Creativity takes courage!!!
Before starting this course, I would not have described maths as particularly “beautiful” or as a “creative art”. However, the more I read about maths and education, and the more maths that I experience, with an awareness of the importance of understanding, the clearer it is that this is the case. I find it sad that only through partaking in an SKE that the richness of the subject and its imaginative and inspiring traits are revealed to me; that through thirteen years of education this was not apparent. While Skemp would argue that this is because I was taught instrumentally at school and since starting the course more of a relational understanding has been uncovered, I think Lockhart is also right that it’s more than this. That students are being deprived the complexity and depth of the subject. Taking Jo Boaler’s views one step further, he argues that mathematics is an art, but that our culture does not recognise this. This makes me wonder whether the problem lies not with the curriculum, or the school system but with society (wow… how do we even begin to address this !?). So not only students but everyone (minus a lucky few) are being denied the chance to be inspired by maths and to experience ‘creative frustration’ which makes maths such an engaging subject.
Sir Ken Robinson addresses the way in which children’s creativity is squandered as they pass through the education system. Through the stigmatisation of mistakes, students are afraid to be wrong which means they are incapable of creating original ideas. This is in line with what Lockhart is arguing, speaking about maths in particular, that students should be allowed to be wrong and creatively frustrated. Robinson also states that there is also the problem of individuals who possess creative talent being persuaded by society that they have none as it currently is unvalued in the current system. He argues that richness of human capacity is being heavily underrated and ignored, that this conception needs to change and rethink the fundamental principles on which we are educating our future with. Society at the moment is being short-sighted and instead needs to education students for a future that is unpredictable and unimaginable.
Lockhart’s and Robinson’s grand ideas are fabulous. But I fail to see under the current system how we would even begin to device such a learning of maths. There would be a complete lack of standardized testing and I know that Lockhart believes that this doesn’t matter, but I think it’s natural for parents and educators to want to be able to gauge how well a child is grasping a subject. After all, how would we as teachers know which students needed extra support? It just strikes they are constructing problems rather than providing us with an implementable solution. I am now confused about what difference I can make in terms of the current school curriculum. Also whether teacher training itself is an issue which needs to be addressed?!