Intellectual Podcast №7

On Boosting Students’ Creativity through Teaching Arts 

Alun Williams is the founding principal of the Forsan British School in Alexandria, Egypt and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Institute of Chartered Management and the College of Teachers

Alun started his career as an art teacher. For the next twenty years, he worked in schools in the UK taking on various roles of responsibility in both private and state schools. From 1995-97 Alun studied for his Master in Education Management degree at Cardiff University. In 2000, he decided his future lay in international education which began a journey across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

He has been an International School Principal four times now and opened new schools in both Cairo and Alexandria. Other roles have included Training & Curriculum Specialist, Consultant Trainer and School Improvement Partner. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Institute of Chartered Management and the College of Teachers. In 2011, at the African Business Leadership Conference in London, Alun was the winner of the Innovative Academy Award. In 2019, his school was short-listed as the best International School at the Times Educational Awards, London.

In his video, Alun Williams introduces the concept of transability which he defines as “the transfer of all knowledge and experience along with the passion for the learning” from a teacher to students so that they exceed their teacher in becoming successful. The concept is illustrated through teaching art in its diversity and multifacetedness. He explains the value of mind maps and the holistic process of creativity which lies in the cycle of researching, reviewing, selecting, blending and renewing the art material to produce something original and unique.

Alun exemplifies how students can record creative products in a first-hand and second-hand way – it can be a journal with mind maps or sketches, a portfolio, a wall display, a slide presentation, a TED talk and many others. He finds it useful to foster students’ reflexive and assessment skills when they should develop their criteria for assessing their art product. Another way to burst students’ imagination and motivation to create is to expand the web of communication and environment at the cross-curricular level inside and beyond the school.

Alun Williams concludes with a quote from Ken Robinson who said that “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status”. Alongside the creativity, the speaker emphasizes that educators should focus on teaching students critical thinking and problem-solving skills – thinking without limits.