Democracy And Democratic Education Education Essay
When I worked in the Affiliated High School of National Chengchi University and observed the Forest School and The Seeding Experimental School in Taiwan, I found that in their specific learning atmosphere, the students can think and act more creatively and critically. We can always see their creative products in the campus, such as poems, posters, paintings and statues. Furthermore, the schools are full of freedom, respect, trust and appreciation, it is common to see their students spontaneously singing and dancing in campus. Due to these interesting findings, I started to ask myself a question: ‘are there any connections between the democratic atmosphere and the pupil’s creativity?’ Further, ‘to what extent can the democratic approach to education support more creative learning?’ I subsequently searched for the literature about the two concepts; as a result, I found some valuable information about the connections between democratic education and creativity. However, it is rare to see the studies that are directly investigating the connections between the two educational approaches (democratic education and creative education), the motivation to conduct this study has therefore emerged.
In order to address the issue, this essay is designed to firstly explore the nature of democracy, democratic education, and then creativity and creative education. After exploring those concepts, this study turns to investigate the connections between democratic education and creative education, also answering the question that ‘how can a democratic approach to education support more creative learning?’ This paper is organised into the following three sections: the first section discusses democracy and democratic education, whereas the second highlights the concepts of creativity and creative education. In the third part, I mainly use Rhodes (1961) Four Ps Model (Person, Place, Process and Products) of creativity to analyse/ compare the two kinds of approaches to education, complementing with a discussion of two democratic schools in Taiwan – the Forest School and the Seeding Experimental School.
Democracy and Democratic Education
‘Two inventions of man must surely be viewed as the most difficult: the art of government and the art of education’ - Immanuel Kant, Kant on Education (Ueber Padagogik) Translated by Annette Churton (1992, p.12)
Democracy can be applied to many contexts, from narrowly political perspective to broadly personal life. In political level, Danziger (1998) stated that democracy is the leader of a nation who is elected by all eligible citizens, as genuine alternatives to make some political decisions for the public. Vanhannen (1997) further argued that as a political form, democratic society should have different groups or parties equally competing for power, as well as to be responsible to the people, through the way of elections. John Calhoun (paraphrased by Roper 1989) also mentioned that democracy itself is not a majority rule but representing the public interests and simultaneously recognising the minorities. On the other hand, viewing democracy as an aspect of life, Dewey (1916) stated that ‘Democracy is more than a form of government: it is primarily a mode of associated living, a conjoint communicated experience’. It is fair to say that democracy can be regarded as a governing power for a nation, and all the people can join for making its collective interests. In the same way, having the rights to make decisions would possibly affect their lives as well.
Regarding democratic education (hereafter DE), it is believed that to establish, maintain and develop of a democratic society, citizens’ participation is needed, and aiming to reach this goal citizens should be equipped with the knowledge and thus understand the values of democracy, and education has always been regarded as a good manner. John Dewey, the father of progressive education, placed DE the premise of his work in the early twentieth century, as he claimed that in order to promote a nation that truly valued democratic principles, all of its citizens must be empowered to engage in a democratic discourse. Greene (1995) mentioned in the book ‘Releasing the Imagination’, suggesting that the notion of education is to connect with others, enabling people to develop high quality of democratic behaviours and to be communicative in their societies. Nussbaum (1997) stated that people should be responsive to others in order to raise their democratic accomplishments as citizens. Therefore education and schooling, in order to foster future citizens the sense of democracy, is taking an important role (Dewey 1916; Gutmann, 1987; 1999).
In the trend of prioritising DE, many have attempted to make clear definition and find its embedded facets. Since DE is full of pluralism and complexity, after a long debate throughout the past decades, a generally agreed definition has not been reached. However, I found that DE inherits most of the features of democracy  and have been mentioned constantly, including a. freedom of choice, b. equal access, c. shared responsibility, d. respect and trust, and e. student-centred learning.
Regarding the agreements made by DE related organisations, the 13th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) in Berlin 2005, clearly stated their agreement on DE that ‘in any educational setting, young people have the right: 1. to decide individually how, when, what, where and with whom they learn, and 2. to have an equal share in the decision-making as to how their organisations - in particular their schools - are run, and which rules and sanctions, if any, are necessary (www.idec2005.org).’ On the other hand, the European Democratic Education Community (EUDEC) stated that DE is ‘self-determined learning’ and ‘a learning community based on equality and mutual respect’ (www.eudec.org, 2012).
