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The extent to which teachers enhance creativity within the History classroom through the choice of teaching methods. For presentation at the 14 th Annual SASHT Conference, Crawford College, Sandton, Gauteng, 25-26 th September 2009. Presented by Mr. BJ Bunt.

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The extent to which teachers enhance creativity within the History classroom through the choice of teaching methods.

For presentation at the 14th Annual SASHT Conference, Crawford College, Sandton, Gauteng, 25-26th September 2009.

Presented by Mr. BJ Bunt.

Permission kindly granted by General Smuts High School, Vereeniging

(In support of a B. Ed Hons. Research project at North West University – Vaal Campus)


History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; LET US NOT NEGLECT THE OPPORTUNITY.  ~Dexter Perkins

outline of presentation
Outline of presentation:
  • Introduction
  • Objectives of research
  • Literature review
  • Research design
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Conclusions and recommendations
  • History as a subject has come under heavy scrutiny, considering its value for learners who choose the subject.
  • History is widely being considered as useless, by teachers and learners alike.
  • Even those learners who choose the subject consider the teaching of History as dull and boring (Jackson, 2005:8).
It is the researcher’s opinion that it is only made this way by traditionalist teaching methods and ideologies.
  • Memorization and rote learning of dates and events allow very little room for creativity during teaching.
  • The researcher carefully assumes that it is not only subject knowledge which is important, but also the way this knowledge is transferred.
  • This process of knowledge transference in History should focus on enhancing creative abilities.
objectives of research
Objectives of research:
  • The overall aim of the study is to determine the extent to which teachers enhance creativity in the History classroom.
  • Flowing from the research aim, the following objectives are identified:
  • Determining what creativity in the History classroom entails by means of a literature study and by determining teacher perceptions through an empirical study;
  • Analyzing the teaching methods that are best suited to nurture creativity in the History classroom by means of a literature study;
  • Establishing the extent to which creativity is currently nurtured in the History classroom through the choice of teaching methods, by means of an empirical study.
literature review
Literature review:


  • Creativity should not be confused with talent.
  • Everyone therefore has the potential to be creative.
  • The key component to stimulate creativity is motivation or ‘the inner spark’ as mentioned by Amabile (1996:14).
  • There is however a misconception that ‘creativity’ is just the process of creating something new (Pink, 2005:23).
Creativity key concepts:
  • Innovation - This could be seen as the implementation of new ideas to create something of value. An innovation could be seen as a revolutionary idea being launched on the market for the first time (Craft, 2005:20).
  • Novelty - is another element of creativity, which is the quality of being new. It also refers to something novel, that which is striking, original or unusual.
  • Originality - is the aspect of created or invented works by as being new or novel, and thus can be distinguished from reproductions, clones, forgeries, or derivative works. An original work is one not received from others nor one copied based on the work of others.
  • Imagination - is the sense of imagining, or of creating mental images or concepts of what is not actually present to the senses, and the process of forming such images or concepts.
  • It helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge and it is an essential facility through which people make sense of the world. It also plays a key role in the learning process (Egan, 1992:31).
teaching methods
Teaching methods:

Direct Instruction:

