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Creative Campus
essay [ ]

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by [Ed ]

2008-10-03  |     | 

It is interesting to know that one of the busiest places on earth today is the place where most of us usually go if not all at a certain period in our lives. Do you know what this place is? It is a school campus. Unlike home, a campus is just a second type of institution for most people whose learning demands grow rapidly. In the twenty first century educational systems, a man or woman were once a naïve, innocent and unsuspecting child who first enter a Daycare Center or a Kindergarten School, which actually gave them a first hand experience of a “little campus”. Though it is popularly accepted that “home is the basic unit of a society”, one cannot undermine the vital role of a school or a campus in today’s ever changing society. Some sort of political forms that control all the other units, including schools, governs each society. Regardless which form of government that regulates or supports a school system, it is always safe to assume that it fosters the implementation of some kind of program that assures individual development through educational goals and objectives. That next to home or family life an individual learner may have better chances of improving him or herself as they progress from kindergarten, primary, high school, to college levels. In each level, an individual is somehow dependent or interdependent on what a school campus can offer, whether or not it can provide fully or in part the necessary things that one should know. Moreover, can it provide an atmosphere where one can build the four pillars of education as mandated by the UNESCO commission? (Learning to know; Learning to do; Learning to live together; Learning to be.) Let me try to describe what a creative campus look like in the twenty first century.

First, let us define the word “creative”. Dictionary defined it as “marked by the ability to create, form, make or organize”; “imaginative”. This may sound so simple yet so powerful. Simple because it is easy to understand, and powerful when one can learn and experience first hand how to create, form, make or organize something. So, a creative campus can be seen with fully organized staff or workers, or professional mentors who can initiate, carry on, or implement any programs or methods that attract students’ interests to help them become more creative ones themselves. Students can be seen in this campus busy not only doing their homework and studying, but also seeking their own opportunities to grow in their fields of interests. Maybe some are engaged in scholarly discussions on real life issues that affect their future, while others may anxiously engaged in friendly sports competition. You can see in this campus, smiling faces all around the corners knowing that “…life is but a dream.” as the nursery song goes. Most of the happy moments that can be felt all around are like flowers in May, full of beauty, fragrance and life.
The synonym of creative is simply “imaginative”. This reminds us of Albert Einstein, who said that “imagination is better than knowledge…”. Schools should nurture creativity and imagination or foster a campus with a degree of creative thinkers among teachers and students at least and not just allow students to wander with their daily learning routines from their teachers who follow the daily routine type of curriculum. This may sound, “easier said than done” kind of thing but the good thing about becoming creative is that it always pay a higher price to get desirable results. As in other financial operating systems, paying higher means a better quality, more secured conditions and more efficient parts of whatever is the whole of it is. This is why being creative does not always mean that one should follow some century old patterns of norms or standards. Being creative is actually being dynamic, innovative, or inventive. This brings us to the most unique characteristic of a creative campus, becoming an originator of something. This may mean a campus with independent body of existing dynamic individuals who can be “originals” in areas of great importance in educational system. This includes being able to adopt some changes or should we say able to adjust to the adjustments being made as a result from creative or innovative endeavors. Indeed, it might be very difficult to build a creative campus but to the optimists, it can be done. So, how to start building even just an atmosphere of a creative campus? That’s the next part of discussion, the “How” part.
Since a campus is not only a piece of land with some kind of landscape and huge edifices, it is always safe to consider the moving “creatures” responsible to “create” this creative, dynamic, inventive, and innovative campus. The “creatures” referred here are the students, teachers, parents, and all the administrative and auxiliary professionals, who are all parts of the whole. Imagined, if from top to bottom all make a ripple effect to create or recreate a creative campus, it would surely come to pass not as a dream anymore but a real creative campus to enjoy and become a catalyst in an ever-changing world. Top to bottom here refers to the starting point of being creative should be found on the top of a school campus. Innovative administration can plan a fair and just reward system to workforce (teachers and other laborers) as they emphasize the value of original ideas to promote goodwill and efficiency in the workplace. Goodwill means incorporating the third pillar of education; learning to live together among faculty and non-faculty staff. Efficiency here refers to the fourth pillar of education; learning to be. Being an effective teacher is not just causing some effects into students’ score or course performance. As the fourth pillar implied, an effective teacher affects students’ performance, and not just caused an effect on them. A student may know the full measure of his or her potential or what would he or she become with the help of a patient, loving, kind, and tolerant teacher. In addition, a teacher in a creative campus should also be engaged in some kind of academic pursuit such as a scholarly inquiry about one’s own performance by conducting an action research. What is an Action Research? Here is a quote from a team of creative professional in this field: “Action research is inquiry or research in the context of focused efforts to improve the quality of an organization and its performance. It typically is designed and conducted by practitioners who analyze the data to improve their own practice. Action research can be done by individuals or by teams of colleagues. The team approach is called collaborative inquiry. …has the potential to generate genuine and sustained improvements in schools. It gives educators new opportunities to reflect on and assess their teaching; to explore and test new ideas, methods, and materials; to assess how effective the new approaches were; to share feedback with fellow team members; and to make decisions about which new approaches to include in the team's curriculum, instruction, and assessment plans.” - Sagor, Richard Et. Al. (1992).
This is again not an easy thing to do or even to imagine if one is not familiar with the art and craft of teaching, but everything can be learned. Just imagine if a teacher asks his students to do something, let say to write a journal or an article but he or she haven’t done any article yet so far. This is just one area of concern in a ripple effect mode. What about the students? What type of students would there be in a creative campus? Would it be possible to imagine seeing some highly motivated students who volunteer themselves to organize some academic contests such as speech, drama, or story-telling contests? Maybe yes, maybe no, it actually depends on how creative are the teachers or should we say how highly motivated are they to do their part in the process of building such a creative campus. Teachers are actually mentors and not as tormentors to their students, then the process may move faster. Where teachers are mentors to their students, most likely the administrative people are also mentors themselves and do their “homework” so to speak. This means that they try all what is necessary to observe some governing principles from the international standpoint (that is, UNESCO’s current standards) to insure a policy-making body that can promote and protect a creative campus. In this way, some “whirlwind decisions” to hire or to fire can be avoided. Instead, the choice of such decisions are based or guided on how creative one was or is, and not just how well one knows someone inside. In fact, if everything is followed seriously from top to bottom, respect, loyalty, and dedication in the part of each member of the campus will flow from bottom to top without compulsion or coercion. Everything will just fall in its proper order and place. Most if not all students will never be attracted to other campuses and would surely decide to stay in this kind of campus until their graduation day. Few teachers or none at all would make some “whirlwind decisions” to leave their job or be attracted to other campuses. Consequently, faculty or students from other campuses would be transferring to this creative campus and enjoy the dynamic things going on in there. Again, is it difficult? Yes, it is, but is it possible? The answer to this is actually all up to the whole unit of a system in which an educational standard thrives. It maybe difficult but one can strongly believe it is possible.

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