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Publish at September 07 2022 Updated September 07 2022

The Festival of the Possible

How some teachers and students are not discouraged by the lack of resources in public education

A young child's hand showing the thumb behind an educational toy. (Author of the image: Markus Spiske)

In the amphitheater audience, I feel the buzz of the participants, and soon the performances begin (first the guitar group, followed by 2014 Slam World Cup semifinalist Emerson Alcalde, and an educator who uses samba as a collaborative pedagogical medium), interspersed with testimonials from the organizers, excited and proud of the event - it's the 6th Festival of Invention and Creativity (FIC 2022).

The FIC is a festival organized by the Brazilian Creative Education Network (RBAC); a movement of educators, students, parents, artists, researchers, businesses and organizations that promote creative education.

Learning is nothing more than a game

Creative education, or creative learning, was proposed by Mitchel Resnick, a computer scientist and professor of pedagogical research at the MIT Learning Lab. It centers on "4 Ps": projects, passion, thinking through play, and peers.

In an article entitled "Everything I Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (Through Studies on How Kids Learn) in Kindergarten," Professor Resnick proposes that the traditional kindergarten way of educating (a cycle of imagining, creating, playing, sharing, reflecting, and again imagining) should continue beyond kindergarten all the way to university. However, what he sees is that kindergartens tend to follow conventional schools, with memorization of math cards or phonics alphabet tables.

Resnick is also the creator of Scratch, an easy-to-learn and easy-to-use programming language that allows no syntax errors, perfect for children and beginners. It was invented to stimulate creativity in older students; as an evolution of the kindergarten block toys.

Creative education encourages creative thinking, cooperation and experimentation, which according to Professor Resnick are essential for life in today's society, but which end up being left aside throughout the school journey.

An educational beehive

Back to the FIC, I see on the tables robotic hands, big dice with QR codes - these are the creations of students from various schools participating in RBAC (almost all public schools). The participants take part in Scratch workshops, cooperative games, writing in Braille... These projects are developed by students and educators with support from RBAC, which provides materials, trainings, and a pedagogical studio (in which teachers share activities that can serve others).

On the site, it is possible to see some of the students' creations, such as a game inspired by a book (The Chosen Princess), games to learn the multiplication table (Taboo with Brawl Stars and Microbit), developed in Scratch, and also multidisciplinary projects - in which teachers indicate the curricular contents and students create together. It is possible to see the inventiveness of the children, who combine the pedagogical content with their interests and points of view.

Creative Resistance

In Brazil, as in so many other countries, public education has suffered from a lack of resources. The recent high school reform further impedes young people's access to university, promoting a sectorized education in which teenagers risk not acquiring the theoretical foundations expected by graduation.

Seeing an initiative like FIC shows how persistent and passionate teachers are about their craft (like the teacher who worked Scratch concepts on paper with a homeless student, or the one who helped her students create a biodegradable plastic), and how they overcome lack of time or resources.

Creative education does not solve fundamental problems such as public education curriculum deficiencies, however it does develop resiliency skills that will allow students to value their creative thinking: imagining, experimenting, and collaborating (valuable lifelong skills).


References

Creative Learning (in English)
https://www.media.mit.edu/projects/creative-learning/overview/

The 4 P's (in English)
https://scratch.by/en/about/news/mitchel_resnick_the_four_ps_of_creative_learning/

Everything I Need to Know (About Creative Thinking) I Learned (Through Studies on How Children Learn) in Kindergarten
https://porvir-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/23120124/Mitchel-Resnick-Traduc%CC%A7a%CC%83o-Tudo-o-que-eu-Preciso-Saber.pdf

Scratch (in French)
https://cursus.edu/fr/17158/scratch-programmation-objet-facile-pour-tous

Brazilian Network for Creative Education
https://aprendizagemcriativa.org/

FIC 2022
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHn_xZF5V8U

Student-created game : The Chosen Princess
https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/13655707/

Working in Scratch with homeless student
https://aprendizagemcriativa.org/novidades/como-trabalhar-scratch-com-uma-crianca-que-nao-tem-nem-casa-para-morar-eu-trabalhei

The development of a biodegradable plastic
https://aprendizagemcriativa.org/novidades/ou-voce-entra-na-sala-para-cumprir-tabela-ou-faz-algo-acreditando-que-educacao-pode

About high school reform
https://diplomatique.org.br/a-farsa-do-ensino-medio-self-service/


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