When Harvard Graduate School of Education published The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education in 2009, they were determined to illustrate what “quality” looks like in arts education. Similarly, at Kadenze, we were determined to illustrate what “quality” looks like when designing a course addressing a pedagogy of creativity. We identified seven essential qualities which need to feature in any substantial and transformatory course on learning design for creative learning. All seven can be found in Program 1: Your Joyful 21st Century Learning Framework launched this week by Kadenze, Inc.

Firstly, the course needs to address ‘the Creativity Challenge’ in contemporary education. What does a pedagogy of creativity entail, and the social and economic costs of stifling creativity at a young age.

Secondly it needs to be based around an integrated and coherent framework for using technology in education. In Kadenze’s case we have called this framework TECL, short for Technology Enabled Creative Learning (TECL). The principles of such a framework need to be made explicit, for it is by applying those principles that teachers will grow their artful teaching practice.

The third quality needed is a comprehensive and balanced approach to setting goals and outcomes for learning. In an educational world obsessed with measurement, predictable behavioural objectives have become the norm. The creative challenge is to deploy Expressive Outcomes (from Eliot Eisner), alongside Behavioural objectives and Problem-solving objectives.

Quality number four addresses how learning pathways can be curated within a spectrum of expressivity so as to sidestep dull routine and repetition and build adventure and alliance into courses.

The next requisite quality of courses addressing a pedagogy of creativity flows directly from our post-COVID educational environments and challenges all educators to consider how ‘hyflexing’ can be effective when it comes to orchestrating live, synchronous and asynchronous modes of delivery.

Quality number six is the requirement to make learning personal and significant for each learner. There are a number of strategies to position students as authentic partners in their learning and in our course we work with seven of them. This opens up learning to cater for diversity; encompassing diverse learning styles, non-Western knowledge systems and motivations particular to each learner. Of course, to do that meaningfully, it is necessary to elevate student priorities over rigid course structures.

The final and seventh quality ensures that the first qualities, which are potentially radical for many, are embedded into the planning processes and practice of teachers. This means using retrieval practise to ensure teachers have adequately secured all six qualities to memory, thereby enabling them to develop the prowess to judge value and efficacy in whole-of-course design, and connoisseurship in course evaluation and critique.

The authors who planned and fabricated this course know where they stand as educators. The experience of ‘Joy’ needs to be present in all learning, not necessarily in ecstatic measure all the time, but distinctly felt, and so add pleasure and incentive to the stretch all of us must make to ‘know’ topics of high challenge and high worth. Consequently, joy needs to sit alongside curiosity, inventiveness, imagination, and feelings of independence, respect, partnering well, high challenge and tolerance of ambiguity. We designed the course knowing that ‘there is no such thing as good teaching, only teaching that is good for certain purposes or outcomes’. We have drawn on the learning sciences when proven and useful, as well as longstanding traditions in the philosophy of education and aesthetics (these days understood as the ‘user experience’). We understand teachers are experiencing the pressures of work intensification like never before and urgently need time-saving and workable approaches to learning design.

Boredom in the classroom is noxious. Program 1: Your Joyful 21st Century Learning Framework gives both teachers and learners the oxygen they need to experience joy in learning and, at times, wonder at the world and their place in it.

Brad Haseman, for the team of authors of Your Joyful 21st Century Learning Framework

Photo by Alex Alvarez on Unsplash