According to a review commissioned by The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, the following five elements are important for encouraging creativity:
1. Knowledge
a) Deep, extensive knowledge of the domain
b) Broad knowledge of many different areas
2. Creative thinking skills
a) Synthetic: Combining existing knowledge or understanding in new ways,
often through many attempts of which only a few are successful
b) Analytical: Ability to judge one’s own ideas
c) Practical: Ability to promote creative ideas
3. Motivation
a) Curiosity
b) Intrinsic interest
c) Perseverance (delayed gratification)
d) Willingness to take risks
e) Comfort with ambiguity
4. Metacognition
a) Explicit decision to be creative
b) Knowing about creativity (i.e., all of the above)
5. Environment
a) Non-controlling (risk taking and unconventional solutions rewarded rather
than sanctioned)
b) Non-threatening (intrinsic incentives vs. extrinsic rewards or threats)
Source: Adams, K. (2005, September). The sources of innovation and creativity. Paper commissioned by the National Center
on Education and the Economy for the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. Washington, DC: National
Center on Education and the Economy

Westdale Film Festival

Imagine the auditorium a buzz with excitement as the Oscar winners rush on stage to receive their prize. The audience laughs and gasps during the screening of the winning films. This is how student work should be  shared!

Former Westdale students, Stefan Pejic, David Gunn and Khalin Elliott, once the stars of the Media Art program, are now  celebrating the new talent and presenting the Oscars. We also had Nathan Fleet, an established musician and successful filmmaker and curator of the Hamilton Film Festival  return to present the best short films. All the films were judged by our returning student presenters, plus Lock 3 Media, a documentary film production company and Miles Davren, film editor.

Photos from the show, the crowd – Junior and Senior assemblies, Andre  for  tech, our student MCs, Dan, Taylor, Milos and John Connolly teacher MC.

The winners are posted on our Vimeo Channel

Next year I think that we will be combining the junior and senior assemblies in order to show all the films to all the students. It is good for the juniors to see what the seniors are producing.

Learning through Hip Hop

A surgeon shows, through functional MRI imaging, that during improvisation the brain is working on many important levels, unlike when someone is using memorized material. Creativity is a neurological process that can be measured and this experiment measured brain activity while musicians were playing or rapping – comparing improvised jazz keyboard playing and hip hop rapping. The experimental question was: What happens in the brain during something that’s memorized and over-learned, and what happens in the brain during something that is spontaneously generated, or improvised, in a way that’s matched motorically and in terms of lower-level sensory motor features?

So if the brain is engaged on many levels during improv vs memorizing, then students should not be memorizing content. Why invest precious classroom time in a strategy that simply does not benefit the student? This speaks to the importance of learning through creativity, self-direction and discovery.