  • According to Tuovinen and Sweller (1999), direct instruction is a teacher-centered method.
  • When used appropriately, direct instruction enables the teacher to communicate complex knowledge and information at the learners\' level.
  • Direct instruction also allows the teacher to present information that is not readily available to the learners from other sources or by other means.
Indirect Instruction:
  • According to Borich (1988), indirect instruction is a learner-centered teaching method.
  • It promotes learner involvement in the learning process and in doing so, fosters true learning for understanding.
  • Indirect instruction enhances creativity and helps to develop problem-solving skills.
  • Its resource-based nature brings depth and breadth to the learning experience (Borich, 1988).
Independent Study:
  • Independent study is an important instructional method because it is designed to foster self-sufficiency and the acquisition of lifelong learning skills.
  • Learners involved in independent learning are often highly motivated by the opportunity to explore topics that are of interest to them.
  • Learners can capitalize on their strengths while improving areas of weakness.
  • Independent study is especially valuable in a classroom where learners\' knowledge, skills, and abilities vary widely (Borich, 1988).
Interactive Instruction:
  • According to Sessoms (2008), interactive instruction provides opportunities for learners to interact with peers, experts, and their teachers in such a manner as to improve their social skills as well as their abilities to assess information and structure an effective response to the information.
  • The interaction is often highly motivating for learners.
  • The opportunity to interact with others broadens the educational experience of the learners and takes them beyond the limitations of the traditional classroom and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the individual teacher.
Experiential Learning:
  • According to Itin (1999), experiential learning is constructivist learning, where learners are active learners, constructing their own knowledge, rather than observing the demonstrative behavior of a teacher.
  • Because experiential learning is active learning, learners more readily understand what they are learning and thus retain the knowledge to a greater degree than when merely having information presented to them by another.
  • The hands-on nature of experiential learning is highly motivating for learners.
research design
Research design:

Research method

  • A qualitative method will be adopted within the research. Qualitative research is more descriptive and does not require statistics to reach a hypothetical conclusion. (Leedy, 2005).This type of research deals with experiences of participants on a more personal level.

Research design

  • The research will be phenomenological in design. This is due to the qualitative nature of the study, and due to certain phenomena which are occurring will be investigated, such as creativity and teaching methods. The study will attempt to explain these phenomena and their interrelation within the classroom (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007:43).
Population and sample
  • The population for this study will comprise all learners at school level with History as a subject. Due to time and logistical constraints, the study population will comprise all learners in Grade 10 and 11 History classes at General Smuts High School. One teacher per grade will be randomly sampled. The sample from the classes will be four learners, two per grade, chosen at random.

Data collection instruments

  • The instrument best suited for the research would be an interview. The reason for choosing this instrument is to ask those who have been sampled more specific questions and not to generalize. It is to get personal experience answers from the sample. The interview will thus consist of open and closed-ended questions. (Babby & Mouton, 2001:30).
data analysis and interpretation
Data analysis and interpretation:

Learner responses:

Question 1: Do you enjoy History as a subject at school?

  • From the responses it appears as if the learners enjoy History as a subject (cf. 1). This appears not to be in line with the argument of Gorn (2006:1), who indicated that History is now being viewed as a dull and boring subject (cf.2.1).

Question 2: Are you as a learner actively involved during teaching?

  • The responses from the 4 learners indicate that involvement during the teaching of History is indeed taking place (cf.2). All of these responses support the idea that active learning is important for nurturing creative thinking (Nickerson, 1999:54).

Question 3: What teaching methods does your teacher use when teaching History?

  • All of the responses from the learners clearly indicate a tendency of reliance on direct instruction in the History classroom, and to a lesser extent indirect instruction (cf.3). This is in agreement with Jackson (2005) who states that History teachers seem to only make use of direct instruction and do not use other methods, which leads to dull History lessons.
Question 4: Does your teacher make use of the following methods when teaching History? Debates, role-plays, field trips, cooperative learning groups, discussion and interviews.
  • From the learner responses, it is clearly evident that the teachers make use of mostly Direct Instruction. None of the teachers, according to the learners, make use of role-plays or field trips, which are more interactive and experiential approaches (cf.4). This is in line with Jackson (2005: ) who states that teachers do not promote creative thought in classrooms due to lack of diversity when it comes to teaching methods.

Teacher responses:

Question 1: Explain in your own words what creativity in the History classroom entails.

  • From the responses of the two teachers, it is evident that there is some understanding of what creativity in the History classroom entails (cf.5). Both teachers referred to original thinking, which also relates to innovative thinking, which according to Craft (2005:20) is essential for creativity in the History classroom.
Question 2: Do you think it is possible to nurture creativity among learners during the teaching

of History?

  • Both teachers responses were positive to this question as both said that it is indeed possible to nurture creativity among learners in the History classroom (cf.6). Both teachers stated that time and discipline were essentials to nurture creativity.

