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How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?

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How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Dot Jackson - Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 7:13 PM
Hi all, I invite you to review my paper and I look forward to reading your comments. Dot
Branko Bognar
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Branko Bognar - Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 8:41 PM
Dear Dot,

I am happy that I have an opportunity to write a review of your account "How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education students' creativity in design and technology? Finding the courage to move from craft to creativity in primary design and technology" since creativity is a topic my interest too.
Your paper represents a valuable attempt to show "ways of developing new, more supportive pedagogies that would encourage the independent creativity of students, and enable them to move from a safe practice of reproducing products", for which you use the term 'craft', "towards a more risky practice of creating original designs." I consider that this topic is very important since the creativity, from my point of view, is in an ordinary practice often neglected. Design and technology is without any doubt a field of modern society in which creativity is not just welcomed, but in which it is a precondition of any development and even survival. Therefore, such attempts to improve creativity are fundamental, not only for personal development of students, but also for the wellbeing of a society.
I consider that in your paper is very well explained why this topic is important not only for your practice but also for a wider social context. Each of your claims is corroborated by plenty of references from relevant literature. This shows that you are very well informed about the topic of your research.
Your paper is carefully methodologically organized and it gives us the clear picture about the outcomes which you obtained over two academic years. Conclusions are corroborated with evidences generated by different data-collection methods, that is, methods triangulation (Patton, 1990, p.464). Without any doubt, this strengthens results and interpretations of your research.
Although I consider that your paper could be published as it is I would give you several suggestions how it could be improved. Certainly, you need to decide which of the following suggestions are acceptable for you:
  1. According suggestion professor Jean McNiff it is advisable to avoid using acronyms (see
  2. I suppose that majority of journals have their own reference style guidelines. Therefore I would recommend respecting our guidelines for a paper submission which is mostly based on APA style (see This could help us in preparing your paper for publishing. Certainly, if you would not adjust your paper according our guidelines, somebody (probably me) should do this instead of you.
  3. I would suggest including some information about you personally, and about your professional context. Namely, without understanding your professional circumstances I, and probably other readers, could hardly completely understand that you have obtained. Therefore, it would be helpful to find out more about you, your students, professional conditions, organizational aspects of your practice etc.
  4. My opinion is that description and explanation of the process is as important as presenting outcomes. Descriptions of the procedures which you utilized to obtained outcomes have, in my opinion, very important educational meaning particularly for other practitioners. Therefore, I would suggest including descriptions of that you did to obtain particular outcomes.
Your account is very interesting and I would like that it be included in the new issue of EJOLTS. In addition, I would like to invite you to participate at the Conference in PoĹľega which is devoted to a creative approach to teachers' education (see

With respect,

Branko Bognar


McNiff, J. (2007, October 11). Re: In Pursuit of Counterpoint: an Educational Journey. Message posted to

Patton, M. Q. (1990). Qualitative evaluation and research methods. Newbury Park, London & New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Picture of Dot Jackson
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Dot Jackson - Monday, 27 July 2009, 10:37 AM
Hi Branko,
I attach a revised version of my paper submitted to Ejolts. Thank you for your comments to which I respond as follows;
  • I have removed acronyms as suggested. I understand that international readers may benefit from the use of full titles.
  • I have consulted the Ejolts reference guidance and complied with the style required. However I have indented some quotations from students in the text for clarity when reading the paper. Please change this if does not comply with the Ejolts style.
  • I have included more details in relevant places about me and my students to clarify the context of the research.
  • I have elaborated about the strategies used to encourage and support the development of creativity.

Thank you also for the invitation to the conference at Pozega. I will look into applying to attend if work commitments allow. I look forward to hearing your response to my changes and your consideration about publishing it in the next Ejolts journal,

With thanks,


Picture of Jane Spiro
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Jane Spiro - Tuesday, 14 July 2009, 8:36 PM

I found this article very readable and well written, and you have located your case study example very firmly and carefully in the surrounding literature. The story of moving from â€craft’ to creativity with a group of teachers who are not specialists in design, is an important and interesting one, and a very concrete account of what creativity might mean on the ground. I liked the visual images which also give a clear idea of what the activities involved, and the voices of students emerge as evidence for your claim to have made a difference.

I have though, a few concerns, some fairly broad and others local and specific.


