Creativity in Maths
The purpose and value of creativity in primary mathematics education Within this essay I am going to discuss the complex notion of creativity, In specific relation to creative teaching within the subject of mathematics. I will define the Issues of Interpreting creativity and the debates surrounding these issues. Secondly I am going to look at theories of creativity and the different views which have been argued. In relation to pedagogy, I will examine if the amount of assessment that teachers are now required to do restricts how creative they can be within their delivery of the curriculum.
Furthermore, I will analyse the difficulties of creative pedagogy and the implementation of creative learning across the curriculum, focusing on mathematics. Creative learning can be highly beneficial for children’s learning and development, I will highlight the reasons for this and look at key theories relating to the debate. Lastly, I will look at policies and reviews which suggest that creative teaching approaches should be used across the curriculum. Wlthln education there are complex Issues relating to creativity.
Creativity Is defined by different people In many different ways. Duffy (1998 cited In Brock, Dodds, Jarvis nd Olusoga, 2009) defines creativity as a means of forming new connections in a way that is meaningful to the individual. In this way creativity can be very useful for learning, due to the fact that it can help individuals create new distinctions within their learning and gain a firmer understanding of what they are being taught. Similarly Kohl (2008) suggested that creative activities are about exploring exciting and advanced ideas in the hope of discovering something new.
Through experimentation learners may stumble across knowledge that was previously unknown to them, which gives them the opportunity to expand on their nderstanding. By provldlng children with creative opportunities practitioners are giving them a chance to expand their knowledge through self-directed learning, In a way that Is of Interest to them as an Individual. Freud (1900 cited in Woolfolk, Hughes and Walkup, 2008) took a psychoanalytical approach to creativity.
He believed that creativity is present in all individuals within their unconscious mind and that it is brought about due to a wish to fulfil that individuals desires. Freud argued that all individuals have a creative potential, they just do not always display the use of it. Within children he identified creativity as ideation, a process of creating new ideas. When engaging in certain activities children will be creative In order to gain more enjoyment from what they are doing. Maslow (1943), however took a humanistic approach to the Idea of creativity.
He suggested that the drive to learn is intrinsic as Individuals strive to reach self- actualisation. Maslows hierarchy of needs depicts levels of needs which Individuals can meet, starting with very basic needs and moving up to more complex needs which individuals have to strive for in order to achieve. He argued that in order for an Inalvlaual to reacn selT-actuallsatlon at tne top 0T tne pyram10 tney neeaea to extend their thoughts and actions through problem solving, creativity and morality.
There are a number of issues surrounding creativity as it can be interpreted differently when put into different contexts. The core areas of learning within education are now heavily assessment based and there is a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy, which is having a negative effect on creative pedagogy (Eaude, 2011). Within the teaching of core subjects there is very little time allocated to creative activities, instead the pedagogical focus is more on the acquisition of nowledge and facts Cones and Wyse, 2004).
It could be argued that if teachers look beyond this structured approach to learning there is plenty of scope for fostering creativity in children’s learning within all areas of the curriculum. In the area of mathematics, children are taught specific skills and knowledge which they will need in order to achieve the level that they are expected to in accordance with the National Curriculum (DfEE, 1999). However, certain areas of mathematics involve a large amount of problem solving, which requires an individual to adapt their thinking n order to develop and discover how best to solve the problem at hand.
Problem solving is seen as a creative process (Piggott, 2007). According to Cropley (2003, cited in Jones and Wyse, 2004) problem solving is intrinsic to creativity therefore the learner can be encouraged to use their creative thinking skills within the area of mathematics. On the other hand, children are often still given boundaries to work within, which again will stifle their chance to be creative or explore further possibilities. Creativity has been highlighted to be highly beneficial for children’s learning. Using creative methods of teaching can help to keep children engaged and motivated in their learning.
Steiner (1861 – 1925 cited in Wood and Attfield, 2005) stated that within creative activities children become more engaged in their learning and therefore are more likely to learn from the activity that they were participating in. If children are provided with activities that they find captivating and interesting, they are more likely to actively participate, and therefore will gain something from the experiences that they encounter. In order for children’s creativity to flourish, within heir learning they need to be given a chance to do things for themselves (Wilson, 2008).