As the aspect of equality, in other words, equal access, the education for low class of the society did not receive public attention and become something for the Commonwealth until the 19th century, when Leo Tolstoy founded a school: only for the peasant children, where pupils are allowed to decide whether to come to school or listen to the teachers (trans. Leo Wiener, 1967). Regarding the final aspect of student-centred learning, Moswela (2010) pointed out that it is a good way of democratising their school and classroom learning: ‘placing the students in the centre of teaching embodies the principle of democracy’. Learning is meaningful when topics are relevant to the students’ interests, the idea that students can choose what and how to study is that only when they have motivation, they can actively construct their own knowledge. Some basic democratic experiences are crucial in supporting students to express their thoughts and ideas Democratic approach enables students to determine their way of lives and needs, which should be regarded as granted as a purpose of education.
In order to implement these ideas, the democratic schools have been established in over 30 countries. The UK has long been regarded as the pioneer of democratic schooling, it is undeniable that the earliest democratic school that we have known, and still exist, is Summerhill School.  It was founded in Germany in 1921, and moved to England later on. The founder is A. S. Neill, a Scottish educator, who has written several books about the topic of democracy and democratic education, such as That Dreadful School (1937), and Hearts Not Heads in the School (1945). In fact, most of his books have subsequently influenced many of the democratic schools founded later on. The school run as a democratic community, which means that the running of the school is conducted in the school meetings that every single person in this school are available to attend as well as to vote for the issues they addressed in the meetings.
Sudbury Valley School, on the other hand, is another kind of democratic school that founded in the United States in 1968, which has been the model for a number of Sudbury schools broadly around the world. The model has three basic tenets: a. educational freedom b. democratic governance, and c. personal responsibility. Students are allowed freely to arrange their learning schedule, they believe that learning should be a personal effort that based on individual interests, but not necessary to be experienced through courses or standard curriculum (http://www.sudval.org/index.html).
In summary, there are various kinds of definitions of democracy and DE, however, five themes have been found to be essential to both concepts, including a. freedom of choice, b. equal access, c. shared responsibility and d. respect and trust. And, it should be noted that all the elements can contribute to a more student-centred learning.
Creativity and Creative Education
Albert Einstein once said that ‘Creativity is intelligence having fun’, it is believed that creativity is something rather fascinating and vivid, something children own since the very first day they were born. ‘All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.’, said Pablo Picasso. Although many artists, writers and scholars advocated the importance of creativity, it is still a rather elusive one to pin down for researchers. Creativity, similar to democracy, is full of pluralism and complexity; therefore, because it is extremely difficult to make clear definitions, some even argue that it has been inappropriately overused (Abinun, 2012). Thus, it is suggested that creativity should be explained in a clearer manner, and sometimes it varies in different contexts. However, most scholarly works agree that creativity has two features, namely originality/novelty and usefulness/valuable (Boden, 1999; Feist, 1999; Gruber & Wallace, 1999; Lumsden, 1999; Lubart, 1999; Martindale, 1999; Nickerson, 1999). Csikszentmihalyi, in addition to originality and usefulness, advanced the concept and asserted that there is another essential feature of creativity - implementation (Csikszentmihalyi & Wolfe, 1995). He suggested that it is important to bring the innovative and useful ideas into existence. Similarly, Edwards stated in her book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (1979; 1989; 1999; 2012) that creativity is ‘...the ability to find new solutions to a problem or new modes of expression; thus it brings into existence something new to the individual and to the culture.’ Rollo May (1975) also had a similar explanation on creativity, claiming that creativity is the process of bringing new things or ideas into reality.
Creativity can be invetigated by employing many approaches. For example, Mayer (1999) asserted that it can be investigated through psychometric, experimental, biographical, biological, computational, and contextual; whereas Ivcevic (2009) summarised that the approaches of individual traits and beliefs, biological dispositions, interactions with environment, social groups, situational elements, and implicit situation are commonly used. However, more scholars agreed that the major methodological approaches, which have been employed from 1950s, are the following: a. personality; b. cognition; c. ways to stimulate creativity, and d. creativity and social systems (Craft, 2001; Ryhammar and Brolin, 1999).
Research concerning personality in creativity embraces various aspects, such as personality assessment, personal traits, and personal motivation. Two major approaches contributing to the field are biographical and biological methodologies. While the biographical approach has special interest in analysing personal traits, biological methodologies mainly focus on the biological characteristics of creative or non-creative persons. Another approach, cognition on the other hand, pays more attention to an individual’s cognitive processes, such as intelligence, unconsciousness, and mental processes. Psychological and psychometrics are the two major approaches of creativity investigation under the cognition umbrella. Mayer (1999) concludes that while psychological researchers attempts to describe cognitive process involved in creative and non-creative thinking, psychometrics approaches try to develop creativity related measurements or assessments. The most well-known psychometrics work is arguably Guilford’s efforts in 1950 and 1967 in measuring to test divergent thinking. This is regarded as the starting point for all psychometric measures of creativity. The third major approach to creativity research is to explore the ways to stimulate creativity. For example, cognition psychologists advocate various forms of programmes for stimulating participants’ thinking processes, whereas behaviourism researchers believe that creativity is something that can be learnt from environment, something which like all other behaviours can be explained in terms of reinforcement, and be trained for in the stimulating-responding process.
