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An open letter to Nick Gibb: 5 myths about creativity

By Bill Lucas

10 March 2020

In an open letter to the Schools Minister, Bill Lucas makes a case for the teaching and assessing of creativity

Dear Mr Gibb,

Congratulations on your reappointment in the recent Cabinet reshuffle. I am a strong supporter of your view that teaching should seek to develop deep knowledge in students and, of course, that we should unremittingly seek to raise standards.

At the same time, I am a long-term advocate of the value of creativity and critical thinking in schools and in life, advising organisations across the world on this topic. 

Today, I will be meeting with other educators and policymakers from around the world, to consider how best to use research and promising practices to advance the creativity agenda globally. 

I would like to take the opportunity to wonder aloud about five myths about creativity, which have gained currency in some people’s thinking. I would love to discuss these issues with you, in the light of the opportunity the UK still has to opt into the Pisa 2021 test of creative thinking.

These myths need to be challenged consistently if we are truly to cultivate young people’s creativity across the world.

Read open letter in full

Bill's Blog - Twelve ways to be a more successful learner

Following on from our Successful Learners event at The University of Winchester in partnership with the Winchester Teaching School Alliance and Kings' School Winchester Professor Bill Lucas has written a blog detailing the twelve ways to be more successful. 



What do you really need to learn in life? How do you teach students to excel? What do successful learners do differently from others? What, in short, are their habits of mind? Over the last two decades the learning sciences have begun to provide some powerful answers to these questions.


Here are some suggestions, drawing on research, to help you identify the kinds of learning habits likely to help you succeed. Imagine a clock-face. This one comes from Winchester High Street. Think of each of the twelve points of its face as we look at twelve key aspects of learning.


Read Bill's blog here  

How to develop habits of creative thinking
If schools are to make creativity normal, then they need to think about the culture they seek to create, says Professor Bill Lucas.



Read full report here

Dr Ann McCarthy of NACE summarises the action research projects in her report






'All teachers improved their practice and engaged in professional learning which they used to benefit learners. They were able to identify changes which were successful and elements which did not work as well. They then adapted their practice in response to the self-evaluation.'


'The energy and enthusiasm which came from this activity led to teachers extending the new initiatives beyond their classrooms. Dialogue within school and between schools had a positive impact on both learners and teachers. All teachers found that research-based practice was a valuable form of professional development. They were empowered to continue to approach teaching in this manner and to share this practice with those around them.'


Read full report here   

Secretary of State outlines five expansive foundations of character education including creativity


                                                     The full report can be read here


Character and resilience are as crucial to young people’s future success as academic qualifications, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said today.

Addressing the Church of England Foundation for Educational Leadership conference today (7 February), Mr Hinds laid out the 5 Foundations for Building Character and pledged to work with schools and external organisations, including membership bodies and charities, to help every child access activity within each of those foundations.

Expansive Education in Australia


Australia is a leading light in its decision to emphasise the need for expansive capabilities in schools. Last week Bill Lucas launched a new report, A Capable Country: Cultivating capabilities in Australian education, with Melbourne-based Mitchell Institute, suggesting ways in which the vision could become reality across the education system.



The full report can be downloaded here

Prof Bill Lucas and Dr Ellen Spencer collaborated with the RSA to explore how young people feel about engaging in youth social action opportunities




The research found that young people are giving back to society more than adults might think and that there are strong links between a young person’s belief in their creativity and their confidence to participate.  However, more opportunities are needed that allow young people to express their creativity through selecting the problems they want to solve.

The report and an extensive literature review on creative self-efficacy that informed the research can be downloaded here:

Developing Tenacity launch event and the 'fantastic' talk by Prof Bill Lucas


Most teachers will be familiar with the frustration of students giving up all too easily when things get difficult. This is a problem, because learning happens at that uncomfortable place where thinking has to be stretched. Students who tick along nicely without trying are those who come unstuck at higher levels of learning. 


And students used to failure need to experience the buzz of success through hard work if they are to accomplish anything in life. 


Educators attending the recent launch event listened to Professor Bill Lucas talk about why tenacity matters and, more importantly to teachers, how they can cultivate it. 

The book is already proving popular with teachers looking for ways to embed practical changes in their classrooms. Its framework of what tenacity means is highly practical. Said one teacher: I could see having students take their own Tenacity temperature against these specific components. Superb and focused!


But don’t take our word for this! UKEdChat’s review says of the book: ‘no matter what stage of your teaching career you are at, you will find it thought-provoking and challenging’. If you’re looking for material for your teachers to dip into that provides quick wins as well as deep thinking, this book is well worth reading. 


Says Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer of EL Education, and teacher: 'To create beautiful work and contribute to a better world, students need tenacity. Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer describe how schools can inspire and cultivate tenacity, pulling together research and best practices from a wide range of educators to guide schools in creating a culture to bring out the best in students'. 


Professor Ronald Beghetto of the University of Connecticut calls the book 'Accessible and immediately applicable'. 

Follow Developing Tenacity on Twitter @pedagogy4change

Mindset influence on academic achievement explored in new report



This latest analysis of PISA results by McKinsey & Company suggests that students’ mindsets have more influence on academic achievements than their socioeconomic background. McKinsey & Co call this mind-set a ‘motivation calibration’, where students exhibit effective behaviours (eg; doing more than expected, continually improving on tasks) that increase their academic performance. For students in poor performing schools, having a well-calibrated motivation mindset can support social mobility.

Read more 

New research from the RSA - The Ideal School Exhibition 



Two key aspects of Expansive Education feature strongly in The Ideal School Exhibition report by the RSA. The research stresses the importance of setting expansive aims for education and on the role of the teacher as the expert best able to select teaching and learning methods likely to produce a rounded education.


Report author and RSA’s director of education Julian Astle says of the debate about what an ‘ideal school’ looks like: ‘In short, it is a debate about what kind of education will prepare them, not just to write a good exam, but to live a good life.’. We too believe the point of education is more than exams and that expanding goals, places, mindsets and teacher personal identity are of utmost importance to help children and young people to become better at learning so they can thrive in all they do.


The report makes a number of recommendations including:

1. Create a new culture in educational assessment by making tests harder to teach to; 2. Reform the accountability system by reweighting league tables; and 3. Encourage a teacher-led professional renaissance by abolishing Ofsted’s ‘Outstanding’ category.


Above all, as Bill Lucas has argued on many occasions. Astle invites us all to move beyond the old binary alternatives of didactic or enquiry-led teaching to explore what is likely to develop young people's character as well as their knowledge. 


Read the full report here

Good news - Creative Thinking will be the focus of the 2021 PISA test!



This innovative book applies the idea of growth mindset to the cultivation of a vital contemporary capability - creative thinking - drawing on both evidence and promising practices. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University   



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