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This comprehensive yet concise Handbook provides an overview of innovative approaches to, and new perspectives on, the study of creativity. In this timely work, creativity is not defined by an ideal, rather it encompasses a range of theories, functions, characteristics, processes, products and practices that are associated with the generation of novel and useful outcomes suited to particular social, cultural and political contexts. Chapters present original research by international scholars from a wide range of disciplines including history, sociology, psychology, philosophy, cultural studies, education, economics and interdisciplinary studies. Their research investigates creativity in diverse fields including art, creative industries, aesthetics, design, new media, music, arts education, science, engineering and technology. Containing cutting-edge research the Handbook of Research on Creativity will strongly appeal to academics and advanced students in cultural studies, creative industries, art history and theory, experimental music and performance studies, digital and new media studies, engineering, economics, sociology, psychology and social psychology, management studies, and education – particularly visual arts education and music education. Policy makers, managers and entrepreneurs will also find much to interest them in this fascinating work.
Shakuntala Banaji, Sue Cranmer and Carlo Perrotta
What’s stopping us? Barriers to creativity
and innovation in schooling across Europe
Book section
(Accepted version)
Original citation:
Originally published in: Thomas, Kerry and Chan, Janet, (eds.) Handbook of Research on
Creativity. Elgar original reference (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2013) pp. 450-
463. ISBN 9780857939807
© 2013 The Authors. Published by Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
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What’s stopping us?: Barriers to creativity and innovation in schooling across Europe
Shakuntala Banaji, London School of Economics and Political Science; Sue Cranmer,
Lancaster University; Carlo Perrotta, Institute of Education-Futurelab UK
Theoretical definitions of creativity influence how and to what extent it is valued pedagogically
and hence the usefulness awarded to innovation in the classroom. If it is seen as a realm for
young geniuses, removed from the everyday of learning situations, then creativity becomes an
elite affair and not the remit of most teachers. Similarly, if pedagogic innovation in teaching is
something that requires an enormous infrastructure of new technological tools, then its absence
can be blamed on the lack of such tools. A democratic view of creativity as something that can
be nurtured to greater or lesser extents in all humans and that enhances both learning and life-
skills, however, is, of late, a more common claim in discussions of this topic. Classroom
practices, however, do not always remain in synch with the latest debates in any given field. This
chapter articulates practical insights from research carried out by the authors for the Institute of
Prospective Technological Studies (henceforward IPTS) in Seville on Creativity and Innovation
in compulsory education across Europe. In particular, the expert perspectives of high school
inspectors, government education advisors, teacher trainers and academics, with a specialisation
in teaching with new technologies, creative learning or innovative teaching complemented
research on teacher perspectives and curriculum documents carried out on behalf of IPTS by
other teams of researchers. While that research involved large-scale self-reporting surveys of
teachers in European schools and comparative textual analysis of available national and regional
documentation involving references to creativity, the expert perspectives collected for our part of
the study identify and contextualise the political and philosophical underpinnings of widespread
pedagogic beliefs and practices with regard to creativity and innovation in schools. For instance,
findings from the survey of curriculum documents note the general dearth of references to
creativity outside the context of the Arts curriculum, and the gradual linking of innovation in
more recent documents to new media technologies. Interviews with expert stakeholders delved
into these perceived gaps and the changes as well as into the role such documents might be said
to have on the actual class-room practices of teachers, children and young people. The data
generated, thus, systematically describe and debate factors seen to structure, support, hinder or
block pedagogic innovation and educational creativity in policy and practice. In this context, our
chapter draws on the views of these targeted educational stakeholders in order to reflect on the
systemic (governmental, political) and contextual (economic, cultural) or historical (regional,
national) and individual (local, school-specific) barriers to implementing innovative methods in
the teaching and evaluation of creativity in formal schooling. It is therefore framed around two
key research questions: 1) What are the links between educational policies on Creativity and
Innovation and educational practices according to educational stakeholders? And 2) What
conditions are viewed as barriers to creative learning and innovative teaching by expert
stakeholders? Following this discussion we outline suggestions for increasing creativity in schools
across Europe which arise from the theoretical orientation of our work and from the material
and systemic barriers identified.
A rhetorical approach to practices of creativity
Since the terms ‘creative learning’ and ‘innovative teaching’ are at the heart of our study, it is
worth revisiting how these terms might be defined. The heuristic definitions with which we
started out are as follows:
Creative learning is ... any learning which involves understanding and new awareness,
which allows the learner to go beyond notional acquisition, and focuses on thinking
skills. It is based on learner empowerment and centeredness. The creative experience is
seen as opposite to the reproductive experience. Innovation is the application of such a
process or product in order to benefit a domain or field in this case, teaching.
