This is a translation of a critical abstract on the work of Professor Carmen Balart Carmona of the Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación – UMCE (Metropolitan University of Education Sciences) in Santiago, Chile. Ms Balart is a member of the Department of Castilian in the Faculty of History, Geography and Letters (Departamento de Castellano, Facultad de Historia, Geografía y Letras).
Strategies for Stimulating Creativity in Latin American Youth: Taking a fresh approach to language studies
To be a creative member of the culture is something that every society that wishes to be a successful society should desire of every person, and something that in turn each person should aspire to. But such a goal is currently not realized nor supported by the institutions of our own society. At present, ‘creativity’ is not taught in our schools and universities. The concept of creativity itself is often seen as something that actually cannot be taught, as a personal attribute that people are either born with or not, and even then it is commonly deemed as an unimportant attribute that is only relevant to careers in the arts. This is a point of view that needs to be corrected. Creativity is increasingly seen by researchers across a broad range of fields and disciplines as an essential ingredient to success in all endeavors: in the sciences; engineering; business and commerce; politics; medicine; research and education to name but a few examples. ‘Creativity’ can be taught and, most importantly, ‘creativity’ can be applied by those who have learned to think creatively. This notion is not ambitious, but is a legitimate development that must be incorporated into the fabric of Latin-American education.
Generally, whenever the issues of pedagogy and national development are discussed, particularly in relation to what should be the central pillars of development, we fall immediately to reducing debate solely to the economic aspects, and fall short of seeing other methods of catalyzing progress, like the creative development of the young people. It is with this perspective and conviction that the teacher Carmen Balart (together with her team in the UMCE, of Chile) has worked for many years, formulating strategies to stimulate creativity in people through the methods employed in the teaching of the native language (in this case Castilian – i.e. Spanish).
The measures developed by Balart and her team are designed to generate in students an intellectual stimulation that awakes in them a ‘restlessness’ to go in search of ‘learning’ and to adapt existing ideas to new or novel applications in their own problem-solving and decision-making.
And the language, and the tools of language, is seen as one way to achieve this and to incorporate such practices of thought into every day life. Balart’s approach is predicated on the idea that “only once we have participated in our own experiences can we then relate them to other similar experiences, and from there to link with previous knowledge, until arriving gradually at the concept that is wanted to treat the problem at hand”. This approach breaks with several existing models of how education is acquired and specifically what constitutes a ‘typical class’, so that the teachers will need to know only certain core topics, for the rest can be read directly in any text of study.
I invite the interested practitioner and those concerned laypersons looking for new approaches to education to read the articles and research of Professor Balart. Much of the contemporary literature does not treat seriously the issues of creativity nor generate discussion of this problem so little taken into account by our politicians, but which is so serious an issue for the future development of our America. If the decision-makers on education policy and curricula development are looking for new directions to explore I do not hesitate to point them in the direction of the cutting-edge approaches being produced in the Faculty of History, Geography and Letters of the UMCE by Ms Balart and company.
The pedagogical manual Strategies to Stimulate Creativity Across the Education of Language (Estrategias para estimular la creatividad a través de la enseñanza de la lengua) by Carmen Balart C. and Irma Césped B. can be found at the following link: http://www.umce.cl/%7Ecipumce/cuadernos/facu ltad_de_historia/metodologia/cuaderno_01/estrategia_estimular_creatividad_indice.htm
Original abstract written by Jona.