world which demonstrates creative thinking is indeed learnable.

What suggestions do you make in the book about how it can be taught to different age ranges? Are the case studies of best practice in schools?

There are many practical ways in which teachers can organise their lessons to embed creative thinking within all subjects of the curriculum. In fact, this is the key point. Creativity does not exist in a vacuum. So, for example, you can learn techniques for questioning: in the early years wondering why an egg falls to the ground; or, at Primary, considering whether your history textbook is really showing the whole picture about Tudor life in England with so much emphasis on kings; or, at secondary, whether the claims made by Wikipedia or Twitter are true or not. We draw on best practices from schools in all sectors from Rooty Hill High School in Australia to Duloe Primary School in Liskeard, Cornwall.

Is there a minimum age that children can be taught creative thinking?

There is no minimum age. In some ways in the early years children are at their least inhibited, untrammelled by the boundaries of subjects which come to be so important later in school life. They see connections adults have stopped noticing and their experiences are typically organised through play. My co-author Ellen Spencer and I often reflect that secondary schools have much to learn from the early years.

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