Therefore, innovative teaching is the process leading to creative learning, the
implementation of new methods, tools and contents which could benefit learners and
their creative potential. (Ferrari, Cachia & Punie 2009a, iii)
Our work with educational stakeholders and experts was underpinned by a belief in and
commitment to the notion that promoting creative learning and innovative teaching is essential
(Banaji and Burn 2007/2010; Ferrari, Cachia and Punie 2009a; Pope 2005) and must go far
beyond the promotion of the arts in education. Sometimes viewed as vital for economic recovery
and growth or as a counterbalance to social inequality, the wider benefits of creativity have more
recently been theorised as a series of overlapping ‘rhetorics’, some of which have particular
resonance for teaching and learning. These include themes such as ‘play and creativity’ in
reference to the enduring claim that childhood play is the origin of adult problem-solving and
creative thought; ‘ubiquitous and ethical creativity’, that creativity is a skill which supports
individuals to have the flexibility to respond to problems and changes in the modern world and
one’s personal life; ‘creativity for social good’, that promotes creativity as a means of social
regeneration, personal empowerment and reintegration of socially excluded individuals (Banaji
and Burn 2007/2010; Banaji 2011). In line with this approach, this chapter provides a critical
summary of how educational stakeholders from government, policy, research, the inspectorate,
academia and teacher training understand and experience practices of creative learning and
innovative teaching in schools in EU member states. First, however, a note on our methodology.
Sample and methodology
While we did not set out to find educational experts with a remit only for creativity and
innovation in education, but looked more broadly at teacher trainers and schools inspectors who
could discuss their observations in the field, overwhelmingly, our experts framed creativity as
being about much more than the Arts in education; and most conceptualised creativity and
innovation holistically in relation to cross-curricular skills, problem solving, intellectual
divergence and reflexivity. Our methodology for identifying such educational stakeholders was
built on work already undertaken in this field (Banaji and Burn 2007; Banaji 2008). A range of
different strategies were utilised to take account of the different groups of stakeholders involved
and, where possible, to triangulate the perspectives received. These included: an extensive review
of current and ongoing work at national and international level in the intersecting fields of
education practice, education policy, teacher training, creativity and innovation. Evidence used to
select experts for the study of European schools included recent research reports, conference
papers, ongoing projects in this area, website profiles, peer-reviewed journal articles and policy
briefings; the use of intermediary individuals and organizations including our funders, IPTS. We
also received advice from European Schoolnet whose membership includes all Ministries of the
constituent countries in the European Union and whose work focuses on developing learning
for schools, teachers and pupils across Europe (see We
also included many experts with a remit for teacher inservice training, educational research and
continuing professional development (CPD). Unsurprisingly, many respondents did not have the
time to take part; others were not comfortable with giving interviews in English or were uneasy
about providing their perceptions about creativity and innovation in schooling rather than
providing factual data. On these grounds, 27 contacted experts declined to participate. The
research team digitally recorded interviews carried out either via skype or telephone and
documented interviews with 81 educational stakeholders. At least three experts were interviewed
from 23 countries and at least 2 each from the remaining 4. Interviews lasted between 40 and 75
minutes and were analysed thematically.
At the outset of the project we developed a series of broad questions on curricula,
policies, pedagogies, resources, tools, digital technologies, assessment strategies and barriers to
innovation and creativity for stakeholders. There are, however, broader and better-known
national factors mentioned by expert interviewees that inform our perspective but are not
discussed extensively here. For instance, alongside analyses of the role and relevance of
Creativity and Innovation in compulsory education and teacher training within national education
systems, insights about the histories, contexts and implementation of the education systems in
the 27 member states were also discussed by the 81 experts. Regional cultural and linguistic
traditions, histories of occupation or dictatorship, regime changes, the inevitable influence of
different political parties on educational structures are all named repeatedly by interviewees as
affecting the context in which policies are made and curricula written. While we hope to explore
elsewhere the connections between such factors and daily practices in classrooms, it is
inappropriate to do so here given the need for brevity.
Any data based on talk and summaries of talk, as well as opinion, translation and relative
knowledge has to be viewed within a qualitative interpretative framework (Denzin and Lincoln
2000; Kvale 1995) but with a constant analytical orientation towards triangulation (Miles and
Huberman, 1984). One of our priorities was to ensure the robustness of the data generated.
Expert interviewees themselves emphasised four different levels of certainty about aspects of the
perspectives and information contributed. The overall levels of certainty expressed fall into the
following four categories: 1) personal opinions/knowledge of these expert interviewees,
supported by personal or anecdotal evidence; 2) professional opinions/knowledge based on
extensive work-life experience and research of classrooms, curricula, teachers, policy, teaching
and/or inspections; 3) professional opinions/knowledge based on their own research or that of
others that they have read and/or worked with and 4) 'examples' based on textual evidence such
as websites, reports, curricular documents or books that they can refer us to and/or send us.
Notably, each of these four levels depends on a) the self-reflexivity of the experts concerned b)
their specific professional and disciplinary contexts and c) their overt or implicit ideological
perspectives. Interviewees move between these levels when talking about subjects most familiar
to them and those less so in relation to our topic guide. Additionally, our expert interviewees
often qualified statements by explaining that they could not speak for and about all schools, all
teachers, all colleagues or for a whole region or country. In this context, we have to reiterate a
longstanding methodological warning these interview summaries must be viewed as insights
and perspectives about trends and circumstances to guide further research and not as positivist
accounts of specific national education systems. Further, there are degrees of accuracy even
within experts’ accounts: professional and personal opinions and knowledge are inflected by the
interviewees’ degree of association with particular education systems. However, we have an equal
number of cases where expert interviewees with ‘insider’ perspectives on the systems and
institutions they discuss are highly observant and critical. It is imperative that the testimonies of
the experts in this chapter are received within this complex context. Most of them, while having
been teachers, do not currently spend every day in a classroom. Often they have regular contact
with teachers but not with parents or children, while others visit schools every day. Our chapter,
in summarising such expert talk, presents a selective snapshot of education systems, policies and
national or local educational practices in relation to innovation and creativity. The high levels of
consonance in knowledge and opinions of our experts in relation to national patterns and
international compulsory education policy, teacher training, curriculum development, classroom
pedagogy, assessment, educational ICT use, creative learning and innovative teaching suggest
that collecting data from expert stakeholders in a careful, systematic and rigorous manner as
undertaken here can yield sharp, pertinent insights.
