In our pursue of preparing students for real world careers and challenges while equipping them with 21st-century skills, we sometimes overlook our responsibility as educators to dream and establish environments where creativity can thrive, allowing everyone to bring out their best selves. It is therefore of the utmost importance to create nurturing learning spaces that inspire imagination and encourage the unique potential of each student.
The new edition of the course Creativity for the future: promoting Critical Thinking and Problem Solving in the classroom was held in Bologna from 16/07/2023 to 22/07/2023. The participants came from the schools all across Europe, with Tania, Aldina and Maria from Escola Básica e Secundária Amadeu Gaudêncio in Portugal, Krisztina from Újbudai Grosics Gyula Sport Általános Iskola in Hungary, Gabriella from Budapesti Műszaki SZC Neumann János Informatikai Technikum in Hungary, Krisztina from Karinthy Frigyes Gimnázium in Hungary, and Cornelia from Internationale Oberschule Meerane in Germany.
Regarding the key competences for living in the 21st century, participants discussed the topics of learning and innovation skills, digital skills and also career and life skills, focusing their attention on the 4Cs: critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration. A crucial insight gained from the session was the diverse functioning of our brains and thinking strategies facing problem-solving tasks, which we experienced firsthand through practical exercises.
Participants were presented with a series of challenges aimed at prompting them to reflect how typical obstacles to innovative "out-of-the-box" thinking can be easily overcome by applying specific strategies.
For example, using the 6 Thinking Hats method, participants were able to put into practice “lateral thinking” and devise its concrete application to some existing content they are teaching.
During the training, participants were also introduced to visual strategies that promote creative expression and effective idea generation. The focus was on moving beyond the traditional perception of "visual thinking" as solely related to art. Innovative and digital perspectives were proposed to expand the horizons of educators and encourage them to use new activities as catalysts for stimulating students' creativity and initiating fruitful brainstorming sessions.
A reflection on the importance of training students’ critical thinking skills was needed in a world where most of the time they are passively exposed to loads of (dis)information. Participants engaged in reasoning, questioning and debating activities that could be adapted to different classroom settings to help students become active and aware agents of their own learning.
The program also emphasized that fostering creativity and critical thinking does not always require the invention of entirely new methodologies. Often, innovation can arise from reframing and adapting traditional tools. By creatively applying traditional games to their specific subjects, educators gained valuable insights into building stronger learning perspectives while infusing classrooms with fresh approaches. Finishing the course, everyone had a chance to develop their lesson plans, which incorporated the newly acquired strategies, proving their readiness to create a creativity-rich classrooms.
Discover more about this course here.
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