Virginia Mawer
Creativity Sub-skills: Applying innovative thinking strategies to teaching and learning

To teach 21st century students, we need to be innovative thinkers. And in order to truly innovate, we need to employ creative thinking, which centres around new ideas, but is also concerned with creating unexpected connections between existing ideas.

Creative thinking is a skill that can be learnt and improved, rather than an innate ability that is bestowed upon the few. By learning and developing creative thinking strategies, we can think differently to create new solutions to old problems. These can include new ways to approach teaching and learning through lesson and course preparation, delivery, feedback and homework. This can help increase student engagement and energy levels, problem solving opportunities as well as provide variety within lessons, increased student agency and ownership of learning.

This workshop will provide a number of creative activities that you can use in your next class, as well as offer a series of creative thinking “sub-skills” and the opportunity to put these strategies into practice. The possibilities are infinite when simple creative strategies are applied. We’ll learn how to make use of techniques used by creative professionals, such as list-making, unusual connections, the “yes, and” technique, employing the absurd and engaging in serious play.

By modelling creativity, we may be able to provide students with necessary tools for their academic lives and for their futures. They will need to be “literate” in divergent and convergent thinking, spontaneity, tolerating mistakes, finding comfort in ambiguity and the unfamiliar. These creative skills are vital to our students and ourselves, and allow innovation to occur on a daily basis.

Virginia has over ten years' experience in the ESL classroom and has taught a variety of general, academic and exam courses. She has taught in Sydney, Melbourne and Italy and has created and as tools for teachers and students alike. In the classroom, Virginia draws from her experience as a performer, artist and translator, using humour to de-stress the stressed and to wake the sleepy. She hopes to travel and work in every continent and to one day be able to sing in 5 languages.