Barriers to Creativity and Innovation in European Schools and Teacher Training
This section of our chapter gives a broad sweep across Europe showing the scope and
predominance of particular characteristics of education systems or barriers to creativity and
innovation which emerged in the interviews with educational stakeholders. It is worth noting
that most of the countries appeared to have educational systems which were to some degree
changing, often as a result of policy-driven changes to curricula and pedagogic ethos (Vanderline
et al 2008; Koustourakis 2007; Ringarp and Rothland 2010). Nevertheless, as we will discuss, the
introduction of new tools which might have encouraged new practices does not necessarily
mean a transformation in educational practices. In analysing the barriers described to us by
experts in our sample, we have attempted to categorise these based on their systemic or
contextual features and to separate out those that are highly specific to given national contexts
from those that arise time and time again in different countries in all parts of Europe. Our
starting point, then, will be with the curriculum and related education policy contexts.
Curriculum, politics and policy
Dozens of experts across teacher training, inspectorates and research/academia told us that
education policies emphasising written summative examinations inhibit teacher innovation and
reduce the possibility of student creativity. The importance of achieving examination
qualifications militates against risk-taking in learning situations and not just against teachers’
capacity or interest. Further, centralised government initiatives which encourage competition
between schools particularly the practice of using ‘school league tables’ based on examination
performance and of publishing data about individual student performance in public
examinations and apparent teacher performance are seen to inhibit schools from developing an
atmosphere of innovation, critical thinking and developmental risk-taking conducive to student
creativity (Ball 2003, Nichol and McLellan 2008). Additionally, government policies which frame
all teaching as target-driven and use the inspectorate to ‘control’ or ‘punish’ teachers who do not
meet targets are seen as being completely opposed to a spirit of active innovation and change.
The issue of teacher agency drew an almost overwhelming response from our 81 experts, with
only four experts abstaining from comment and one uniformly suggesting that systemic factors
have nothing to do with teacher innovation and creative teaching. We offer a flavour of the
kinds of things we were told with regard to motivation, time, training, pay, status and daily
“Teachers are treated with extreme disrespect as a profession. They are not supported
and are so poorly paid that teachers might starve to death. 100 Euros is the average wage.
Most teachers have to do other jobs as well, meaning that there is simply no time to
innovate. Nor are they supported by the government... Ministers make comments such
as ‘today even kids know more than our teachers’ (referring to children ‘using keyboards’
proficiently) but they refer to superficial knowledge and devalue innovative methods and
dedicated persistent efforts on the part of educators.” (Expert Interview, Bulgaria)
“Teachers are so poorly paid that they cannot survive financially on their salaries. There
is a lot of crime against teachers, particularly violence is on the increase. They suffer from
this low status and are often humiliated publicly, so you could say their motivations to
innovate and be creative are extremely low.” (Expert Interview, Hungary).
“Although the status of teachers has improved slightly since the 1980s when they were all
thought to be in it ‘just for the two months holidays’, Austrian teachers are still poorly
paid in general. A first year teaching graduate starts with between 800 and 1000 Euros,
which is hard to live on. There is little incentive for innovation in the system. Teachers
for teaching better, improving their pedagogic practice etc. They may have
personal satisfaction, but no systemic reward.” (Expert Interview, Austria, original
“Teachers are always under pressure from performative regimes and while there might be
a valuing of creativity on paper, they get the mixed message that creativity is actually only
the icing on the top that can be added when they have ticked all the other performative
boxes in relation to traditional examination and assessment outcomes as defined by the
goverment and inspectorate a distinct
forked tongue
discourse.” (Expert interview,
England, original emphasis).
These extended quotes highlight the systemic curtailment (low pay, disrespect, humiliation,
violence, hypocrisy) suffered by teachers that experts in our sample viewed as the central and
most enduring barrier to creative learning and innovative teaching across Europe.
This barrier is arguably the result of broader policy dynamics that are currently shaping
the global educational landscape, where “new” criteria of professionalism are emerging from
local and supra-national debates about teaching. These debates have been, to a degree, spurred
by findings from large scale comparisons of student performance between countries, which
illustrated how the quality of teachers is a crucial factor influencing the overall performance of an
education system (OECD, 2009, 2010). The impact of these discussions is being felt as much on
research agendas in academic circles, as on the ways schools in some countries (e.g. in the UK)
are being evaluated and re-organised. As a result, practitioners on the ground are currently
caught in the middle of a political struggle, between calls for transformation and innovation and
more conservative forces upholding the importance of traditional instruction to increase “quality
teaching” in key subject areas, (UK DfE, 2010).
It was noted that some countries are planning to follow England in implementing this
kind of approach to ‘quality assurance’ and this is seen across the board as a very negative move
for innovation and creativity. As one expert put it, teachers feel “disappointed and frustrated”
because they are asked to perform many “irrelevant tasks”, which are detached from their
teaching duties. This reduces the time and energy that could be dedicated to fostering creativity.