1) You are making a very broad claim for â€making a difference’ and demonstrating your core values. Whilst I do see this in terms of students’ comments, I am not entirely clear how all the small-step activities build up to a broader skill in creative design, which can be taken beyond the classroom and translated into actual practice for your student teachers. For example, I would like to see if and how this work with you has changed what they actually do as teachers. You make a core value the desire to lead students towards independence and autonomy in their learning. But I am not quite sure what they would now be able to DO on their own, without your intervention, as a result of these classes. I’d love you to show me!

2) You also mention that you do not want to simply impart knowledge and information, but to lead students towards their own discoveries. However, as a non-design specialist, I am really very curious and interested to know what these knowledge/skill areas actually are– if you were to make explicit the skills you feel your students had developed, what would these be? How would they map over the learning outcomes that might typically be found in a design and technology syllabus? And how have these outcomes been realised in different and new ways by your activities?

3) You mention too (eg. on p. 4 and p. 5) that your students expect a directed approach in which you are the â€source of knowledge’: and also that, as a result, you often found yourself teaching in a way that was not congruent with your own beliefs (p. 7). Can you give us evidence for this? You are really asking your reader to take this on faith, but an example activity, exchange with a student, lesson or resource you have used that highlights this conflict would really be illuminating. I also find â€critical incidents’ an interesting way to show the living paradox in action. Do you have one that might highlight what you are saying here?

4) You unpack the debates connected with â€creativity’, but I think a working definition of what you mean by this would be very useful. For example, â€creative’ might have a very specific way of manifesting itself in design and technology that is different, for example, from a creative mathematician. What does â€creative’ look like in your field? How would you recognise it? And when you ask students to â€present their work in a creative way’ (p. 10), how exactly do you frame this or explain this so it makes sense to them?

5) There is quite a liberal referencing to other literature –eg. Spendlove, Butterworth on p. 4. I have the sense here that you are referring to specific craft principles, which would help to ground my knowledge as a reader. But they are mentioned in passing, and it is only by checking back to your biblio that I see many of these references are craft-specific. Some of the language you use and accounts of activity are submerging the discipline specificity of your subject- and I think you could give more centrality to this. (eg. see suggestions about p. 4).


p. 4 When you refer to Spendlove and Butterworth in parenthesis, I feel there is something really interesting here being referred to in passing. A revised sentence might read: â€Craft’ emphasises the importance of originality, user and purpose ---†and then tell us why, how, with what results, who says etc.

p. 6 You’ve missed out a word 9 lines up from the second paragraph – â€everyone can experience from successful creative.’

p. 8 You mention students †may have chosen to develop a subject interest’. I feel I need to know more exactly about who these students are: are they initial pre-service teachers? Is this an option within their training programme? what stage in their development is this course? Have they had any teaching experience before or concurrent with this?

Data collection: the opening paragraph here I think fits better under â€What data did I gather?’ with the second paragraph being flagged as ethical considerations.

Ethical considerations paragraph: in addition, I think I’d like to have assurance that students knew their work with you would not influence their assessment.

p. 9 At the bottom you quote Taylor â€trying to encourage children to use me as a tool for their learning’. At surface level, this could appear to contradict your stated aim on p. 5 â€where we are all simultaneously teachers and students’. The Taylor quotation does suggest that the teacher is differentiated from the learner, and they do not merge into one identity. So I’d be interested in how you relate this statement to your earlier one and showing how the two could be compatible.

p. 10 You mention you had reduced time for sessions with your students. Was this important? Did you mention this earlier?

After What was the outcome, I think you mean that group B comprised students K to P (not J to P)?

p. 12 You mention at the top of the page that you prioritised certain activities over others. Can you tell us what these priorities were?

p. 16 Figure 3: I’d like to know more about the wheel and axle vehicle. Was this created by a student? What was the task that generated this? The pictures are unusual and interesting, but would have more power if there was an explanation or evaluation of these- either yours, or the students own statement about them. How do the Harry Potter glasses work? How does the night light work? (Figures 5 and 6)? Was there any articulation of ideas by the student?

p. 19 It’s great that you had a panel of critical friends to respond to these questions. But what did these critical friends say and how did you learn from them? You list the questions themselves, but not what resulted from them.


