It’s been a busy time for Writing PAD East Midlands, what with some pedagogic speed-dating at DMU’s Festival of Teaching and a visit to the Playful Learning SIG meeting at the University of Leicester.
We’re back with a review of ‘Intention: critical creativity in the classroom‘ by Amy Burvall and Dan Ryder:
Ever read a book and wish you’d written it?
This was my experience on encountering this rather wonderful publication. The authors have compiled a highly visual, playful and importantly, practical guide to the link between creativity and critical thinking. Now why didn’t I think of that?
‘Intention’ is a lively and informal read (some readers may find the language a little too relaxed for their taste) but it makes a serious point: doing creative stuff makes important learning happen. No argument from me there.
The authors discuss the way that creative constraints result in divergent thinking, and make the central point that creative activities must have a clear learning intention in order for them to provide meaningful learning experiences.
In terms of assessment, they provide helpful (again, some will find the language rather informal) examples of criteria/rubrics for assessing creative assignments. The important distinction between assessing form and content is highlighted and discussed.
Although the US middle/high school context of the book may make it seem less pertinent to UK Higher Education, the key ideas and practical learning activities are highly applicable within the HE landscape, particularly in relation to current thinking about co-creation, cultivating resilience and a fostering a sense of belonging.
I appreciated the fact that this was an analogue book rather than a purely a website: readers are invited to interact with the book physically, making it their own by doodling, annotating, etc. (not your average pedagogic tome then). My copy is already stuffed with post-it notes, and looks to be a worthy successor to ‘Inspiring Writing in Art and Design: Taking a Line for a Write‘ by Pat Francis as my constant teaching companion.
On the other (digital) hand, Amy and Dan make extensive use of hashtags (one for each activity, as well as the main #intentionthebook and #criticalcreativity ones). This means that it’s easy to find examples of how others have used and adapted the techniques, and of course to share your own (some are more heavily used than others).
The design of ‘Intention’ embodies its playful ethos: images are plentiful (a few more of activities ‘in practice’ would have been helpful) and fonts are thoughtfully used. I particularly welcomed the lack of large swathes of text: plenty of white space is included and writing is divided into chunks with good use of sub-headings and a well-designed layout.
‘Intention’ is a book of two halves: the first deals with the underlying principles, philosophy and rationale of the ‘critical creativity’ approach (including the concept of ‘Rigorous Whimsy’ #rigorouswhimsy), the second provides detailed classroom activities.