In tandem, content-heavy and overloaded curricula, which leave little time for thoughtful
discussion and critical processes or innovative approaches are widespread across many of the
countries in this study, particularly in Western, Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, though
less so in Northern Europe/Scandinavian countries. We were also told of many excellent and
innovative classroom practices that occur in all countries, but usually initiated and sustained only
by the most confident, critical and experimental teachers or by those who do not depend solely
on their jobs for income. In some countries these happen to be the teachers who have been in
the profession over a decade and who are less apprehensive about being seen to resist top-down
initiatives that are not conducive to creativity. In other cases these are open-minded teachers,
young or more mature, who are willing to concede space to children’s perspectives in the
classroom and who do not fear a loss of control.
Disconnect between policy and practice
Clearly, whilst ‘creativity’ as a buzz word is popular in the educational discourse at a policy level
in some countries, in most cases it is still seen as something to be done in traditional arts
subjects. A rhetorical view of creativity as limited to the arts or practical subjects spans both
policy and practitioner contexts. This was identified by at least a third of experts interviewed as
deeply problematic, as one explained:
“Basically in France creativity is only associated with the arts and maybe advertising. But
a scientist would not consider himself creative. ”(Expert interview, France)
In fact, it was pointed out to us that this belief in creativity as an arts-linked phenomenon is even
enshrined in some curricula and policy documents. National curricula rarely seem to provide any
guidance as what to do in order to achieve creativity in subjects other than arts, like mathematics.
This issue is compounded at the classroom level, as many teachers also identify creativity solely
with literature, drawing, painting and drama, struggling to recognise it and foster it in other
subjects. Similarly, many of our interviewees confirmed that there are persistent views of
creativity as something produced by ‘geniuses’ and hence of little concern to the broader
population of school children who must be educated for ‘the real world’:
“Imagination is not valued in most Belgian high schools in the French Region. The
system in general is too traditionalist ... Teaching in an elitist manner has widened the gap
between the affluent students and those from other socioeconomic groups over the span
of school life PISA suggests that teaching in Belgium increases class differences
children are just pushed to do more of what they already do well, in this sense vocational
education has failed.” (Expert interview, Belgium)
So, there is still little concern for creativity as a ‘process’ involved in everyone’s lives beyond the
arts. This issue leads quite naturally away from policy contexts towards the pedagogic issues
which form barriers to innovation and especially to children’s creative learning.
Government policies which have invested large one-off amounts of funding in new
technological hardware, with little resourcing left over for software, upkeep, upgrading, e-
learning strategies or training of teachers in innovative pedagogies, driven in some cases by the
European Union, act as a notable and perhaps counterintuitive new barrier to innovation in
schools. For instance, teachers feel that they have to use ICT in lessons otherwise they may be
branded ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘technophobic’, even where the technology is slow, does not work,
wastes time, does exactly the same thing that they could do previously do without digital
technologies or involves repetition on their part of time and effort. This problem is compounded
in some cases by local area or school policies which restrict access to the internet or to a
significant numbers of websites; and reduce the opportunities for innovative use of ICTs for
learning and creativity.
Some aspects of pedagogy have less to do with individual teachers’ styles and patterns than with
institutional factors such as managerial ethos, space, timetabling and fear of particular tools or
technologies. In line with existing research on the influence of school environment and ethos on
pedagogic practice (Fuller and Clarke 1994; Hallam and Ireson 1999), most of the experts in our
study noted that authoritarian institutions in their countries, particularly where there is a strong
ethos of control as well as a hierarchical relationship between students and teachers and
managers are less likely to develop innovative teaching or creative learning methods. Even in
environments where schools themselves are not run in this manner, frequent punitive
inspections of teachers’ pedagogic practices as well as situations where observation/evaluation of
teachers’ classroom practice took place were cited as equally destructive to innovation and
creativity. There is, however, no necessary connection between de facto autonomy at a mundane
level and innovation in teachers’ practice; for instance teachers in Italy are said to work with high
levels of autonomy, which often verges on isolation, still following established and traditional
patterns of practice.
Institutional strategies which put children into class groups or subject groups based on
assumptions about their similar ability levels’ also known as streaming and setting,
respectively were seen as supporting poor classroom practice that prevents both overall
personal development of individual children and social class mobility across a locality. A range of
experts from academia and teacher training explained further that such practices tend to
emphasise a single set of narrow, target-driven outcomes that do not take account of creativity,
imagination, collective learning and emotional or cultural development. In this sense, it was not
surprising that several expert interviewees were also sceptical of systems where children were
‘pushed’ rather too early into specialisms or ‘vocations’.
Unsurprisingly, 90% of the expert interviewees at one point or another engaged with the
ways in which teachers and classrooms play a role in nurturing or stifling students’ creative
learning and making. Interestingly, rather than focusing only on teachers as pedagogues, many of
our experts commented on the positioning of teachers within systems, institutional constraints
and embedded values. Frequently, our interviewees also described a lack of differentiation in
methods and a ‘one size fits all’ approach as inhibiting to students with divergent perspectives.