Question 3: What teaching methods do you use when teaching History?

  • The responses from the teachers were mixed for this question. Participant 5 was more specific by stating that Direct Instruction is used in the classroom as well as story telling. Participant 6 generally commented that all possible teaching methods are used, not being entirely specific (cf.7). Tuovinen and Sweller (1999) state that Direct Instruction is an essential method for teaching any subject, but that it should not be the only method being used.
Question 4: Do you have an understanding of the following teaching methods? Direct

Instruction, Indirect Instruction, Interactive Instruction, Independent Study, Experiential


  • Once again, the responses varied amongst the teachers. Participant 5 had a clear understanding of all methods, but with Participant 6, confusion was evident between Indirect and Interactive Instruction (cf. 8).

Question 5: Do you make use of the following teaching methods while teaching History?

Debating, role-plays, field trips, discussion, interviews.

  • All the responses from the teachers indicated that they all make use of the above mentioned strategies, but to varying degrees. This is important, as not all the strategies can be used all the time. The balance should be there that these methods are at least used instead of not at all (cf.9). Jackson (2005) has stated that in order to effectively nurture creativity in the classroom, a balanced strategy is the best option.
conclusions and recommendations
Conclusions and recommendations:


  • It can be concluded that creativity is not being nurtured, as has been identified in the data analysis.
  • The teachers have cited many reasons as to why other methods could not be used, including time constraints, class sizes and discipline problems.
  • Therefore the teachers in question make sole use of Direct Instruction when teaching History, which is not conducive to stimulating creative thinking among the learners.


  • It is recommended that teachers should be made aware of the significance of utilizing several methods when teaching History.
  • This could be done at a workshop or even at cluster meetings.
  • Experienced and creative History teachers should assist others by perhaps formulating creative lesson plans and assessments and distribute these to their fellow teachers.
  • Thanks to all the teachers and learners from General Smuts High School who participated in this research.
  • Thanks to the North-West University, in particular Prof. M. Grosser for assisting with the structure of the research
reference list
Reference List:
  • AMABILE, T.M. 1996. Creativity in context. Harvard: Westview Press.
  • AMABILE, T.M. 1999. Growing up creative. Buffalo: CEF Press Publishers.
  • BABBY, E. & MOUTON, J. 2001. The practice of social research. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • BAER, J.  1997. Gender differences in the effects of anticipated evaluation on creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 10, 25-31.
  • BORICH, G. 1988. Effective teaching methods. Columbus: Merrill.
  • COHEN, L., MANION, L. & MORRISON, K. 2007. Research methods in education. 6th edition. New York: Routledge.
  • CRAFT, A. 2005. Creativity in schools. Oxon: Routledge Publishers.
  • EGAN, K. 1992. Imagination in Teaching and Learning. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • GORN, C. 2006.Getting Students to Like History Is Not Impossible. Maryland: Oxford Publishers.
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  • ISEN, A.M., DAUBMAN, K.A. NOWICKI, G.P. 1987. Positive affect facilitates creative problem solving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 1122–31.
  • ITIN, C.M. 1999. Reasserting the Philosophy of Experiential Education as a Vehicle for Change in the 21st Century. The Journal of Experiential Education,.22(2), 91-98.
  • JACKSON, N. 2005. Creativity in history teaching and learning. InAndress,Subject perspectives on creativity in higher education working paper. Portsmouth:University of Portsmouth. 8p.
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reference list1
Reference List:
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  • PINK, D.H. 2005. A Whole New Mind: Moving from the information age into the conceptual age. New York: Allen & Unwin.
  • SESSOMS, D. 2008. Interactive Instruction: Creating interactive learning environments through tomorrow’s teachers. International Journal of Technology in Teaching and Learning, 4(2), 86-96.
  • STERNBERG, R.J. LUBART, T.I. 1999. The Concept of Creativity: Prospects and Paradigms. in ed. Sternberg, R.J.. Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.
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