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Knowledge first. Then skills. Then creativity?

July 26, 2018

 

Knowledge first. Then skills. Then creativity?

 

This makes no sense to me. What knowledge do you refer to? Which skills and what form of creativity?

There are different knowledge domains according to the taxonomy you adhere to but these are commonly agreed:
1. Factual Knowledge - facts information.
2. Conceptual Knowledge - Ideas, concepts.
3. Procedural Knowledge - procedures, tasks, skills.
4. Metacognition - the Me of knowledge, knowing how when where and why I need to use the knowledge.

For each domain there are a series of applications such as remembering, analysing, applying, evaluating and creating. Some see these as hierarchical others don’t.

So knowledge isn’t only a series of facts you get your students to remember. It can be but it can also be an idea you have or a skill you’ve learned. So to say knowledge comes before skill is like saying knowledge comes before knowledge. It makes no sense.

It is the word creativity that baffles many since it is a very difficult thing to define. But saying it comes only after knowledge makes no sense because it is knowledge too! You may think that since creativity is a higher order taxonomy application that this proves it comes after factual knowledge and you may be right. It can. But leave the application of your facts too long and they become just that. You get quiz masters, adept concert pianist who can’t write their own sonatas or people who have climbed the academic ladder without creating anything original. People with high factual knowledge aren’t always the most creative and vice versa. That’s because creativity runs through knowledge domains like marble and needs to be taught as such.

 

Show a baby a crayon then let them draw with it, teach a child letters then let them write a story, explain how a Raspberry Pi works then let them apply it for a purpose. Creativity is constant and ongoing. Creativity IS knowledge and it needs to be used consistently not after facts but sometimes before or during! 

 

The way we teach is context dependent too. For example: I want my pupils to draw a portrait. I can do this several ways:

1. Factual - pupils learn about great portraiture, then learn skill by copying artists style, then apply to own work creatively. 

2. Conceptual - We think about different ways to represent a face, we try out some experimental ways, then learn how great artists did it. 

3. Procedural - I teach the skills of portraiture which they try to learn, then we study portraiture through history and they apply to a creative outcome.

4. Metacognition- we begin by discussing past experiences of drawing portraits, we identify anxieties or find out what they most want to learn about portraits. Then we tailor lessons to their needs making sure they learn great portraiture and new skills along the way. 

 

Which is the correct way? Which is the best? Is it knowledge first, skills second, creativity third? No! It’s:

1. Knowledge first
2. Knowledge second
3. Knowledge third.

Just don’t make it all factual knowledge and make it creative!
 

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