The passing on from generation to generation through training and mentoring of disciplinarian
classroom environments, where divergence or failure to conform is punished, form one of the
most poignant and controversial barriers to critical thinking and problem-solving approaches. In
some traditions and environments, particularly reported by inspectors and teacher mentors or
trainers who have moved across areas and school districts, some teachers’ fear of losing control
of the discipline in classes linked to a lack of confidence in their own classroom management
skills discourages active learning approaches more widely than attempts to nurture creativity.
Even plain talking and listening tasks tend to be absent in the classroom. Educational styles
which emphasise ‘transmission’ modes of learning – where the teacher stands at the front of the
class and talks from notes or reads from a text book and students sit silently and listen or write
notes were one of the most frequently mentioned barriers across all categories of expert
interviewees. Examples of such practices ranged from closed, teacher-centric questions, and
exercises requiring the copying of basic factual information, repetition and rote learning.
On the one hand, underpinning these practices, interviewees drew attention to a perceived
dualist framework, one which sees some knowledge as ‘good’ and some knowledge as ‘bad’, and
so prevents children from engaging with wider questions of philosophy and political importance
in the work they are doing. This was particularly the case in relation to the gathering of
information, where we were told of classrooms where children were sent off to bring back
information about a specific topic, for instance in science or history, and if they returned with
something that was relevant but tangential to the ‘expected answer’ or that raised questions
about the question or critiqued the framework or paradigm underlying the question, were told to
delete or forget about it, rather than being allowed to share this knowledge with their fellow
pupils. Additionally, in some countries, political and pedagogic or religious conformism has been
valued in pupils and manifested in the rewards given for the reproduction of traditional
knowledge. In such circumstances the difficulty of getting teachers and pupils to think
divergently and creatively are manifest. Further, a diffuse and often unsubstantiated fear of risk
and harm was mentioned repeatedly as a major barrier to allowing particularly primary age
children to develop critical and individual thinking and creativity. On the other hand, in the
absence of realistic time provision or monetary incentivesin more than half the EU countries
sampled, increasing demands on teachers’ time reportedly leaves them with neither the space nor
the energy to be creative themselves, which then hinders how far they can nurture their students'
Tools and Technologies
The landscape in terms of materials used in schools is very diverse across Europe and this
sometimes gets lost in discussions of young people and new digital technologies for learning.
There are, in fact, some interesting entrenched patterns. Text books are still the most highly used
teaching resources in compulsory classrooms, closely followed by work-sheets made on
computers or downloaded from the internet. Note books, paper, pens, coloured pens, rulers,
erasers and pencils as well as art materials and science labs (at secondary level) are still the most
widespread tools in compulsory schooling across the EU27. This was not in itself seen as a
barrier to creativity by our interviewees; but the refusal of school districts and/or school leaders
to allow children and teachers to use other handheld digital devices ranging from mobile phones
to calculators alongside these was discussed as a significant barrier to innovative classroom
practices. Nor were digital technological tools the only artefacts whose presence was not as
widespread as those interested in fostering creative habits of mind would have liked. The rarity
of modern, innovative and critical textbooks customised for different ability levels and language
groups was a significant barrier for creativity in several countries. In others it was more the cost
of good, challenging, new textbooks which acted as an inhibitor for particular schools. Linking
structural and material constraints, several interviewees pointed out that the cost of equipment in
subjects such as music and sports is seen as having an adverse upshot for students from lower-
socioeconomic backgrounds. Unfortunately, the emphasis on ICTs in some schools has come at
the expense of other resources. Questions then arise about the exact nature of the pedagogic
interventions occasioned by ICTs and other digital tools in mainstream schooling.
Here too it becomes apparent that the lack of availability of innovative and creative
resources online in languages other than English can inhibit even those teachers with the will to
use the broader opportunities which digital technologies may provide. Undoubtedly, we were
told of practices changing because of the availability of the world wide web we were told that
more homework assignments are based on information searches. However, this in itself is
neither innovative nor necessarily creative; and if it is seen as such it can be a barrier as it
replaces time for other assignments. In several of the EU27 countries, experts reported
government or EU programmes which require schools to buy Interactive White Boards, laptop
schemes or Learning Platform Environments. In some cases, the programmes are now over and
the money for digital hardware no longer available; the resources are becoming outdated; the
training to use the materials is non-existent or is based on school leaders, who send a single
teacher to become a ‘champion’. Other problematic contingencies include slow internet
connections or a complete lack of computers that can handle fast connections. This appeared to
be as much of a problem in Western European countries such as Belgium as it was in Southern,
Central and Eastern Europe. However, even in schools which have the newest and most modern
facilities such as Interactive White Boards, projectors, laptops and learning platforms, a lack of
imagination and training in how to use them innovatively can turn them into ‘expensive
chalkboards and text books’. An underlying belief that one has to do exactly the same thing with
digital technologies as with analogue technologies was signalled by our interviewees as a barrier
to any innovative pedagogy. For instance, numerous cases were reported where powerpoint is
used again and again almost like turning the pages of a text book to deliver copious amounts of
graphs, charts and written information with no input from students.
