As creativity, innovation, self-expression, collaboration, reflection, ability to focus are important attributes for learners to develop, we need to do all we can to create the opportunities for young people to develop them with the help (or not) of their teachers, communities, and environment.
I am sure many of us have seen lots of wonderfully creative ideas – that have ended up being a hinderance and then hidden away in the storeroom. They range from great ideas that can only be used one way to things that look good but actually don’t help learners develop. I’ve seen wonderfully 'creative furniture' that looked great but actually limited creativity. Furniture made for a purpose that couldn’t really be used for another; different tables for different purposes that flummoxed teachers when they needed everyone to have the same type of table; great furniture that was then found to be too big or awkwardly shaped to be rearranged. On the other hand, I’ve seen lots of examples of highly creative use of very basic furniture. The latter was always better – small tables and chairs that could be easily and quickly rearranged to suit whatever learners or teachers required – open spaces: tables to the sides; group learning: tables bunched together, class discussion: tables arranged in a circle; and if you’re doing exams: rows, and so on. Also, usually, the simpler things are, the easier they are replaced.
So, don’t just think about things looking creative (and this doesn't necessarily equal 'modern') but think about what you have as being flexible so that people can be creative. And if you have old but flexible furniture in your school but can’t afford to replace it, don’t be embarrassed, just make sure your learners and teachers show parents and visitors know, how creative you are in the way you use your furniture!
As I once said to a creative furniture salesperson: 'It is the people we want to be creative not the furniture!'
What do you think? Am I missing something?