On Creativity: is ‘might’ the answer…as well as the question?

The eminent, and now sadly departed, educationalist Dorothy Heathcote used to say that the most powerful word in education is the word ‘might’.

Asking a student ‘what MIGHT be the answer?’ rather than ‘what IS the answer?’ opens up the possibilities, the questioning, the pondering, the wondering….the creativity.’

Our handbooks say things like (and I know, because I’ve written them as well) “On the completion of this module/course/program the student WILL be able to demonstrate a, b, c, d…..”We don’t write “On completion of this module/ course/ programme the student may be able to do THIS pretty well, but they also might be able to do THAT even better, and what’s more, they may be able to do stuff we haven’t even though of yet”.

But that sort of language and thinking doesn’t go down too well at the validation board, or with the quality assurance people, or with the policy makers, who require everything to be identified, categorised and pinned down, like a collection of dead butterflies.

How can we/do we – in education – break out of the ever tightening circle of predict and provide, control and compliance?

* * * * *
(Dorothy Heathcote’s obituary in The Guardian)


Author: Paul Kleiman

Academic, researcher, writer, musician, gardner, narrowboat owner, dog owner, cat servant

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