Our Educational Message

Hi, and welcome to our blog. This space is designed to share ideas and methodologies that we use to teach Turkish teenagers. In particular, there is a strong focus on ICT-ELT, which means if you like visual and technological support for your style of teaching, this blog is for you. My colleague, Brentson Ramsey, has been working alongside me for three years. He is also a big proponent of the ICT-ELT Paradigm, which means he will also be posting from his own teaching perspective on the blog.

2010 was the beginning of this new journey, and although there is no definitive ICT-ELT road map available for everyone to follow, it is exciting to explore the technological means to make teaching more fun and affective for students. Our main message is for teachers to ADOPT & ADAPT the paradigm shift for their own needs, and remember that

Saturday, 23 February 2013


Opening yourself up as a teacher who encourages their students to be creative is a truly daunting task for far too many teachers. One sentient reason for this is down to the loss of control teachers ultimately experience once the process begins. However, if you approach the activity for which you only facilitate your students' own creative talents, within a carefully considered framework that encompasses deadlines, objectives, purpose and personalized understandings, then creative learning outcomes can take place.  Your own biggest learning outcome will be that you have genuinely contributed to the growth of your students, and you will undoubtedly feel great!

As the title, INNOVATION ZONE, suggests my colleague and I thought we could try to tap into the creative void by moving the students out of the classroom in order to break their habitual norms and initiate change in the way they approach  a creative, thought-provoking  group challenge. Therefore, we chose the library seminar room, at our school, which is a newly refurbished, fresh and different space for the students to feel inspired.

The plan we made for this second week project, and one that will continue throughout the semester in different forms of creative exploration, was designed to show how exciting it is to jump-start our own creativity as teachers and students, so we can set our minds free from the day-to-day onslaught of turgid regiment and boring listen-to-me-and-write-this-down educational norms that most students have come to expect (not necessarily accept!).  Therefore, our plan hopes to have an environment where our students will feel inspired to be more autonomously creative, as opposed to relying solely on us the spring-board to their own learning and investigative inquiry.

After getting the presentation started I felt the students were getting excited. This is quite normal when you move your young teen group into a new environment for the lesson. It all depends, of course, if the same enthusiasm can last the test of ninety minutes. I was optimistic since when I asked them what being creative felt like, and why creativity is what makes us who we are, they responded favorably to the question. Both my colleague and I were very encouraged by what we were seeing and hearing. I wanted to extend the hook, and my next tactic was to ask them how people commit suicide. It is a weird topic for sure, but there is a good reason for it.  They had just watched a highly emotive animated short video on bullying, as part of their class novel, Boy in the Girl's Bathroom.  They were making a cognitive connect to the topic; thus there was no shocks when they were asked.  They replied with typical responses of hanging, drowning, jumping in front of a train, shooting etc. This went on for a few minutes. Then I showed them a couple of images of The Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley.  This fabulous collection of creativity does not make light of suicide, but shows a dark and satirical look at how the artist's mind works.  It had a wonderful affect on the students own creativity.  They started rattling off morbid, yet creative, methods ranging from mafia contracts to deep freezes, saunas and poison. It was working!

The next step was to get the students to consider PERCEPTION, and their own considerations of how they approach any new information from both their teachers and their peers.  For this I used two different images from illusionists.  The first is a classic image that was first seen almost one hundred years ago, and the other a relatively new image from a street 3D artist.  The first one on the left caused a great stir.  More than half could only see one of the ladies present.  This was met with disbelief and consternation.  Then happiness and joy as the image became obvious.  The creativity paradigm was taking hold.  Then disaster struck.  The second image, since it has been continuously emailed since it was first drawn a few years back meant they had all seen it.  This meant the students had little or no interest in the picture.  It was an (negatively) astounding moment for both my colleague and I.  We were really taken aback, as one girl dismissively comment, "Yeah, so what? It's only a girl in a swimming pool on the street."  Another just turned away and reached for her phone to check messages(!!).  I was forced to step in and remind them of the incredible talent and creativity the artist has in order to produce such a painting. I tried another 3D picture from the same artist, but no difference from the girls at least.  Some boys did react, perhaps because it shows a laptop embedded in the pavement, but the creativity was waning, or at least the appreciation of others was.  I moved back to theory to prove my claims.

So, moving on from the examples, I wanted to realign my ppp.  The reason for it is to show the students what they have to think about, so it is only a glitch.  After all, as I show them the beauty of creativity, it is still my colleague and I being the creative ones.  So, I had to move on.  It is necessary for everyone when they are attempting to be creative that they let it flow.  That they don't hamper their creativity with evaluations of whether it is good or not; whether it will work or not.

The students need to take stock of their own assumptions, prejudices, intolerance and perceptions of any new ideas that do not match their own.  This is very difficult for anyone, but very tough for teenagers amongst themselves.  This will definitely be a difficult pill for them to swallow, and I compounded their arduous task ahead by reminding them that once the creative sessions start in earnest, they would not be allowed to react negatively to anyone's idea in their groups. Negativity and Intolerance, mixed with prejudice and empathy only lead to stifled, frustrated and outcomes with very little quality.

My final slide of the session was a message for them to walk away with and to ponder for the whole week.  In fact, the slide itself contravenes my own style of slide-preparation, since it is covered in writing.  However, you can see that I have played a very clever trick by which the main message has been highlighted, the rest of the paragraph's words have been reduced in density by 30%, thus making the message more attractive to the viewer.  That means it is a worthy inclusion, and one I focused on with the students since it was a moment of my own creativity.  

So, as the session closed and the students walked off to lunch, my colleague and I looked at each other in dismay.  It had not gone as well as we had hoped, but then we realised these students have been used to sitting and listening for eight years without being expected to seriously create.  The indifference we felt towards the end could be for many factors, but we will march on next week with the second session.  We aim to succeed with this project on creativity work, and even with its teething issues on the first day, we believe it will work.  WE need to break their brainwashed habit of accepting what is given to them, and promote the importance of THEIR responsibility, autonomy and ultimately awesome teenage creativity they will embrace once they experience that feel-good factor creativity always brings.

Next Friday session will begin with me showing the students an example of creativity done across the world thanks in source to the magnificent Johnny Cash.  The students are unlikely to know him, but that is not the focus.  Take a sneak preview of my opening hook.  Thanks Johnny [:-p-}

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