‘Born Originals, how comes it to pass we die Copies?’ (Edward Young): A case study analysing the Masters’ thesis as a vehicle for student creativity, engagement, and transformative learning.
AbstractThe poet Edward Young’s question in Trilling (1972) poses an important question for educators: how best to resist the pervasive tendency towards conventionalisation of thought and action and support students to discover their authentic voice and place within their chosen discipline and field? Teachers in higher education are often exhorted to stimulate and develop their students’ creativity through creative teaching methods as the antidote to standardisation, but they may have limited knowledge of creative approaches to teaching or baulk at what they perceive as the additional work required to implement them (Jackson et al, 2006). This single case study focuses on ‘Sarah’, a primary school teacher studying for the MA in Education at the University of Sunderland. Sarah engaged deeply and emotionally (even passionately) to produce a 20,000 word research thesis that stood out for its moments of inspiration, originality and discovery, elements often associated with creativity. The case study explores in what ways the process and outcomes were creative with reference to the concept of ‘little c’ creativity and reminds us that the familiar student task of producing a Masters’ research thesis does offer a framework and scope for creative engagement. It concludes that a key to helping students to engage creatively is to help them to tap into their own deeply held and felt values.
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