PATT36 Keynote and Plenary Session: Cultivating Imagination and Innovation

The PATT36 conference addressed the theme of “Research and Practice in Technology Education: Perspectives on Human Capacity and Development”. Within this theme, three sub-themes formed the focus of three separate sessions, each including a keynote presentation and plenary discussion. On Tuesday 19th July, the session centred on the sub-theme of “Cultivating Imagination and Creativity”.

The Keynote address was given by Former Assistant Head of the Irish State Examination Commission Sean Ó’Broin. Sean gave an insightful presentation on how a balance is achieved at post-primary level in Ireland between enabling students to be imaginative and the use of standardised national assessments. A clear message was given of how the suite of Technology subjects at post-primary level facilitates this balance through the use of authentic project work.

Following the keynote, Sean sat on a panel with Prof. Kay Stables and PhD candidate Joe Phelan to further discuss the cultivation of imagination and innovation in Technology education. The panel session was convened by Dr Niall Seery. All speakers shared their own unique perspectives on this topic. The panel responded to questions posed by the delegates including:

“Creativity has been defined as randomness which occurs due to a lack of relevant knowledge in solving a problem/engaging in a design task etc. unlike innovation which is characterised by being of value. With this in mind, should we be trying to cultivate creativity, or should technology education focus more on a knowledge based curriculum?”

“It is often said that schools ‘kill’ creativity (or limit the imagination of students). Is this true, or do students just acquire knowledge which allows them to engage with educational tasks without the need to use their imagination? What evidence is there that there is lower creativity vs there being less need to be creative?”

The session finished with an open floor discussion where audience members responded to the discussion and asked further questions to panel members.

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