In the previous post on Creative Learning, I summarized the first two concepts of 4P’s: Projects, Passion, Peers and Play by Mitchel Resnick.
In this post, I would like to introduce the other two concepts: Peers and Play. Don’t forget to check out this open online course: Learning Creative Learning created by Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT Media Lab.
Mitchel suggests that we need to shift from think-it-yourself to make-it-together.
“This approach is more aligned with the needs of today’s society, where almost all jobs require collaborative effort, and the most important social issues require collective action.”
With peers, students collaborate with and learn from each other to create prototypes and artifacts. They seek for team members offline and online and develop communities by themselves. These meta-cognitive strategies enable them to become more self-sufficient.
But how should we support this? In chapter 4, Mitchel addresses it by discussing the shifting role of teachers:
- Catalyst: The best way for a teacher to provide a spark is to ask questions. By asking the right types of questions, a teacher or mentor can catalyze exploration and reflection, but the learner remains that active agent, in charge of the activity.
- Consultant: The goal is not to “deliver instruction” or “provide answers,” but to understand what people are trying to do and figure out the best way to support them.
- Connector: An important part of teachers’ job is to connect learners with other people who they might work with, learn with, and learn from.
- Collaborator: Teachers or mentors don’t simply provide support or advice. They work on their own projects and invite people to join in.
Why is play even relevant or essential? In chapter 5, Mitchel explains that play helps students to explore the unknown and the uncertainty.
However, not all types of play are equally valuable. Citing work from Marina Bers, he agrees that there is a difference between playpen and playground.
“The playground promotes, while the playpen hinders, a sense of mastery, creativity, self-confidence, and open exploration.”
“Playpen” indicates limitations and restrictions, whereas “Playground” is open and encourages social interactions. With that, he suggests that the tinkering process combines the value of “playing” and “making.”
“The tinkering process is messier. Tinkerers take a bottom-up approach: They start small, try out simple ideas, react to what happens, make adjustments, and refine their plans. They often take a meandering, circuitous path to get to a solution. But what they lose in efficiency they gain in creativity and agility. When unexpected things happen and when new opportunities arise, tinkerers are better positioned to take advantage.”
Tinkering is inherently an iterative process, similar to the process of design thinking.
“Tinkerers believe in rapid prototyping and iteration. When working on a design project, they build something quickly, try it out, get reactions from other people, then make a new version— over and over.”
In order to cultivate creative thinkers, he cautions that teachers need to understand that step-by-step instructions should be a stepping stone, not a final destination. Teachers also need to encourage students to try out different approaches and styles so that they can switch strategies as situation warrants.
In the next post, I will contextualize some strategies you can use to foster creative learning in your class.
Meanwhile, if you have any questions or want to brainstorm together, please do not hesitate to contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org