This is a refreshing and concrete account of an excellent teacher in process and practice, but I would like to see more specificity about subject discipline, and more articulation of what it means to be creative within this subject discipline. I would also like to understand the challenges more clearly so I can see (as the title says) why this approach amounts to an act of courage. Accept with revisions

Picture of Dot Jackson
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Dot Jackson - Monday, 27 July 2009, 10:39 AM

Hi Jane,

I have read your responses to my paper ‘How do I learn to inspire and support students’ creativity in design and technology?’ and thank you for the time you spent reviewing it and the carefully considered comments that you make. I value your critique and suggestions for improving the paper for Ejolts’ readers. Below are my responses to your review;

1 A range of quotations from students included in the paper, particularly that of student P on page 15 show an intention of taking creative awareness into practice. As my participants were in training they have not yet had much experience as classroom teachers and your comment was useful in suggesting to me that contacting the participants in future might provide a valuable development for my research.

2. I have elaborated further about the importance of originality and a purpose in designs and products throughout the text in places. I have also added a link to the National Curriculum for design and technology for primary children and what ‘creativity’ means in context of the English National Curriculum on page 6.

3. Additional information on page 5 addresses this point.

4. The web link to the National Curriculum on page 6 gives a working definition and I have added information on page 11. The ‘You tube’ clip from Edward de Bono outlining the nature of creativity in general is also appropriate for design and technology. I have edited the text on page 11 to read more clearly. Students have specific academic readings, which we discuss and they include chapters from books and research papers explaining creativity in primary design and technology.

5. I refer again to the de Bono ‘You tube’ clip which I included to explain that creativity in general requires originality and purpose and may be the result of bringing together two previously unrelated ideas/ designs. See also the web link to a definition for creativity (P6) in the context of education. The subject specific references are important in the context of my research which is specifically about creativity in design and technology and developed from my concern that is outlined in the text. This is that many schools in my experience (and my students come from such schools) interpret design and technology in the primary phase as any form of making products- frequently reproducing existing designs. Whilst 'making skills' and techniques can be learnt in such activities, there are missed opportunities for designing truly original, creative products with a user and purpose in mind. This is explained in the text by the example of ‘Cecil the snake lamp’ (P18). The student had planned to reproduce a lighthouse but with discussion about creativity, real user and real purpose she came up ‘Cecil’!

Local Suggestions

Specific comments are addressed in the text.

I hope I have clarified and strengthened the paper by addressing the above and look forward to hearing your response.



Picture of Jane Spiro
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Jane Spiro - Saturday, 15 August 2009, 6:26 PM
I find this article now self-contained and readable, and it explains and
demonstrates its claims clearly. For example, I see the steps in the
teaching design more clearly, and the examples offered- such as the
vehicle/monster, are explained now with reference to specific skills and
principles of design. The references are also embedded more clearly into
the debate so the reader understands what is derived from each - eg. the
Spendlove reference. These references do not now block the flow of
argument but add to it. Although the 'back story' is not detailed of how
you taught before this action research, your explanations of this do make
sense in the light of your listed changes. I like, as before, the
qualitative statements from the teachers themselves, and the charts
showing their views of creativity and how these change. The account of
creativity is brief and helpful in the light of this paper- you refer to
teachers' own view of what this means, and their own perception of whether
they possess this or not. In some ways, this has a pleasing simplicity and
clarity that works fine within your paper.
I still tend to want more information about the actual activities that led
to these teacher changes. You mention just one, about the objects which
students respond to: but more would have been interesting.
You also pass very briefly over the critique offered by your critical
friends- I'd like to have known what their 'critique' included and how
this related to your own perceptions.
I'd also be interested in future research questions about the
transferability of this self-esteem and skill into the students' future

This is a very well written and readable account. I found just one typo in
the title of Fig. 6 - a the Lost Boys.

Yes, I recommend this for publication, with just a few possible editorial
tweaks as suggested above.

Picture of Dot Jackson
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Dot Jackson - Tuesday, 25 August 2009, 8:33 PM

Hi Jane,

Thanks for your useful comments which are particularly useful  to help clarify the paper for readers who may not be familiar with my contex. I have addressed your comments as follows;

  • I have added details about the support my critical friends provided (p2)
  • I have added details about the nature of creativity starters (p14-15)
  • I have addressed the typo

I am consulting Branko about formatting the paper for publication in the agreed style as I have not been able to access the template. Thanks for your comments,


Branko Bognar
Re: How do I learn to inspire and support my primary education student's creativity in design and technology?
by Branko Bognar - Tuesday, 18 August 2009, 1:49 PM
Dear Dot, I think that you paper is additionally strengthened in the new version. Therefore, I think it could be published in the new issue of EJOLTS. However, I would kindly ask you to check references which are not in accordance with APA style (see and and our Submission Guidelines (see