This is line with empirical research carried out by one of the authors on teachers’
perceptions of the benefits of digital technology (Perrotta, 2012), which suggests that while some
teachers appear to be making use of ICTs in diverse and innovative ways, the majority of ICT
use is less ambitious in nature, mainly concerned with supporting teachers in the carrying out of
practical and procedural tasks such as lesson preparation, presenting and disseminating content,
collecting and managing data. Accordingly, for many teachers, ICTs are associated with what
could be described as “logistical” benefits rather than “intellectual” benefits. As mentioned, this
emphasis on functional learning rather than exploration and participatory culture is being
challenged in some schools and by some teachers, but such challenges are not supported either
by local or national structures. The will to control, at many different levels, also emerges as a
flashpoint stifling creativity with new technologies from teachers fearing that their pupils will
‘get up to no good’ online to local authorities and schools tightly controlling which sites schools,
teachers and children can visit. These restrictions embody a palpable unwillingness to allow
hierarchies to be challenged or individuals to follow their own pathways to learning.
Crucially across this terrain, issues of assessment remain an exceptionally sensitive and political
issue in educational systems. Many suggested that assessment and testing regimes as they stand
are driving creativity out of the classroom. In tandem, a culture of competition between schools
based on their national examination results undermines those teachers who wish to innovate or
allow students to work in groups, creating ideas and projects. Nevertheless, in an era of
economic austerity, when school districts are having their budgets cut, such competition appears
to be increasing rather than decreasing. This returns us to the issue of target setting, which is
now entrenched in several European countries’ educational culture, as is particularly the case in
England. The pressure to set and beat targets is seen to pull school leaders and classroom
teachers in two different directions away from creative and innovative teaching. The need to
push students to do well in traditional national examinations and to prove that one’s students
have succeeded in this area is viewed as antithetical to many of the more innovative formative
assessment strategies such as peer-assessment, self-assessment, extended project work and open-
ended discussion in class.
The lack of a clear, transferable framework for assessing creativity, competencies, skills
and knowledge all together in different subjects and disciplines is clearly problematic, particularly
given the strength and resilience of ideas about Standard Assessment Tests. Unfortunately for
those interested in working formatively with competencies or skills or in developing problem-
solving techniques, the idea that what one should be teaching and testing is a body of knowledge
is quite entrenched in policy and practice. Doing student-centred, active, creative activities such
as debates, trips, discussions and projects is thus viewed in some education systems and certain
schools as a ‘risk to outcomes’ or as ‘a waste of time’. Literacy and numeracy take priority in high
stakes exams and they are always assessed in traditional ways, mostly focusing on knowledge
acquisition. This is often underpinned by what one interviewee termed a “false nostalgia” about
what constitutes good schooling: the persistent calls (especially in times of crisis and economic
depression) for the return of a “golden age” in which there was a teacher talking on one side, and
a pupil listening silently on the other. This issue is also related to concerns, persistently aired and
even fed by the news media , about dropping standards in literacy and numeracy in many EU
countries, e.g. in the context of PISA evaluations which have a significant influence on national
educational policies. According to one international expert with a broad understanding of
European educational systems, we are “at a junction”, with some countries putting much greater
emphasis on traditional testing of subject knowledge. The same expert also mentioned
“interesting tensions” in the way PISA results are being interpreted in different countries. In this
respect, it needs to be noted once more that there are sometimes marked variations between
countries. However, the overall trend, noted by most of our 81 experts, is that national
examination systems make both students and teachers risk averse which can discourage
development, and lead teaching and learning to focus on exam content and to encourage
‘convergent thinking’. Unfortunately, whilst such assessment methods might be challenged or
fresh approaches discussed during Initial Teacher Training (ITT), was in fact the period often
thought by many experts in our sample to be responsible for entrenching the most uninnovative
views and practices.
Indeed, it was reported that many teacher training documents make virtually no reference
to creativity, while others are seen to pay lip service to the concept without any discussion of
interrogation of what it might mean for young people and children. Thus, outdated and
outmoded ITT curricula, and conservative and/or traditionalist academics who deliver them, and
in particular those passing on a hierarchical and disciplinarian view of the student-teacher
relationship, can become entrenched at this stage. The separation of practical and theoretical
aspects of the Initial Teacher Training Curriculum, with an emphasis on educational theory or
history in a vacuum, with scant attention paid to practical encounters with children in real
environments was seen to damage the quality and potential of the teachers produced by the
system. Equally, an emphasis on subject-knowledge rather than on pedagogic approaches during
ITT courses is a problematic barrier to classroom innovation. A lack of relevant and challenging
Inservice training was named as a troubling trend by a number of experts across categories.
