Creativity Its Place in Education

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Creative students lead richer lives and, in the longer term, make a valuable contribution to society. Surely those are reasons enough to bother.

  1. The role of creativity and innovation in teaching and learning
  2. The importance of developing classroom and school environments that can bring out the best in teachers and students, and Creative students lead richer lives and, in the longer term, make a valuable contribution to society. Surely those are reasons enough to bother
  3. Methods for making classrooms more engaging places.

Creativity in the classroom

What does it look like?

When students are being creative in the classroom they are likely to:

  • Question and challenge. Creative pupils are curious, question and challenge, and don’t necessarily follow the rules.
  • Make connections and see relationships. Creative pupils think laterally and make associations between things that are not usually connected.
  • Envision want might be. They imagine, see possibilities, ask “what if? “, picture alternatives, and look at things from different view points.
  • Explore ideas and options. Creative pupils play with ideas, try alternatives and fresh approaches, keep open minds and modify their ideas to achieve creative results.
  • Reflect critically on ideas, actions and outcomes. They review progress, invite and use feedback, criticise constructively and make perceptive observations.

To encourage the above is likely to require a change in the way schools are run and the way teachers teach. “The most powerful way to develop creativity in your students is to be a role model. Children develop creativity not when you tell them to, but when you show them.” How to develop student creativity.

Creative Teaching

We humans have not yet achieved our full creative potential primarily because every child’s creativity is not properly nurtured. The critical role of imagination, discovery and creativity in a child’s education is only beginning to come to light and, even within the educational community, many still do not appreciate or realise its vital importance.

Creative teaching may be defined in two ways: firstly, teaching creatively and secondly, teaching for creativity. Teaching creatively might be described as teachers using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting, engaging, exciting and effective. Teaching for creativity might best be described as using forms of teaching that are intended to develop students own creative thinking and behaviour. However it would be fair to say that teaching for creativity must involve creative teaching. Teachers cannot develop the creative abilities of their students if their own creative abilities are undiscovered or suppressed.

Teaching with creativity and teaching for creativity include all the characteristics of good teaching – including high motivation, high expectations, the ability to communicate and listen and the ability to interest, engage and inspire. Creative teachers need expertise in their particular fields but they need more than this. They need techniques that stimulate curiosity and raise self esteem and confidence. They must recognise when encouragement is needed and confidence threatened. They must balance structured learning with opportunities for self-direction; and the management of groups while giving attention to individuals. Teaching for creativity is not an easy option, but it can be enjoyable and deeply fulfilling. It can involve more time and planning to generate and develop ideas and to evaluate whether they have worked. It involves confidence to improvise and take detours, to pick up unexpected opportunities for learning; to live with uncertainty and to risk admitting that an idea led nowhere. Creative teachers are always willing to experiment but they recognise the need to learn from experience. All of this requires more, not less, expertise of teachers.

Creative teachers need confidence in their disciplines and in themselves. There are many highly creative teachers in our schools and many schools where creative approaches to teaching and learning are encouraged. But many schools and teachers do not have access to the necessary practical support and guidance in developing these approaches. Consequently there are important issues of staff development. It is important to reduce or eliminate the factors which inhibit the creative activity of teachers and learners and give priority to those that encourage it. There are, in education, extraordinarily high levels of prescription in relation to content and teaching methods. There are huge risks of de-skilling teachers and encouraging conformity and passivity in some.

Teachers Encouraging Creativity

The lion comes out of the stone: Helping young children achieve their creative potential

[Dimensions of Early Childhood] give the following suggestions on encouraging student creativity:

  • Give students extended, unhurried time to explore and do their best work. Don’t interfere when students are productively engaged and motivated to complete tasks in which they are fully engaged.
  • Create an inviting and exciting classroom environment. Provide students with space to leave unfinished work for later completion and quiet space for contemplation.
  • Provide an abundant supply of interesting and useful materials and resources.
  • Create a classroom climate where students feel mistakes are acceptable and risk taking is encouraged. Appropriate noise, mess and autonomy are accepted.

Steve Jobs has done more Cool Stuff than anybody else in Silicon Valley. . . . one of his success secrets is loading every development team with artist … and historians … and poets … and musicians … and dramatists. He says he wants to bring to bear, on each project, the best of human cultural accomplishment. So how come schools don’t get it? Budget crunch? First programmes to be cut? Art and Music. I say … the hell with the math budget [I really don’t mean that.] Let’s enhance the art budget and inflate the music budget. Training in Creativity is important, in general. But it is absolutely essential in this Age of Intangibles and Intellectual Capital.

Source: Tom Peters, Re-imagine