Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups

Creative Discussion – a key to insight and change

William Plain
Emeritus Professor, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies

Plain Pair Group Teaching (Plain PGT)
- for universities and schools
Plain Pair Group Discussion (Plain PGD)
- for decision making and staff development
- for informal or community creative discussion

A flash of insight is the spark of cosmic intelligence.
Small group sharing of insight can change the pattern of human intelligence. &

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NUFS Creative Campus

NUFS Creative Campus」序論

NUFS Creative Campus is a place of learning where creativity takes centre place – for everyone: students, teachers and administration, in class, among friends and with colleagues. Each of us has the capacity of capturing, with our ‘personal antenna’, a flash of insight that gives an answer to unsolved problems. This capacity of capturing and divulging what we call creativity has been attributed mainly to exceptional people like artists or scientists. However, as we have all experienced this, if only once, we also know it can be enhanced.
NUFSクリエイティブ・キャンパス は、全員つまり友人や同僚と共にクラスの学生、教師、執行部にとって創造力が中核となる学習の場です。我々は各自、未解決の問題に答えるための「個人的アンテナ」即ち洞察のひらめきによって得られる能力があります。いわゆる創造力を得たり発揮するこの能力は、主に芸術家或いは科学者のような例外的な人々の特性であるといわれてきました。しかしながら、我々全ての人々がこれを体験しているように、たとえ一度であってもその能力を高めることができることも知っています。

The innovative form of group communication offered by Creative Campus encourages participants to develop this capacity. The only prerequisite is to become aware of our insights (flash or sparkle of creativity) and recognise that this capacity can be developed and potentiated through a process of exchange of information, knowledge, ideas, etc to open up new possibilities for solutions, connections and imagination. After joining or forming a small group of participants we each take turns listening to the ideas of others with attentiveness, silence and respect while awaiting our turn to make a presentation, at the same time ‘listening’ to our own creative mind.

In the process we recognise that to be innovative it is necessary not to limit ourselves to a single idea or answer but to admit multiple possibilities in solving a problem and have the courage to be imaginative – and find new questions.

NUFS Creative Campus is a group of projects which has been developed and trialled at NUFS with the aim of increasing communication and creativity across the university. I have applied these ideas in my classes and on campus over a number of years, and have observed students developing a greater capacity for independent thinking, discovering new ideas and increasing their interest in learning. Students develop a greater degree of autonomy and even students with a lower self-esteem are able to discover new potential and find enjoyment in study.
NUFS クリエイティブ・キャンパス は、名古屋外国語大学全体でコミュニケーションとクリエイティビティを促進する目的で開発・試行されたプロジェクトの総称です。長年にわたってクラスやキャンパスでこれらの考えを施行し、学生達が自主的な思考のための顕著な能力を発揮したり、新しい考えを発見したり、学ぶことに興味をいだくようになることを見てきました。学生達は大いに自主性を身につけ、自信のない学生でさえ新たな潜在能力を発見し勉学を楽しむことができるようになっています。

The overall research project, “Creative Discussion using Plain Pair Groups”, has emerged from 7 years of Monkasho funded research at the University of Tsukuba and NUFS based on original ideas, which come from 30 years of research in Australia, Europe and Japan. It has so far been applied to Classroom Management (Plain Pair Group Teaching), Campus Creative Discussion, Peer Faculty Development and Promoting Postgraduate Enrolment.
根幹にある研究プロジェクト「プレイン・ペア・グループを利用したクリエイティブ・ディスカッション」は、筑波大学と名古屋外国語大学で7年間文科省の科学研究費の助成を受けて進められました。オーストラリア、ヨーロッパ、日本での30年にわたる研究が、その基となるアイデアとなっています。現在まで、これは授業運営(Plain Pair Group Teaching)、キャンパス・クリエイティブ・ディスカッション、ピア教職員開発(Peer FD)、大学院進学促進などに利用されています。

One of these projects is Campus Creative Discussion (CCD) which organises students to meet outside of class to discuss important topics in a foreign language or in Japanese – with no teacher. This project has been developed over 3 years with students from several departments, plus post-graduate and exchange students, meeting in small “Insight Groups” with mixed 1/2/3/4th Years. Each group member is encouraged to also form or join a second group, the “Plain Pair Group”, to increase creativity and flow of ideas across the campus.

I have found that students benefit enormously from this activity and participate willingly and regularly, even though (or because!) there is no teacher supervision.

I see Campus Creative Discussion as a relatively simple to organise, campus-wide bilingual independent-learning activity which could significantly increase the status of NUFS and very much hope to be able to leave the university having made this small ‘extra’ contribution.
比較的整備が簡単な「Campus Creative Discussion」 は、大学全体のバイリンガル自己学習活動として名古屋外国語大学のステイタスを大いに向上させると考えております。私はこの小さな「追加」貢献をして、大学を去ることを望んでおります。

In a 3-year trial with 200 students, attendance rate was 70%. If supervision of student groups by the NUFS organiser (myself) can be supplemented by a parallel system of supervision by each department, I could expect about a similar attendance rate across the campus. With a student population of 3,000, this would mean about 2,000 students meeting once or twice a week for 30 minutes of ‘academic’ discussion. Improvement in bilingual communication and sense of academic purpose, autonomy in learning, and cohesion between departments and across academic years is expected to make a major contribution to the success of NUFS.

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© William Plain  1990-2023 (print); 2005 - 2023 (website)