Nickerson (1998 cited in Adams, 2005) suggested that allowing children to have a choice in the task that they are given enhances their creativity. Also the fact that they have chosen the activity for themselves means they will have more motivation to work towards their goals. If children can direct their own learning, by being given their own choices, they will use their current knowledge in a creative way to decide how best to approach the given task. Teaching mathematics in a creative way is seen by many teachers as a challenge.
Mathematics is often regarded as a subject with set rules and structure; with right and wrong answers (Wilson, 2005). However, mathematics is not always recognised in it’s full capacity and can be present in areas which are not always deemed to be mathematically inclined, therefore making it a difficult subject to approach in a creatlve capaclty. Most teacners Delleve tnat matnematlcs snou10 De taugnt In a conventional and structured manner, although it could be argued that the reason for this is that teachers may not be confident enough to teach it any other way Cones and Wyse, 2004).
Cropley (2001) would argue that conventional methods of teaching can have a negative effect on attitudes and motivation towards individuality as children may be encouraged to work in a certain way in order to logically work out the answers. In order to be creative within their teaching of mathematics, teachers need to provide children with opportunities in which they can extend their thinking and build on previous knowledge. It is often argued that creative mathematics is only accessible to the more able pupils, however it is possible to include all abilities.
Furthermore, children of all bilities will always be willing to engage in mathematics creatively if they are given the opportunity. The DfES/QCA (1999) stated that mathematics as a creative discipline can stimulate exciting new achievements for learners and therefore teachers should facilitate all children’s learning by giving them a chance to engage creatively within the subject area. Introducing creative pedagogy in the area of mathematics can have a substantially positive effect on children’s development.
Children who previously had little confidence within the subject can be taught different ways of dealing with athematical knowledge. Introducing children to different teaching methods and expanding mathematics using a cross-curricular approach will give children the opportunity to make comparisons and links between mathematics and other curriculum subjects (Cropley, 2001). The use of cross-curricular teaching will give the children the opportunity to partake in learning which links to a subject area that is of interest to them.
Mathematics can help develop children’s thinking skills and it is important for children to be able to think creatively within all areas of the curriculum (Cropley, 2001). Within mathematics in particular children sometimes may need to think outside the box in order to discover the answers to what they are looking for. Mathematics can also be a chance for the involvement of abstract thinking skills as children learn to calculate mathematical sums cognitively.
Mental arithmetic may be seen as something children commonly engage in, however they need to be able to deal with numbers and mathematics in an abstract context before they can fully develop these skills. Overall, the subject area of mathematics is much more widespread than is always recognised. The use of mathematics can be applied across he curriculum and within children’s every day life. Therefore it is essential to children’s educational development. The National Curriculum (DfEE, 1999) highlights the importance of fostering creativity while still ensuring that pupils gain the essential numeracy skills that they require.
The National Curriculum suggests that all areas of the curriculum can be taught creatively, even the core subjects such as mathematics. A number of schools work towards the development of key skills which are outlined in the National Curriculum Handbook, while also including opportunities to be creative within mathematics NCSL, 2005). I ne Natlonal curriculum ) InTormea teacners tnat wltnln mathematics children should be taught to develop thinking skills, problem solving and learn to communicate mathematically.
However this document focused more on the attainment of the children rather than the approaches that teachers could take in order to build upon these aspects using creative pedagogy. In 2000, the National Numeracy Strategy (DfE, 2000) was published in order to look at the teaching of mathematics in depth and to suggest to teachers ways in which they could incorporate better pedagogy within the area of mathematics. In his review, Williams (2008 cited in DSCF, 2008) looked at pedagogy for primary mathematics in the curriculum.
He argued that in order for the content of a curriculum to be effective it must be partnered with excellent standards of teaching. He talked about developing positive attitudes towards the subject through delivering mathematics in interesting ways which will engage the learner. Through the use of creative pedagogy teachers can provide positive experiences which captivate the learner and therefore help them develop good attitudes towards the subject of mathematics. Similarly to Williams (2008 cited in DSCF, 2008), Ofsted (2010) drew parallels between the National Curriculum and creative approaches to teaching.
They reported that children are more motivated by creative ways of learning, suggesting that providing experiences linked to the subject material within the National Curriculum, in which children can develop their creative learning, will in turn have a positive effect on their attitudes towards the subject. In conclusion, creativity is highly important within all aspects of the curriculum. Although it can be interpreted in different ways, this could have a positive effect as it llows for even more originality and diversity within teaching methods.