Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Creativity in the Classroom

There is much discussion about creativity in the classroom and how that would look. When I visit classrooms, there are times when teachers offer students a great deal of choice around demonstrating their learning. These choices allow students to creatively present what they know in a manner that allows them to do their best. Yet, other times students are required to "create" a product that meets the specific expectations of the teacher (and not just to meet curricular requirements but that the product must look exactly the same as everyone else's). All the art products hanging cheerfully on the wall look the same; all the written responses have the same answer; all the answers are exactly the same because the question was so narrow.

Sir Ken Robinson has spoken repeatedly on creativity in the classroom and especially how the creativity is often destroyed in children as they go through the education system. He believes that creativity is as important as literacy. A great video to watch regarding Sir Ken's thoughts is

Trisha Riche talks about 22 ways to encourage creativity in the classroom and she describes creativity as:
Creativity is innovation.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. If something isn't working, then it's broken and needs to be fixed. Come up with something else that will work for your students.

Creativity is thinking outside the box.
Everything doesn't always have to be black and white. Sometimes the oddball activities are the ones that work.

Creativity is improvisation.
Things don't always turn out the way you planned. When I've realized that a lesson wasn't working midway through, I literally tossed it out and started over. I tried a different angle (in this case, incorporating a movie that my students liked), and it worked.

Creativity is professional growth.
We don't always have all of the answers. If you can't figure out what to do, use your coworkers as resources. You might find some really great ideas that make sense for your students. Also, look at research and see what has worked for other teachers around the world. Use resources like KS1, KS2, and for some fun engaging activities.

Creativity is being a risk taker or mold breaker.
I have had many crazy ideas for things to try in the classroom. Some have worked and some haven't, but I found that trying was better than being stuck in the same pattern that isn't working.

Creativity is passion.
Be passionate about what you are doing. You are there to inspire students to become lifelong learners. If you want them to love learning, you have to love what you are teaching.

Jeffrey Baumgartner suggests listening to Bach to boost your creativity. We recently began playing music in the hallways as students entered so perhaps we will add Bach to the repetoire to boost the creativity of our students. And while that may work, the bottom line is the classroom teacher must promote a creative classroom.

Marvin Bartel writes about the top ten creativity killers in the classroom and while he is referring to his art class, these pointers should be used in the regular classroom also. His top creativity killer is when he encourages "renting" ideas rather than "owning" them. He says making ideas your own means that you choose it, improve it, shake it, pound it, deconstruct it, reengineer it, materialize it, test it, internalize it, and so on. You can not simply copy it or rent it.
Next, he says that if you simply return materials to students with a mark and no meaningful feedback, you kill creativity.

On I read that "classrooms are supposed to be fun learning centers, where the most important quality required is freedom of expression. By encouraging creativity in the classroom, a teacher is ensuring that the student has the ability to analyze a problem and think for herself, and is not swayed by orthodox and conventional rules. By promoting free speech, the students are more capable of expressing their thoughts and views regarding any anomalies."

Finally, on the Helium website there are listed 14 different articles that would share how to promote creativity in the classroom.

If we allow our students creative space, all students will feel successful, not just the students who can re-create the teacher's sample or answer.
School Supplies Pencils Erasers August 07, 20102

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