Experiences of a new way of learning
Despite the great potential of creative methods for teaching, it is unusual for most students to think freely artistically and to participate in a creative project in a university setting. Most of the academic training takes the form of lectures and working with and on texts. Other ways of representing knowledge and ideas usually play only a subordinate role in academic life. This may lead to students having only unspecific expectations of creative courses, no precise idea of how they work, and which product might be expected. At first, this can be unsettling and even lead to a skeptical attitude. In most cases, however, students are curious and look forward to a new way of learning.
The use of creative methods in teaching can also be a challenge for teachers. Even though many teachers have experience in using art-based elements in their teaching, such as showing films, it is often a new challenge for them to accompany creative processes in class.
The use of creative methods, therefore, places demands on teachers and students alike.
Depending on the method used, initial resistance in the group can occur, for example, when reading children's books. It is important to make students aware that creative processes and the use of creative art-based methods may follow different rules than rational learning methods. Creativity is an open process and at the beginning of a project, it is not clear what the outcome will be. Therefore, it requires involvement, curiosity, and courage to create something new. Many creative methods can lead to resistance. In the course of the creative process, students are confronted with questions of their personal identity and their group identity. They may also be confronted with complex social, cultural, political, or economic issues. For the students to be able to deal with this, it is necessary to create protected spaces. The entire creative process must be regularly reflected together upon. Questions and uncertainties should be addressed and discussed. It is important that everyone respects their emotions and opinions and that they find space in the common discussion.
One of the most important findings from the use of creative methods is that difficult topics can be made more accessible. In art, there are many forms of expression other than verbal language, so that more opportunities for exchange open up. Abstract terms can be presented more easily and emotions can be made more tangible. Once a safe space is created in the classroom, art-based methods are a good way to deal with feelings not only as individuals but with the whole group.
Also, surprising is the insight that the telling of stories can bring on the practical and theoretical levels. By getting to know and understanding personal migration stories, theoretical approaches to migration become easier to understand.
The use of creative and art-based methods enables a more multifaceted interaction with personal experiences and social phenomena. It promotes self-reflection, group sharing and discussions and a deep understanding of the complexity of the topics at hand. Although the use of creative teaching methods is less predictable than that of traditional methods, the gains for all participants are far-reaching.
Lucas, B., & Spencer, A. (2017). Teaching Creative Thinking. Developing learners who generate ideas and can think critically. Carmathen, Williston: Crown House.