In contrast with these earlier developments, research into creativity in the 1980s and 1990s became rooted in a social psychological framework, which recognises the important role of social structures in fostering individual creativity (Rhyammar & Brolin, 1999, Jeffrey & Craft, 2000). This has been described as being a fourth, coherent area of study (Jeffrey & Craft, 2000): creativity and social systems, which is a more coherent framework to carry out a coordinated set of studies therefore is needed for shifting focus from one “specific dimension” such as personal traits to a “system”. Some investigators such as Csikszentmihalyi (1988, 1996, 1998, 2000a), Amabile (1983, 1996), and Sternberg & Lubart (1991, 1995), therefore advocate the study of creativity in the social context. To the scholars above, regardless of whether creativity is considered as a personal trait, creative behaviour, cognitive process, or something that can be trained, creativity should be ultimately linked to social contexts, and be understood through interaction processes.
Amabile was the first scholar to develop a model within a social context. Amabile first published the Componential Model of Creativity in 1983, discussing the social influences on creative behavior. The model can be regarded as the first one to comprehensively take into account cognitive, personality, motivation, and social influences on the creative process, and is also the first to investigate how these factors influence the different steps in creative process. In Amabile’s (1983, 1996) model, creativity is the creative production that emerges in a five steps process, namely: (1) problem or task identification; (2) preparation; (3) response generation; (4) response validation; and (5) outcome evaluation. Further, the process interacts with task motivation, domain-relevant skills and creativity relevant skills.
Figure 1.3 Amabile’s (1983; 1996) Componential Model
Source: Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to "The Social Psychology of Creativity." (p. 113). Boulder, CO, US: Westview Press.
Another social context creativity researcher Csikszentmihalyi investigates the relationship between creativity and cultural evolution. Inspired by the process of species evolution, Csikszentmihalyi developed the DIFI  framework in 1988. The DIFI framework has three subsystems: individual; domain; and field, each of the subsystem interacts with others. Csikszentmihalyi revised the DIFI framework and named it Systems Model of Creativity in 1999, and according to the model, creativity can be best understood as a “confluence” of three subsystems  . The domain includes a set of rules and practises. Any culture is composed of thousands of independent domains, and most human behaviours or activities are affected by rules of some domains. An individual is the most important one from a psychological perspective. An individual makes a novel variation in the content of a domain and the variation will be evaluated by the third part of the system, which is the field. The fields are held by various gatekeepers, such as experts and scholars, who have the right to choose which variations can be reserved in the domains. McIntyre (2007) refers to Csikszentmihalyi’s analysis of creativity as an interactive system. Just as air, tinder and a spark are all vitally necessary to create fire. Csikzentmihalyi (1999) takes the position that creativity means “the ability to add something new to the “culture”. The creation by an individual must be “sanctioned by some group entitled to make decisions as to what should or should not be included in the domain” (Figure1.4).
Figure 1.4 Csikszentmihalyi (1999) System Model of Creativity
Source: Csikszentmihalyi (1999). Implications of a systems perspective for the study of creativity. In R. J. Sternberg（Ed.), Handbook of Creativity. UK: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg and Lubart also investigate creativity in social contexts, and therefore developed the Investment Theory of Creativity in 1991. Unlike researchers like Csikszentmihalyi or Amabile who focus on describing the subsystems and its interactions, Sternberg and Lubart have investigated the different factors that might influence creativity. The factors include intelligence, thinking styles, personality, knowledge, motivation, and environment. Nonetheless, compared with other models suggested by Amabile or Csikszentmihalyi, Sternberg’s and Lubart’s Investment Theory of Creativity is merely a heuristic model, and it falls short on many elements. The details of the operation and how different factors interact with each other still need to be clarified. “Buy low and sell high” is the core concept of the investment theory, and creative people are those willing and able to buy low and sell high in the realm of ideas  .