Indeed, in most of the EU27 experts asserted that the professional development offer is not
sustained and strategically targeted to give teachers the confidence to transform their teaching
environment. In some cases there are too many aspects of training offered with no common
thread. In other countries continuing professional development is erratic and provided by private
organisations with little insight into the daily life of a school. It may not be compulsory so many
teachers miss out. Lack of funding and lack of time - the lack of budget for bringing in outside
cover often means that there is a difficulty in releasing teachers from lessons to go for CPD; it
also means that students who are trying to be creative are prevented and ‘moved on’ to other
Enablers to creativity and innovation in education
Before concluding, and to provide a sense of the breadth of the field we engage with, it is
productive to mention a few of the enablers to innovative teaching and best practices in creative
learning which our expert interviewees shared with us. Overwhelmingly, our interviewees felt
that the valuing of teachers and the teaching profession through the payment of incremental and
sufficient salaries, a combination of theoretical and practice-based teacher-training, continuing
professional development and increased autonomy over their time, over assessment methods
and over the curriculum was the most crucial enabler for everyday practices of innovative
teaching and creative learning. In tandem, a skills-based approach to the curriculum rather than
an overloading of content was suggested to have worked wonders in a series of cases. Over three
quarters of our interviewees also made reference to what they termed the significance of a ‘a
supportive wider culture of creativity’, which for them was primarily about empowering teachers
by giving them the time and skills to teach autonomously without too much curtailment or
testing; but also entails the making of references to creativity much more explicit; and the
engaging of both practitioners and the wider public in discussions around this topic via national
and local media as well as active consultations. The valuing of independence, debate, divergent
thinking, irony and eccentricity both amongst teaching staff and students were among
suggestions for making such a culture more resilient, while the training and recruitment of school
and curriculum leaderships with an interest in and understanding of the time and motivation for
creativity and innovation was seen as a top priority. In cases where both the culture and the
leadership are sensitised to the value of innovation and creativity, we encountered some of the
very best practices at a national or local level. Amongst these, the assessment and rewarding of
collective cross-curricular projects taught by several teachers across extended periods of time and
presented to parents at regular intervals (Denmark, Scotland); innovative places and spaces of
learning such as open-air schools (Estonia); widespread creative competitions in Mathematics
and Science invovling children from many different age-groups and school districts (Austria,
Luxembourg) and the respectful valuing of teacher agency and expertise leading to strong and
inspiring relationships with school students (Finland, Sweden) really stood out for us. However,
in order to spread and sustain such significant enablers and good practices, both research
evidence and political will is required; and an engagement with the scale and scope of the barriers
is crucial.
The barriers to successful teacher innovation and creative classroom learning practices identified
by our experts fall into varying categories in terms of who should and can address them. Long
term and entrenched barriers arising from political and economic structures lack of funding,
poor pay for teachers, functionalist summative testing, teacher or school target regimes,
orthodox transmission methods of learning, analogue uses of digital technologies and far more
are, however, somehow easier to think about dismantling and moving beyond than those which
reside in philosophical or ideological mindsets. Such mind sets are to be found, for instance, in
the belief that teachers are simply not able to innovate without digital technologies or that
creativity is something which is only of concern to an elite minority of extremely talented
students. They are also, of course, ideologically responsible for sustaining the worst practices in
the former list of systemic barriers notably the insistence on assessment of students as
individuals for distinct, uninteractive, rote learning or reproducible knowledge-based tasks. The
prevalence of buzz words like ‘rigour’ and ‘transparency’ in some education systems serve as
synonyms for teaching from the front, learning a received syllabus from a text book and
reproducing it in a standardised examination format. So, should we abandon formal schooling
altogether as an arena for creativity? Should we cede it to the regimes that be? We feel very
strongly, like most of the experts whose views we report in this chapter, that this should not be
the case. In order to foster creativity and innovation in formal schooling then, action and
argument is needed at several levels concomittently. To fund schools adequately and pay teachers
more than a living wage, to reduce working hours and increase specialist support, to train
teachers in a reflexive and recursive manner are all crucial ingredients for change. To alter
teacher training and secondary education curriculum documents and syllabuses in ways which
leave space and time for play, experiment and risk-taking which are still valued in most primary
curricula, to value and embed formative assessments and decentre testing, to develop new and
collaborative tasks and assessments these are all steps in the right direction. To convince
parents, mainstream media and a broad swathe of teacher trainers of the validity of creative and
innovative teaching and learning approaches is a more difficult proposition. But every battle
must begin somewhere, and as our experts told us, many of them have been fighting on this
front for decades.
We would like to thank the educational stakeholders who so generously gave their perspectives
and time and without whom we could not have completed this research. Our particular thanks
go to our funders at IPTS and especially Dr Anusca Ferrari, Ms Romina Cachia and Dr Yves
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The importance of workplace learning to personal creativity has been repeatedly demonstrated, but there has been limited research on the relationship between teachers’ informal workplace learning and their teaching for creativity (TfC) behaviour. Using a sample of 2,880 primary teachers, this study examined the relationship between teachers’ TfC and their informal workplace learning behaviour and how this relationship is influenced by gender and teaching experience. Means comparison, regression analysis and structural equation modelling showed that the five types of informal workplace learning activities, namely learning through media, colleague interactions, stakeholder interactions, student interactions and reflection, were positively related to TfC, but in different ways. Specifically, reflection and learning through student interactions had the strongest associations with process-oriented and product-oriented TfC, respectively. Learning through colleague interactions was related to process-oriented TfC but not product-oriented TfC. Product-oriented TfC was favoured by male teachers. Teaching experience was positively related to both process- and product-oriented TfC. The details of the key findings, as well as the implications for policymakers and researchers seeking to promote student creativity, are discussed.
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The “Mediappro” project has described the relationship between digital media and young Europeans and has held the opinion that there is a trend among them of appropriation of new digital media, via interactivity and interaction. The study describes the existing difference between the conditions of the new media environment and those of the mass media: “The Internet (and following technologies) is a new media, specifically characterised by interactivity (human to machine) and interaction (human to human), which put the (young) user into an active place. The comparison becomes clear if we consider other electronic media, like radio and television, and in a certain way, games, where all the contents are previously put by editors”. One of the conclusions of the study highlights that Internet, in these times of media convergence, is becoming “the first public medium of expression by and for young people”. This medium still has limitations and restrictions, but it constitutes an advance in what may be the new media environment in which citizens can become appropriated. The media convergence and multiplication of media screens and platforms is creating a new multimedia environment in which citizens are going about their lives. This is particularly true for young people, who can switch easily from their television screens to their games consoles or computers.
