Creative Lab: from the perspective of… Leighann Ness Wilson

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be revisiting Creative Lab from the perspectives of those who participated in or facilitated workshops. This week, interior designer and pre-service teacher Leighann Ness Wilson, a participant at the program, will share her thoughts on Creative Lab.

Leighann: The Creative Lab workshops at QUT The Cube were an opportunity for educators from various sectors to experience and interact with the concept of STEM to STEAM. As an interior designer currently re-training to become a high school teacher, this was a wonderful opportunity to combine the core elements of my two vocations. The torrential rain of the previous night dried away, and the sun came out on a clear Brisbane day. Educators were welcomed to The Cube, the perfect setting for things to get interactive and fun.

At the littleBits workshop, facilitator Jacina Leong encouraged us to “reframe problems as opportunities’’ as we brainstormed, collaborated and essentially played with the technology to prototype an idea. At the essence of all of the workshops was the notion that the technology itself (be it littleBits, LEGO EV3 or MaKey MaKey) is a tool, not a learning outcome. As was re-emphasised in the discussion panel at the end of the day, educators should embrace experiences that allow them to explore and learn alongside their students.

The overarching theme of Creative Lab was to provide ways, or indeed reason, to inject creativity (the A for Arts) into other school subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). From a design perspective, this seems simplistic and almost obvious. Design is essentially problem solving which requires one to think creatively.

Pedagogical practice that allows students opportunities to develop skills in critical thinking, problems solving and innovation requires teachers also to think creatively. Unfortunately, it is often the case that the notion of creativity is seen as the realm of a select few. If critical and creative thinking are fundamental to successful learning, educators must allow and encourage creative thinking in all its forms.

Collaborative projects, such as the ones we experienced at The Cube, particularly and ideally cross-curricular, provide individual students with opportunities to identify and be rewarded for their unique strengths, while facilitating a stronger understanding of themselves and building confidence in a multitude of ways.

Educators are encouraged to acknowledge their own inherent creativity and understand that creativity comes in many forms and can be applied ubiquitously. Creativity and innovation are amongst the most highly valued and useful skills of the modern world.

In exploring the notion of STEM to STEAM and facilitating workshops using various technological tools, Creative Lab introduced some real ways to value-add to education as a whole. Pedagogical techniques such as these that promote creative thinking are crucial, particularly when viewed in the context of equipping students with the skills to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

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