Due to the word limit of this essay, I only articulate the two more related approaches for current study, including the ways to stimulate creativity, alongside with creativity and social systems.Ways to Stimulate CreativitySince the 1950s, there has been a strong concern that education should prioritise the development of creativity. Implicit in this is the assumption that creativity can be so influenced. Since then, a range of attempts to stimulate creativity have been developed, although there is, as Ryhammer & Brolin (1999) point out, a serious lack of systematic, controlled evaluations of such programmes. It is also the case that the methods and criteria for evaluating these are underpinned by differing theories of creativity. In addition, whether looking at attempts by cognitive psychologists, psychodynamicists, humanists or behaviourists, there is no evidence of transfer into new contexts. See the section on progression and development for further discussion of transfer issues. There was also work done in the 1980s which suggested that early family responsibilities and opportunities for independent action encourage creative achievement and that creativity training programmes in schools are more effective when teacher involvement is high (Benjamin, 1984).Creativity and Social SystemsBy contrast with these earlier developments, research into creativity in the 1980s and 1990s became rooted in a social psychological framework which recognises the important role of social structures in fostering individual creativity (Rhyammar & Brolin, 1999, Jeffrey & Craft, 2000). This has been described as being a fourth, coherent area of study (Jeffrey & Craft, 2000): creativity and social systems. Some significant theories have been put forward in which creativity is seen from a systems perspective (Cziksentmihalyi, 1998, Sternberg, 1998, Sternberg & Lubart, 1991a, 1991b, 1995), where various elements of the overall social and cognitive context are seen as highly relevant to the activity of creating. Three major studies were undertaken - one in Europe (Ekvall, 1991, 1996) and two in the USA (Amabile, 1988, Isaksen, 1995) - which explored the organisational climates which serve to stimulate creativity. The results from these three programmes have converged at several major points, suggesting that, in a creative climate, the participants in the organisation:feel challenged by their goals, operations and tasksfeel able to take initiatives and to find relevant informationfeel able to interact with othersfeel that new ideas are met with support and encouragementfeel able to put forward new ideas and viewsexperience much debate within a prestige-free and open environmentfeel uncertainty is tolerated and thus risk-taking is encouraged.In addition, Amabile’s (1983, 1996) model suggests that individual creativity may be affected by even very minor aspects of the immediate social environment (relevant model please refer to appendix). For example, creativity may be impeded where rewards are determined in advance, where there is undue time pressure, over-supervision, competition or where choices are restricted in terms of approach or working materials, or where evaluation is expected. The role of the context or subject domain has been increasingly emphasised since the early 1990s. In 1970s, debates on creativity within philosophy regarded creativity as moving away from product outcomes and being connected with imaginativeness (Elliott, 1971). During the 1980s a new line was developed, born of social psychology and systems theory, where environmental conditions were taken into account. Within these four lines of development, (personality, cognition, stimulating creativity and social theories) there were specific foci such as the person who creates, the creative process, environmental factors, and the outcome (a fourfold set of foci, originally proposed by Mooney in 1963 as indicated above). Later on, during the 1990s, due to the development of the approach from social psychology, research into creativity became more comprehensive, integrating these specific foci. Research began to focus more on the creativity of ordinary people within aspects of education. At the same time the methodology for investigating creativity in education also shifted, within a general trend, from positivist, large-scale studies aiming to measure creativity, toward ethnographic, qualitative research focusing on the actual site of operations and practice, as well as philosophical discussions around the nature of creativity. In education in the United Kingdom, for example, Beetlestone (1999) focused on creativity in the early years’ classroom, Woods (1995) and Woods & Jeffrey (1996) explored teacher creativity, and Craft (1996) looked at how to nourish the creative teacher. Beetlestone documents practical strategies for fostering creativity within the early years curriculum, using examples from a large variety of early years contexts. Woods & Jeffrey work through in-depth case studies to document ways in which a small group of teachers operate creatively in the face of a wider context which arguably suppresses the creativity of the teaching profession. Craft explores in depth the perspectives of eighteen educators involved in a holistic postgraduate course specifically designed to nurture their own creativity. There are, of course, some overlaps in these periods. For example, from the applied education context, Fryer (1996) undertook a large-scale survey of teachers’ attitudes towards creativity in their daily professional work.Creative Education
There is a strong rationale for exploring creativity and learning and teaching: they are fundamental, interdisciplinary issues. Within education, creativity is usually associated with innovation, synthesis and making connections in the process of learning and teaching, (Reid & Petocz, 2004). Robinson (2001) views creativity and creative play as a global educational priority, essential to effective learning and teaching, the modernization of our educational systems, employability, and business success and economic prosperity. Howard Gardner defines creativity as the ability to ‘knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole’ and believes that ‘the mind most at premium in the twenty-first century will be the mind that can synthesize well’ (Gardner, 2006, p.46).
