Educators are given the task of preparing students for the challenges of the future, and it is a dauntingly tall order considering the unpredictability of the future in this rapidly evolving world. Experts agree that now, more than ever, a teacher’s job is no longer only to impart knowledge, but also to prepare graduates who can think critically, experiment freely, collaborate effectively, create knowledge, and participate constructively in the teams that will face the problems of tomorrow. As researchers such as Ken Robinson, Tina Seelig and Keith Sawyer claim, this is what creativity and innovation are all about. They have written volumes detailing what is at stake and each offers some inspiring ways of educating for creativity and innovation in a fast-paced world.
Add to these studies countless workshops, lectures and conferences designed to help teachers move from the traditional role of imparter of knowledge to that of an educational guide who steers twenty-first century learners towards their own discovery of knowledge. This twenty-first century role can be very motivating, particularly when it works! However, this vision of the classroom can be a lot more difficult to achieve than it may seem. Many well intentioned educators do a commendable job of keeping a steady eye on this goal, but don’t succeed as they would like to. Indeed, the pedagogical practices that underlie creative thinking can be vexingly difficult to implement.
Like all matters in education, the obstacles are complex and multiple: technology, social factors, individual student profiles and funding are only some of the challenges that affect successes and failures in the classroom. However, when it comes to educating for creativity and innovation, are our educational structures also to blame? Is there a fundamental contradiction between the conservatism of schools as organizations and what many teachers attempt to achieve in the classroom?