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james@excelsiorgroup.co.uk

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Tag Archive: creativity

  1. Why Lego is a symbol of lack of sporting creativity

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    Lego and sports clubs have become sterile environments

    Lego creativity

    Lego from 1970s

    Lego sets used to stimulate children’s (and their parent’s) imaginations. In the 1970s the goal of Lego was to use imagination and explore as you can see in the letter on the right.

    Now, Lego blocks are almost always sold as part of some marketing tie- in with very prescriptive step-by-step instructions.

    Does that sound like any sports coaching you know? If your child is forced to stand in a queue and listen to an adult tell them exactly how to move around cones then how will they adapt to the changing environment of sport?

    Coaches need to be able to set up environments that allow the children to connect the dots rather than just collect dots (coaches read more here).

    My goal when coaching our young athletes is to set up tasks or environments that allow children to develop and learn themselves. This “guided discovery” means I ask them questions, or set them challenges, rather then prescribe specific actions (there are some exceptions).

    guided discovery

    KIds exploring

    This has probably been the biggest change in my coaching in the last 3 years, and something I emphasise regularly on the strength and conditioning courses  we deliver.

    An example is shown on the right where I asked the kids to try and move over their partners in different ways. I am constantly surprised and delighted with how kids respond to this at all different ages.

    Are your kids allowed to be creative, or are they just being told what to do? 

    If you would like to come to our athletic development club sessions, we are based in Willand and Wellington.

  2. Out of Our minds- Ken Robinson: Book Review

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    “Out of our minds: Learning to be creative”

    by Ken Robinson is a book that explores the need for creativity and why it is being hampered by our education system.

    You can see Robinson expound some of his views here.

    Recommended for all students and teachers.

    The book starts with a look at education and why people lose creativity- they are forced to fit into subjects or disciplines. For example, dance is often part of the P.E. schedule at school- but dance is not P.E. Dance is creative and expressive, there are some physical benefits, but the goal is artistic, not mechanistic.The reason it has been put there is for the convenience of “labelling” and timetableing.

    Robinson looks at the way education has continually narrowed its field, which leads to an impressive rise in exam results- but has less relevance for the real world. Is the UK a leader in creativity and innovation? Or has this been discouraged in young people in order that they can improve test results?

    Robinson talks about “academic inflation” where continually chasing test scores means that more and more jobs require higher and higher qualifications. What might have required O levels 40 years ago, probaly needs a degree now, and what needed A levels now needs an MSc.  That does not mean that the workforce is any better- ask any employer about the standard of application they now get.

    Part of the problem is the edging out of artistic subjects (and P.E.) from schools so that “core” subjects such as science and maths have more room. But great scientists and mathmeticians are creative- or at least thery were in the past. Who is to say that Artists are not worthy? Why is someone who has  a Phd on ballet deemed cleverer than the principle dancer of a ballet?

    The book was first published in 2001, but if anything, the system has got worse. Teaching to the test and worrying about artificially boosting entrance requirements to gain more funding for the department\ school is a worrying trend.

    I think the book has some good foundations and ideas, but I was disappointed in that it didn’t live up to its billing of helping develop creativity.

    I learnt more on my “Crash course in creativity”

  3. Are you a puzzle builder or a quilt maker?

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    creativity“Look at things with fresh eyes”.

    Do you get stuck in a rut and find it difficult to come up with new ideas or solutions? Me too.

    I have just completed the Crash Course in Creativity run by Tina Seelig at Stanford University.

    Looking at things with fresh eyes was how I would summarise the course.

    “How can you teach creativity?”

    We are all creative at birth, just look at how young children will play with wrapping paper and boxes this week.

    Unfortunately it is beaten out of us as we are forced to sit in cubicles or desks and try to please teacher or pointy haired bosses. Seelig got us students to look at ourselves and our environments.

    creativity

    We had to to various team or individual projects that required us to go out and investigate, create, collaborate and brainstorm solutions and ideas. The project designs and video lectures were very good. The demands of working on teams across 3 continents and multiple time zones were not so good.

    creative environment

    This was my first attempt at an online course, and I found it quite demanding. It coincided with a busy work period of only having 2 days off in a month. The course took between 4-6 hours a week for about 8 weeks.

    It was worthwhile not only because it has helped me redesign the Excelsior website, but also that learning new things is important for mental well being.

    The course was FREE, as I have stated previously, this is the way of learning in the future. 

    Thanks to Tina Seelig, Venture Lab and Stanford University for organising and delivering this excellent course.

    Next up for me are “Critical Thinking in Global Challenges” and “Introduction to Infographics and Data Visualisation”.

    To answer the initial question: if you are given 999 pieces of a puzzle, do you get stuck and can’t finish the project? Or, do you look at what you have got and create something from that: a quilt?

    Make the most of the resources at hand.

  4. PE Teacher Inset- Stanbridge Earls School

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    I did a 3 hour inset last week with the PE staff at Stanbridge Earls school.

    We looked at the principles behind LTAD and how physical development matched this model.

    We then looked at ways of identifying structural problems in the school children and how we could improve their structural integrity.

    For the last 90 minutes we highlighted ways of strengthening the athletes, looking at bodyweight, dumbbell and medicine ball exercises that used dynamic multi-joint actions.

    It was interesting to see the lightbulbs going off above the teachers’ heads as we linked the exercises to what their pupils can and can’t do.  I purposely got the teachers doing, rather than talking, so that they could see their own limitations and have more empathy with those kids who will find it difficult. 

    I hope to go back next year to do a longer workshop and use some case studies to help the teachers improve their overall delivery.