Thursday, November 15, 2007

Passion and Creativity

One of the books I took across with me to Melbourne a month or so ago was Howard Gardner’s new book, Five Minds for the Future. I started reading it on the plane and by the time I got to the second page , I found that it mirrored the same thoughts I had put together for the CPIT Spring graduation keynote held at the end of September.

In my speech, I spoke about the importance of passion. Passion has been a defining factor in my research with young apprentices who have fallen into the trade and are now all working hard to become bakers. I advised all the graduates to work at:-

  • gaining and maintaining passion for their content area,
  • maintaining a passion for life-long learning,
  • staying passionate about people,
  • fostering a passion for their profession and
  • most importantly, work on sustaining a passion for goodness.

The five minds Gardner required to enhance creativity are

  • the ability to be expert in a discipline,
  • to have a wide spectrum of knowledge in order to synthesise other fields of knowledge with ones own discipline,
  • to be able to create new forms of knowledge, innovate new ways to do things,
  • be respectful of others and
  • to behave ethically.

The above has triggered some thoughts on whether the students I teach are actually being prepared for the future.

  • Are we igniting passion sufficiently for them to move on to gain enough motivation to work at becoming expert in their discipline (Gardner reckons it takes ten years for an individual to work up to true expert hood)?
  • Do we model that we, as teachers and tradespersons, have an abiding love for life long learning?
  • Do we show students how our expert knowledge, spiced with extra learning from our hobbies, leisure, research activities etc. allows us to synthesise and create new products, concepts, ways to do things?
  • Do we treat students with respect regardless of their innate abilities, attitudes or social, cultural or religious values?
  • Do we work within our societies ethical codes?

All of us can perhaps reply YES to all the above, but to what degree does the above permeate our teaching practice? Can we say that we are able to ignite passion in every student that we have the pleasure to teach? Have we the time to be all things to everyone? How does technology help?

So many questions, and any answers? In my context, it’s the ability to reflect, to have the things that we should be passionate about, always at the forefront of how we teach, develop learning resources and live our lives.