Creative thinking from Worshop - Copenhagen, 24 March 2015

Imagination in the Classroom, WORKSHOP

– notes from Copenhagen 24 March 2015





= double decker bus









= washing up









= standing ovation




= sitting on top of the world


SIGHT         LOVE



= love at first sight


Activity taken from Multiple Intelligence in EFL, Herbert Puchta & Mario Rinvolucri, Hebling Languages


      Educating people entirely through left-brain activities of the academic curriculum is like training somebody for a race by exercising only one leg while leaving the muscles of the other leg to atrophy.

James Hemmings, The Betrayal of Youth, 1980

Copenhagen 24th March - presentation

Imagination in the Classroom – notes from Copenhagen 24 March 2015

Choose a letter of the alphabet and keep all this secret. Write down the following beginning with that letter.

            first name



            hobby / sport



e.g. this is what they mean

            first name - Dorothy

            animal = family name - Dinosaur

            job - dentist

            hobby / sport - diving

            favourite food – doughnuts


Model the Q&A and let learners get to know each other.


       “NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them.”
Charles Dickens, Hard Times

When the focus was all on learning facts by heart. Has it changed?

What is a horse?
A beautiful, brave, powerful animal? NO!
'Quadruped. Graminivorous. Forty teeth, namely twenty-four
grinders, four eye-teeth, and twelve incisive. Sheds coat in the
spring; in marshy countries, sheds hoofs, too. Hoofs hard, but
requiring to be shod with iron. Age known by marks in mouth.’


Alas learning still seems to be all about:

One size fits all

Learning is linear

Idea of fixed ability

Facts are important

Examination success is the goal


Yet there is a change of focus: 


what we know about language

to what we can do with it

Common European Framework of Reference



       Skills that were appropriate 20 years ago no longer prepare children for the world beyond school.. Changes in society are accelerating so rapidly that it is difficult to assess what factual knowledge will be needed for the future..

       Robert Fisher, Teaching Children to Think, 1990



       John Holt says that learning and experimenting is natural for children..

The child is curious…wants to make sense of things… is open and receptive… experimental.. bold… not afraid of making mistakes… is patient…can tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance and suspense..


       Imagination is an essential part of human intelligence.

       Creativity is applied imagination

       Ken Robinson, Out Of Our Minds, Capstone, 2001


UK National Curriculum Report, 1988, lists the following attitudes as ‘important at all stages of education’:


Respect for evidence

Willingness to tolerate uncertainty

Critical reflection


Creativity and inventiveness


Co-operation with others


Why be creative?

If we have 30 students in one class, they could go on to have 30 very different jobs.

They may change careers at least once in their lives.

Their jobs are likely to require thinking skills beyond knowing facts.

They will want a richer life than just a nine to five job.

They need to go on learning.



       The most important attitude that can be formed is that of the desire to go on learning..

       John Dewey, 1938

       (1859 – 1952,  American philosopher

       and educational reformer)



Using the words below make a one word sentence, then a two word sentence, then three, then four …. And keep going

teenagers     parents         radio 

            cows  coffee              politics      

a   in   on   an   to   we   their    I

sexy  green  fat  rich   quickly

dancing          is       eat  was  say  think



…feel best in flow.. fully involved in meeting a challenge, solving a problem, discovering something new. Most activities that produce flow also have clear goals, clear rules and immediate feedback..



Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

Albert Einstein


How many things can you do with chop sticks?



       The only time my education was interrupted was while I was at school.

Winston Churchill



Why be creative in language lessons?

We are all different

Different response to same stimuli enrich learning


Play with ideas and language

Make language and learning meaningful

Satisfaction - flow

Use language for a reason

Push what we use language for






20 March 1st Cambridge Symposium Istanbul

Exams carrots or sticks?

How preparing for exams can inject focus and motivation into our English classes

Key slides from my plenary at the 1st Cambridge Istanbul Symposium, 20 March 2015


Why do we learn English?

To get a better job

To travel

To access culture

To access information

To communicate with people globally

Everyone whos anyone speaks English!


Our students need

immediate goals

a step by step approach

sense of direction



to get organised

see progress

a sense of success




Everyone can experience feelings of resolve and a commitment to think more and to dare more and of being poised to learn and ready to take the next step.
Martin V. Covington, The Will to Learn, Cambridge University Press


John Atkinsons Theory of Motivation:
    All individuals can be characterised by two learned drives, a motive to approach success and a motive to avoid failure.


The anticipation of success and its emotional correlates of pride and exhilaration combine to produce a trust in the future and in life in general.
John Atkinson, An Introduction to Motivation, Princeton


Checklist for class tasks:

Why did we do this?

Which skills / language areas did we practise?

Did I learn something new?

Which parts of the exam is this useful for?



we feel best in flow.. fully involved in meeting a challenge, solving a problem, discovering something new. Most activities that produce flow also have clear goals
Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow, Basic Books, 1998



They need superb attention, planning and organisational skills, all of which develop more slowly in boys
Frances E Jensen, The Teenage Brain, Thorsons, 2015



Introduce different ways of planning

Bring in texts on effective study skills

Have a discussion / role play on topic

Check that students have own strategy / scheme

Get parents onside


Everyone can succeed if we
achieve a realistic match between the individuals present capacities and the demands of the achievement task
Henry Widdowson


The CEFR states we must celebrate learning steps!!