The insights and implications in developing creativity through education can be scrutinized into three aspects. The first aspect is concerned with ‘teaching’, including how to provide creative and innovative practices which stimulate the development of multiple intelligence (Armstrong, 2000; Chen, 1997; Torrance, 1963; Torrance & Myers, 1970; Woods, 1995), possibility thinking (Craft, 2000, 2005), and higher-level thinking (Cropley, 1992; Fryer, 1996; Yeh, 2006), or how to involve the opportunity of exploring and solving problems (Cropley, 1992; Fryer, 1996, 2003; Torrance, 1963). The second aspect of the implications suggests creating an ‘environment’, both external and social, that is stimulating and supportive to learners’ motivation/enthusiasm (Collins & Amabile, 1999; Hennesay, 1995, 2007; Woods & Jeffrey, 1996) and creative behaviour (Craft, 2001a; Esquivel, 1995; Lucas, 2001; Torrance, 1995). The third concern of nurturing creativity is about ‘teacher ethos’, which includes maintaining an open attitude towards creative ideas or behaviours, showing a humanistic pupil control ideology (as opposed to being authoritarian), being flexible, and valuing independence thinking (Chen, 2008; Craft, 2001a, 2005, 2007; Cremin, Barnes, & Scoffham, 2009; Esquivel, 1995; Hennessey, 1995; NACCCE, 1999).
Many nations have therefore launched several programmes promoting innovation and creativity, such as the European Union embarked on a project called European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009  . In the specific area of education, Burnard (2006) mentioned that in the United Kingdom there have been an extensive number of creativity initiatives in education during the past decade, and significant public deliberation and publicity around the creativity. Significant amount of effort and funding devoted to conceptualising and developing creativity in both learning and pedagogy. Some creativity education programmes can also be found in other countries. It should be noted that many believe the developments of creativity education programmes in the UK (including England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland) have heavily based on the NACCCE’s (National Advisory Committee on Culture, Creativity, and Education) report to OFSTED in 1999, namely “All our Futures, Creativity, Culture, and Education”.
Similarly, in Taiwan, the Taiwanese Ministry of Education (MOE) published the ‘White Paper on Creative Education  ’ in 2002, aimed at guiding the public to strive toward a ‘Republic of Creativity’ (MOE, 2002, p. 1). Taiwan consequently launched creativity programmes in education at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. The MOE proposed 10 principles so that creativity education could be implemented more rigorously and effectively. According to the 10 principles, 20 strategies were developed, which can be categorised into four broad dimensions-School, Societal, Industrial, and Cultural. In order to implement these strategies more efficiently, the MOE proposed that six action plans be initiated to actively promote creativity education in our society.
For example, the Creative High School Programme and Intelligent Ironman Creativity Contest are executed at secondary education level, whilst the Local Creative Education Programme is performed in primary schools. Reviewing the ‘White Paper on Creative Education’, it is found that Taiwan has complex objectives concerning schools and teachers. There are six action plans stated in the paper (p.16~p.19) as follows: a. Nurturing trips for creative learners; b. Professional development for creative teachers; c. Comprehensive management for creative schools; d. Creative life in action; e. Online learning via a creative intelligence bank; and f. Ongoing consolidation of creativity cultivation. Ultimately, the MOE aims to create a user-friendly environment and climate for the promotion of participants’ divergent thinking and motivation for innovation, as well as to encourage them to enjoy the creating process. Alongside with the expectation on positive changes in the attitudes or behaviours of all teachers, pupils, and creative practitioners, the MOE also wants to see some products come out from its intervention. With regard to the effectiveness of the creativity initiatives, some publications in Taiwan revealed that the promotion of related programmes have brought significant benefits to educators, students, parents, schools, and even for our educational system and society.
Dancing with Democracy and Creativity: How can a democratic approach to education support more creative learning?
By utilising Rhodes (1961) Four Ps Model and the creativity theories suggested by Csikszentmihalyi (1999) and Amabile (1983, 1996), this section critically analyses the connections of democratic approaches and creative learning. The two case schools of Taiwan- Forest School and Seeding School will also used to support the argument.
