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David Cameron: Innovation and Creative Education

November, 2015
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“Our ambition must not simply be to enable our learners to adapt to the circumstances that they find themselves in, it must be to enable them to change and improve those circumstances,” stated renowned presenter and trainer David Cameron, elaborating his understanding about innovation and creative education at the Festival of Education held at Wellington College International Shanghai on 23 and 24 October.

Sharing same name and nationality with the British Prime Minister, David, calling himself “Real David Cameron,” has worked in every sector from Early Years to Further Education across the UK and has been in demand, particularly for his work on creativity, curriculum and learning right across the world.

Innovation and creativity are essential now because of globalization and the massive technological changes people are facing today that require all of us to be competitive. Creativity needs challenge rather than closed tasks, but too often “we educate who can comply rather than challenge,” says Cameron. He insists that education should be about providing more collaboration, less coaching and more questions than answers. Creative learning allows students the time and space to find meaning. It is based as much on encouraging questions as providing answers.

Innovative and creative education doesn’t necessarily have to be new. For example, music education is a gateway to lifelong learning. It helps to develop a learners’ ability to decode, which is an ability very useful not only for studies across different subjects on campus, but also for life after school, like understanding the culture in a company, etc. The fast-changing nature of society demands more educated and mobilized talents who have broader competencies and are able to move between jobs.  “The ability to make links is the highest skill one can have,” says Cameron. 

He believes innovative education is based on deep and thorough understanding of the learners. Teachers need to engage with learners to find out their strength or weakness and who they want to be in future, but without the need to label. Only by such understanding can teachers design the sort of learning that is varied and applicable for different students. In the meantime, the learning needs to be based on students’ gifts, not deficits.

With many years of teaching experience in national and regional schools, Cameron agrees that to engage with students requires much time and efforts from the teachers. However, “in the long run, to be engaging is beneficial for both sides, and the more you practice the better you will be,” he says. “Teaching is investing – teachers need to find out more about who they are investing in. And the best return for every teacher is to watch the student progress.”

While focusing on innovation and creativity, Cameron does not neglect basic skills like literacy and numeracy, as well as the specific skills required by disciplines or vocational choices. In his opinion, to achieve academic qualifications is of the same importance as the ability to innovate and create.  Schools need to design the curricula that are both drawn forward from the learner and backwards from the tests. “We need schools that walk on both lines,” Cameron says.

As a contributor to the development of national educational policy, Cameron likes to communicate with his peers in various parts of the world. “I just want to engage in discussion and debate so that I keep on learning and sharing what I have learned. There is no such thing as one education system being right and the others being wrong. No matter in which system or area, what I see are teachers who really love their students and doing what they truly believe is good to the students.”

Cameron has just completed a booklet with his colleague, Sir Tim Brighouse, entitled, 10 Challenges to Leading a Truly Creative School. It is free, short and colorful, and available through Hays Education. If you are interested in finding out more about David Cameron and his concepts of education, you can go to @realcameron on Twitter or YouTube.


By Catherine Deng 


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