Being Creative….

You might have heard be proclaim on several occasions that I am the most un creative person you will know. I can not draw or paint, my singing voice can only be paralleled to a cat in distress and my musical talent consists of bashing out the melody line with my right hand while hitting random bass notes with my left in a vague attempt to keep up with the singing children. But some people disagree with my initial assessment and sometimes I actually agree with them.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen a recent article I tweeted on Keeping Creative. It outlined various activities you can do to keep you in that creative mindset or to keep your creativity flowing. I was concentrating on number eight (drinking coffee) and other people have retweeted the article adding the number they are focusing on. But am I really fooling myself that drinking coffee will support my creativity – if indeed I really have any at all!

One of the things I always like to focus on when teaching, whether in primary school or higher education, is how I will facilitate the learning. One main part of this is designing or creating an activity or a scenario which engages the learners. This, I hope, is where my creativity kicks in – so to speak. I recently went on a day trip to Durham and, of course, took a trip around the famous Durham Cathedral. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs inside while I was looking around and listening to the tour guide my mind was developing ideas for mathematic puzzles and lessons. In this relaxed atmosphere creativity appeared to be springing from every pore! even though I was seriously attempting to turn off from work for one moment. At one point, the tour guide claimed that the height of the columns which supported the vaulted roof was actually equal to their circumference. My brain immediately started to think how could I prove this and also what activity could be created for the 7yo to prove this. Was it truthful or just a moment of madness that noone had ever proved? Could the children measure the height of the columns and more importantly – why would they want to?

What mathematical activities can you see here?

What mathematical activities can you see here?

As part of the first assignment in our second year mathematics module, the students need to design three activities for a chosen place or site – for example York Minster. When reading the activities, the degree of creativity really shines out. Although initial thoughts might suggest activities such as count the bricks or how many statues? – the final submissions demonstrate that students have thought both creatively and mathematically, including those all important using and applying skills or the skills that appear in the ‘aims’ section of the new National Curriculum. Here is something to get you thinking. Have a look at this photograph of the outside of Durham Cathedral. What would be the mathematical activities you could think of for the children, of your chosen age range, to complete from this view. You will probably come up with a range of activities to start of with, but try to think about the purpose of these and the actual learning that would come from them. And perhaps most importantly – be creative!

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