Book Review: Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer’s – Teaching Creative Thinking: Developing Learners Who Generate Ideas and Can Think Critically

by | Feb 26, 2019

Thinking about learning that really matters in a world that is unpredictable, challenging and requires nimble ways of thinking, is at the heart of Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer’s book, Teaching Creative Thinking.

There is growing evidence across the world that teaching creative thinking is no longer a watered-down side dish that is squeezed in after we have taught the “important” academic subjects. Bill Lucas and Ellen Spencer propose that the education narrative is changing, and it has to change as our uncertain world calls for additional learning, which they outline through their Five Dimensions Model for Creative Thinking.

The model contains five creative thinking capabilities that, the authors propose, matter most to students in school and later life – inquisitive, persistent, collaborative, disciplined and imaginative. Five signature pedagogies are then presented to practically bring these capabilities to life in the classroom – problem-based learning, growth Mindset, classroom as a learning community, deliberate practice and playful experimentation. Starter ideas for classroom practice are then explored through Sub-Habits that sit within each of the signature pedagogies. Now, I must admit, this is where I became a little confused!

What created my confusion was that the diagram illustrating the Five Dimensions Model for Creative Thinking was not fully introduced until Chapter 3. Timely replications of the model to support the explanation of how each capability, their respective signature pedagogies and sub-habits interacted, would have resulted in an easier read. But I would recommend perseverance, as it is a powerful model for making sense of creative thinking in a practical way. This was evident in the inclusion of case study schools the authors have worked with across the world, including in Victoria, Australia. The case studies illustrate how the Five Dimensions Model for Creative Thinking has been adapted and embedded into the very fabric of each school’s curriculum and assessment.

Teaching Creative Thinking is a guide for teachers and school leaders who really want to embed creative thinking into their curriculum and assessment practices. The book is filled with practical ideas and accessible research that builds the case for why creative thinking cannot be an add on, but an essential component of 21st-century learning.

Bern Nicholls Bern Nicholls is an authentic and passionate learner who over the 
span of her career in education has consistently kept students at the centre of all her thinking and research. Read more articles by Bern Nicholls

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