DPR7: Cultures in Resistance

The 7th Conference of the Discourse, Power, Resistance Series

18– 20 March 2008
Manchester Metropolitan University , UK


Linda Eastwood and Chris Ormondroyd
University of Huddersfield, UK

Big Creativity: Fear and Loathing of a Pedagogy of Possibility

This paper shifts the focus away from the current ‘creativity bandwagon’ in education to pose questions about the unrealised potential of Big Creativity, that which manifests in world changing knowledge and actions. The analysis eschews the current trend in education to define creativity in terms of its capacity to produce artefacts and knowledge defined as ‘valuable’ by communities of practitioners. Such emphases deny creativity its potential for social transformation and illuminate a paradox in that by binding creativity within the fold of neo-liberal and neo-conservative discourses, its latent promise is muted.

The paper argues that education’s inherent conservatism not only prevents Big Creativity, but actively denies it as a pedagogy of possibility. Drawing on largely theoretical and ontological themes the paper sites Big Creativity alongside Critical Pedagogy in posing questions about the education and training of teaching practitioners in Further and Higher Education. Developments in knowledge over the past 30 years demonstrate the ring fenced conservatism inherent in the practitioner training curriculum, culminating in the paradox that as postmodern theory refutes the possibility of meta-narratives, neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideology has established a paradigm of ‘no possibility’ in both policy and practice.

The paper examines the cultural restraint in engaging with Big Creativity and concludes that the biggest risk confronting educationalists and policy makers is to embrace vision and a meta-narrative of ‘possibility.’ It poses questions concerning the fundamental role of teaching practitioners in further and higher education and argues that despite the inherent risks, an embrace of Big Creativity as a pedagogy of possibility should be the focus for curriculum reform.