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The supposed benefits of teachers' use of information and communications technology (digital technology) are well reported throughout the academic literature—most often involving issues of enhanced learning outcomes, increased pupil engagement and more efficient management and organisation of learning. This paper uses survey data from 683 teachers in 24 secondary schools across the UK to analyse the factors influencing how these benefits are being experienced. In particular, the paper explores the complex relationships between teachers' perceptions of technology-related benefits and a range of individual, classroom, school and system-level issues. A number of mediating issues and influences are identified and discussed throughout these analyses. In particular, it is suggested that teachers' perceptions of the benefits of using technology are influenced more by institutional rather than individual characteristics. A number of possible reasons are discussed, highlighting the importance of social and cultural contexts of digital technology use in education. What is already known about this topic What this paper adds Implications for practice and/or policy
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This chapter argues for the necessity of creativity and innovation in educational sets. It focuses on three interrelated enablers for change: technologies, culture and pedagogy. Technologies are already accepted by the young generation, who are appropriating ICT tools and in particular web 2.0 applications in new creative ways. New pedagogies have to take into account what it means to be educated in our times, as the overwhelming presence of technologies in our lives brings about a change in the way young people and children learn and understand. A cultural shift is also required in order to promote values, that are not always recognised in a school environment, such as risk-taking, uniqueness and originality. Teachers are key figures to implement change, but they need support to understand and accept creativity in their practices.
Creativity: Theory, History, Practice offers important new perspectives on creativity in the light of contemporary critical theory and cultural history. Innovative in approach as well as argument, the book crosses disciplinary boundaries and builds new bridges between the critical and the creative. It is organised in four parts: Why creativity now? offers much-needed alternatives to both the Romantic stereotype of the creator as individual genius and the tendency of the modern creative industries to treat everything as a commodity, defining creativity, creating definitions traces the changing meaning of 'create' from religious ideas of divine creation from nothing to advertising notions of concept creation. It also examines the complex history and extraordinary versatility of terms such as imagination, invention, inspiration and originality, dreation as myth, story, metaphor begins with modern re-tellings of early African, American and Australian creation myths and - picking up Biblical and evolutionary accounts along the way - works round to scientific visions of the Big Bang, bubble universes and cosmic soup, creative practices, cultural processes is a critical anthology of materials, chosen to promote fresh thinking about everything from changing constructions of 'literature' and 'design' to artificial intelligence and genetic engineering. Rob Pope takes significant steps forward in the process of rethinking a vexed yet vital concept, all the while encouraging and equipping readers to continue the process in their own creative or 're-creative' ways. Creativity: Theory, History, Practice is invaluable for anyone with a live interest in exploring what creativity has been, is currently, and yet may be.
How educators and researchers define and study school effectiveness continues to be shaped by two divided camps. The policy mechanics attempt to identify particular school inputs, including discrete teaching practices, that raise student achievement. They seek universal remedies that can be manipulated by central agencies and assume that the same instructional materials and pedagogical practices hold constant meaning in the eyes of teachers and children across diverse cultural settings. In contrast, the classroom culturalists focus on the implicitly modeled norms exercised in the classroom and how children are socialized to accept particular rules of participation and authority, linguistic norms, orientations toward achievement, and conceptions of merit and status. It is the culturally constructed meanings attached to instructional tools and pedagogy that sustain this socialization process, not the material character of school inputs per se. This article reviews how these two paths of school-effects research are informed by work conducted within developing countries. First, we discuss the school’s aggregate effect, relative to family background, within impoverished settings. Second, we review recent empirical findings from the Third World on achievement effects from discrete school inputs. An emerging extension of this work also is reviewed: How input effects are conditioned by the social rules of classrooms. Third, we illustrate how future work in the policy-mechanic tradition will be fruitless until cultural conditions are taken into account. And the classroom culturalists may reach a theoretical dead end until they can empirically link classroom processes to alleged effects. We put forward a culturally situated model of school effectiveness—the implications of which are discussed for studying ethnically diverse schools within the West. By bringing together the strengths of these two intellectual camps, researchers can more carefully condition their search for school effects.
Validation of qualitative research is here discussed in relation to postmodern conceptions of knowledge. A modernist notion of true knowledge as a mirror of reality is replaced by a postmodern understanding of knowledge as a social construction. Of the common psychometric concepts of validity, predictive validity is related to a modernist correspon dence theory of truth, whereas construct validity may be extended to encompass a social construction of reality. Three approaches to validity are outlined in some detail. First, validity is treated as an expression of craftsmanship, with an emphasis on quality of research by checking, questioning, and theorizing on the nature of the phenomena investigated. Second, by going beyond correspondence criteria of validity, the emphasis on observation is extended to include conversation about the observations, with a communicative concept of validity. Third, by discarding a modern legitimation mania, justification of knowledge is replaced by application, with a pragmatic concept of validity. In conclusion, the validity of the validity question is questioned.