The Four Ps Model was firstly claimed by Rhode (1961) that creativity can be understood by Person, Place/ Press, Process and Product. I found that, based on the model, there are a wide range of similarities between the two kinds of education. Firstly, regarding Person, people are always the most important part in education, especially in democratic and creativity approaches. It is reported that many personality characteristics are typically associated with creativity, including courageous in convictions; curious, searching; independent in judgement; independent in thinking; intuitive; becoming preoccupied with tasks; visionary, idealistic; willing to take risks (Torrance, 1965; Csikszentmihalyi, 1976; Simonton, 1984). Interestingly, most of the characteristics are somehow, to some extent, related to the aims of democratic education. For example, the purpose of democratic education is to equip people with the ability to understand their nature interests, and to have the ability to distinguish right from wrong, so that they can maintain the democratic society as well as the system. It is about fostering children with the ability to think independently and critically. Lastly, ‘student-centred’ education is both pursued by the two approaches, which can be described as the shift in power from the teacher to the learner, driven by a need for a change in the traditional environment (Rogers, 1983). Nonetheless, until now there are still many classrooms which are seen as teacher-directed (Young, 1984), and this seems to be harmful to pupils’ creativity.
Place/ Press refers to the relationship between you and your environment - those things pressing on you, including physical, psychological, social and emotional safety and comfort in your environment, which also help or hinder your creativity. In creative learning, it is suggested that a nutritious environment should be constructed for stimulating and supporting learners’ motivation/enthusiasm (Collins & Amabile, 1999; Hennesay, 1995, 2007; Woods & Jeffrey, 1996) and creative behaviour (Craft, 2001a; Esquivel, 1995; Lucas, 2001; Torrance, 1995). Furthermore, in Csikszentmihalyi or Amabile’s theories, motivation is suggested to be essential for creativity. Similarly, democratic education also advocates the promotion of learners’ motivation, especially the intrinsic one, as they can follow their own inner guidance in determining what and how they are going to learn. More than the physical settings, the ethos – a mutual respected and trusted climate is essential to both creative and democratic approaches. Just as pointed by Inter American Children’s Institute (2009) and Hanson & Howe (2011), it is needed for a civics education to demand of its students to be mutually respected, also adults and children are more likely to develop mutual respect and learn to process conflicts. In creative learning, to maintain an open attitude towards creative ideas or behaviours, showing a humanistic pupil control ideology (as opposed to being authoritarian), being flexible, and valuing independent thinking (Chen, 2008; Craft, 2001a, 2005, 2007; Cremin, Barnes, & Scoffham, 2009; Esquivel, 1995; Hennessey, 1995; NACCCE, 1999).
The third aspect is Process; it explains the method and practice that is used to make people more creative. In school setting, process mostly uses to refer teaching, includes how to provide creative and innovative practices which stimulates the development of multiple intelligence (Armstrong, 2000; Chen, 1997; Torrance, 1963; Torrance & Myers, 1970; Woods, 1995), and to involve the opportunity of exploring and solving problem (Cropley, 1992; Fryer, 1996, 2003; Torrance, 1963). Fryer mentioned that some teaching ways are helpful in nurturing creativity in classroom, including ‘encouraging questions’, ‘providing firsthand experiences’, ‘giving some choice’, ‘building confidence’, ‘developing creativity by not doing, and ‘valuing pupils’ ideas and contributions’. I found that four major themes are equally important to both creative and democratic teachings, including freedom and responsibility, respect and trust. Regarding freedom, it is believed that pupils have the capacity to ‘developing creativity by not doing’. Fryer (1996) stated that in the interviews with five teachers, the teachers noted that non-interference helps:
“If you’re trying to develop creativity in young children, you set up lots of things and you hope they will interact with them, you talk about what they’re doing and show interest, but you don’t do everything for them, there always has to be an opening left for them.” (ibid, 1996, p.83)
Responsibility, in the part of giving some choice to children, teachers believe that if pupils are given choice, their attitude to a piece of work will be more creative. Some of these teachers even regard choice as a means of giving children a sense of ownership of their work, which they find increases their involvement in it. In some sense, this is about making pupils take responsibility for their work. They have their own decision of what to do and how to do it,. Concerning Respect and Trust, it is widely believed that encouraging students to ask questions is one of the key points in development of creativity (Torrance, 1965). Young (year) suggested that teachers should be very careful to every discussion from every student in the classroom, but not being selective to those, which did not support their ideas or arguments. Which means, respect. It is, in fact, the same idea which democratic education is emphasising, to be respectful, and encourage students to have questions is a way to reflect that how adults are giving spaces to let children express themselves. On the other hand, respect should not only be between adults and children, but should also exist among pupils. It is believed in teachers who are trying to promote creativity in class that valuing pupils’ ideas and contributions is also essential. Teachers should value all of their pupils ideas and thoughts, as well as to teach their students to be respectful to others in the class.
