The last and warmest week of July from the 25th till the 31st we hosted a group of teachers eager to take part in the course Creativity for the future: promoting Critical thinking and problem-solving in the classroom. They came to Bologna to share their experiences from different European countries: Maria from Inicijativa za engleski jezik i kulturu in Croatia, Inga from Peetri Lasteaed-Pōhikool in Estonia, Spela from Zavod sv. Stanislava in Slovenia, Catalina and Alina from Liceul de informatica Tiberiu Popoviciu in Romania, Camelia and Simona from Scoala Gimnaziala Nr. 3 Cisnadie in Romania, Claudia from CEDRU Association in Romania, Galina, Iskrena, Gergana, Bilyana and Silviya from Emiliyan Stanev Secondary School in Bulgaria.
The group was confronted with few initial creativity challenges, like turning as many blank circles as possible into recognizable objects, to understand the principles of creative thinking and answer the underlying question: how can we make our teaching more creative and help our students to express their unique points of view? The answer came by practicing multiple tasks and activities like brainstorming, visual exercises, lateral thinking. We learned how even the simplest task, as giving a definition, can be accomplished in a creative way. It is just a matter of challenging ourselves to think out of the box and questioning our assumption to be able to see things from different angles.
It was then time to practice the questioning and debating pedagogies to foster critical and creative thinking skills in the classroom. It was with guessing and speaking games but also with the support of ICT tools that we learned how to apply these traditional pedagogies in a more innovative and engaging way.
The group was then ready to apply and put into practice all the principles and knowledge acquired to engage in challenging problem solving tests and activities. For instance, do you know how to put a giraffe into a refrigerator? The most straightforward would simply open the refrigerator and put the giraffe in, somebody would try to find a very big refrigerator, but the most creative ones would use a giraffe puppet or would take a picture of it and put it in the refrigerator. This and other practical problem solving games tested helped the group acknowledge how sometimes the answer is in front of our eyes or easier than expected, but most of all that everybody perceives reality in a different way, that multiple solutions are possible and we should not be afraid to discover them and use our imagination!
Participants finally shared their emotions about the course that was recommended for school staff that needs a little bit of warm environment, easy ideas, time to express creativity and start a new school year with fresh air in their wings. Because, all in all, the course concluded a lot of different activities in order to fulfill the real goal – think creatively.
Want to hear the experience from the point of view of one of our participants? No problem! Have a look at the article Maria wrote about her week in Bologna :)
The Trainer - Sara Natalini