Product, no matter whether tangible or intangible, creative ideas, outcomes or products are new to the creator, has some level of usefulness, and has been produced and communicated in some way. The product could be seen as the least related part between democratic and creative approaches. No matter how the environment is nurturing a pupil’s creativity, or how the approach in democratic education is stimulating more creative thinking, it is still in need of specific skills in order to create a product that can be valued by others, for instance, one has to know some basic music theories in order to compose a song, or to learn how to draw in oil paints before actually paint in oils. Therefore, in order to reach more creative learning, some other elements should be integrate into democratic education, including creative skills and specific domain knowledge… etc.
The two cases in Taiwan:
The Forest School and The Seeding Experimental School
‘Here, teachers, students and animals are equal. No one bullies the dogs here.’ (Teresa Hong, student of FS). Because ‘Humans are animals too, so we're all equal.’ (Ellen Wei, another student of FS)
The Forest School (FS) in Taiwan offers a different style of education focusing on creativity, harmony with nature and independent thinking (Teh, 2006). The school have around 60 students in total, and their town hall meeting (the meeting that is held to set up school regulations) is chaired by the students themselves. Being the very first alternative school in Taiwan, FS has long been facing a number of difficulties and critics from the society and parents who do not really understand their principles of schooling. As a school based on humanism, they believe it is only when schools stop corporal punishment will the kids can enjoy their study as well as their school lives. Located in a mountain area in Taipei, FS believe that students should live with nature and develop independent thinking.
‘We hope that children in this school can eventually become someone with the ability to communicate and to live independently, also to develop their personality in a more positive and kindhearted way.’ (Lin, director of the FS, 2011).
They also pointed out that it is really important for students to know more about their home country, so one of the annual courses in FS is to travel around Taiwan with teachers. For example, in some countryside places students actually involved in farming, this provides them the first hand experience and knowledge instead of reading them in a textbook. It is also believed that the real life experience can broaden their horizon and help them to be more creative.
The Seeding Experimental School (SES) locates in a valley surrounded by mountains, which is a school founded by a group of parents who are seeking for a better education for their children (Currently SES has about 90 students with 9 teachers in school, which makes their teacher-student ratio of 1:10).
Whilst visiting SES, one scholar noticed a girl sitting on the grass alone. He thought she might have some issues so he went closer, but when he stepped next to the girl, he heard she said, ‘Come. Let’s enjoy the sunshine.’ Then he saw a smile with happiness on her face.
SES believes that freedom, respect, response, support, openness, trust and democracy should be integrated both into curriculum and ordinary life in campus. Only the subjects of language and mathematics are compulsory, and students are free to choose to study in an advanced level if they believe they have the ability. At the last year in this school, students have to create something before graduating, and they are allowed to decide their topic or subject; also, they will have to finish a challenge, such as camping and hiking in a mountain, or go on a trip by riding a bike. Apart from this, there is nothing that students in SES have to do or have to learn. They write a composition because they were inspired by the brook in front of the campus, or they sing because they were touched by blossoms on the trees; and that is the aim of the SES: to love, to live, to learn, to create (http://www.seedling.tw/).
FS and SES are both categorised as alternative school, and more precisely, democratic school in Taiwan. Hence, it is reasonable for them to integrate all the essential elements of democratic education, that I came up with on page xy, into their schooling, among them freedom of choice, respect and trust, shared governance and responsibility, equal access and student centred learning (can be seen on Table x.x). However, the idea of equal access cannot be completely actualised, it is impossible for all the Taiwanese children to study there, as the tuition fee is approximately 10,000 USD for an academic year, in contrast, the tuition to attend a public school is less than 700 USD. In fact, ideally, the school should provide the high quality education for a bigger population of students; however, their budgets do not allow them to make it possible. Being private self-funded schools, the total tuition fees the two schools received are less than 2/3 of their expenditure on schooling. Rather than attempting to secure some funding from the government, the two schools choose to be fully self-funded to ensure their independent position without any governmental influence.
Regarding the pupil’s creative performance, it has been reported repeatedly that their schooling can promote creativity (Yuan, 1994; Chang, 1999; Teh, 2006 ). By using the Four Ps Model to analyse their schooling, I found that the democratic education enables the student to come out with creative ideas and products. With regard to place and process, the ideas of freedom, respect and trust, shared governance and responsibility are employed throughout their schooling. Concerning the aspect of person, it is all about freedom of choice, because the students can decide what and how to learn, they become more self-motivated, which is an essential element for creating. These three Ps, person, place and process work with democratic education perfectly, and thus construct a good foundation for the pupils to make something both innovative and valuable. However, if we use the creativity theories of Csikszentmihalyi and Amabile to analyse the two schools, some domain knowledge (such as the knowledge of language, mathematics, science) and creativity relevant skills (such as divergent thinking and convergent thinking) are also needed.
Respect & Trust
Students are allowed to determine their learning that are triggered by intrinsic motivation, which has been proved as an important factor to improve creativity
Teachers and staffs have faith in children and believe that they have the ability to make the right decisions.
Ideally, every child should have the equal access to study at these schools
With more freedom in making decision, students are also having more responsibility towards their works.
An environment without limitations stopping them from exploring anything new. Pupils are allowed to think and act freely and become more creative thinkers.
Adults and children are mutual-respected in the place that full of respect and trust as well as appreciation.
An environment that opens to everyone.
School governed by adults and children together, so that students can actually determine something that is influencing their school lives.
Teachers provide stimulus and nutritious ethos that facilitate the pupil’s thinking. In order to let the pupils think more creatively, critically and independently, teachers choose not to do everything for them.
Teachers encourage and value every question that has been asked in class, as well as every student’s works.
Children and teachers have equal power in the decision making for teaching and learning
The way of sharing the authority as well as responsibility with children is one kind of methods to make students feel more involved.
Students have the rights to create their own products such as poems, writings, paintings, statues, singing, and dancing.
Creative ideas and products are highly valued and appreciated. Furthermore, the schools cherish and have willingness to present the products
In this paper I wanted to investigate … By reviewing the scholarly works, I found that, although the meanings are slightly different in the concepts of democracy and democratic education, some common features have been clearly stated including freedom, respect and trust, equal access and shared governance and responsibility. Some salient examples of democratic schools are the Summerhill School and Sands School in England, and those later established ones including the Forest School and the Seeding Experimental School in Taiwan. Creativity is full of pluralism and complexity, although it is ‘notorious difficult to define and measure’ (Runco, 2004), recently many researchers indicate that the central elements of it are novel/originality and valuable/usefulness (Boden, 1999; Feist, 1999; Gruber & Wallace, 1999; Lumsden, 1999; Lubart, 1999; Martindale, 1999; Nickerson, 1999). For enhancing creativity, a wide range of disciplines have been introduced into education, excepting the frequently cited Four Ps Model (1961), still others such as cognitive, psychodynamic, humanism and behaviourism approaches. Nonetheless, a more dynamic approach emerged recently, namely the studying of creativity though social contexts, viewing creativity as the outcomes appear in a condition of dynamic interaction, for example, the Systems Model of Creativity, which was suggested by Csikszentmihalyi (year), claimed that creativity appears when the three subsystems including individual, domain and field work together.
Examining the literature of democratic education and creative education, not surprisingly, there are many overlapping aspects. By the employment of the Four Ps Model (Place/Press, Process, Person and Product) to analyse their connections, I found that the most similarities are in the aspects of place/press and process, for example, they both pursue a more liberal climate, preferring the more student-centred learning, prioritising more weights on the student’s freedom, voice and creation, moreover, they both seek for a mutual-respected environment. Broadly speaking, when viewing creativity as ‘Mini-C’ – novel and personal meaningful interpretation of experiences, actions and events (Beghetto and Kaufman, 2007), or just simple as what Piaget said ‘To understand is to invent’, or the famous quotation from Dewey ‘Learning by doing’, then, creativity can be a process or product that happens as a result of a purely democratic education. Similarly, humanist Maslow once argued that what educators need is providing a nutritious environment helping the pupils to ‘climb’ to the highest level of its hierarchy of needs – self-actualisation, where creativity, problem solving, morality and democracy appear. That is, democratic education can be regarded as a necessary condition as well as a sufficient condition for creativity.
However, when we see creativity as Big-C (eminent creativity) or Little-C (everyday creativity), which means that creativity needs to be evaluated or valued by others. The democratic education may not be regarded as sufficient condition but a very supportive factor for creativity. It can be seen as a cornerstone for creative learning, for example, no matter Csikszentmihalyi, Amabile or Sternberg all suggest that environment is a crucial factor contributing to the successful creativity, and the democratic environment can work with creativity education perfectly. Nonetheless, for the researchers, creativity is something more directional and functional. It relies on problem identification and generating ideas to its end, that is, creativity still needs to have some supporting elements such as knowledge, domain-relevant skills and creativity-relevant skills. In other words, democratic education can be supportive to more creative learning by constructing a supporting environment and a more student- centred learning, but, in order to make more creative products (especially those are highly valued by others), the provision of knowledge and relevant skills are equally important.
If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please click on the link below to request removal: