Friday, November 19, 2004

Creativity is not easy- do schools encourage it?

A lot of teachers and schools talk about creativity as if it is all in place but I wonder if this is the case. Many creative people had a hard time in school.

Creative people have never had it easy in any organization or society. They threaten the 'status quo', stand up to vested interests and defy the crowd. Their ideas are often seen as bizarre and are often ignored or rejected, and in earlier days severely punished. Any person who challenges current assumptions, or points of view, comes into conflict with those who believe that all is well with the world. Conversely ideas accepted without question are rarely creative.

Creative students, unless they have strong wills, soon learn to tow the line. The same applies to teachers and to a lesser degree principals. The more power you have the more you are aligned to the current point of view. Creativity is subversive!

As well creativity, according to Robert Sternberg ( a writer on creativity) requires the balancing of three qualities, the ability to think up new ideas, the ability sort out the best ones, and the ability to sell them and put them into practice, so creativity is not easy.

Progressive societies depend on new ideas but change never comes easily. How can schools help develop student creativity while at the same time seeing that are still seen valuable members of the class learning community?

Tips from Sternberg to help are:

1 Be role model - show you are creative by your actions
2 Encourage students to see themselves as creative.
3 Encourage students to question their assumptions or their answers.
4 Encourage students to value their own questions and choice of ways to research.
5 Help students generate ideas ( without criticism) about any problem.
6 Encourage students to 'cross fertilize' ideas by thinking across curriculum areas
7 Give students time to think about ideas.
8 Assess student's work for creativity and originality.
9 Reward students for creative ideas and products.
10 Encourage sensible risks and to learn from their 'mistakes'.
11 Tolerate ambiguity - let students see that learning is not black and white.
12 Allow mistakes - but ask students to analyze and discuss mistakes.
13 Help students understand that creative thinkers inevitably encounter resistance.
14 Teach students to be responsible for both their success and mistakes.
15 Teach students strategies to self regulate or control their learning.
16 Help student appreciate that success takes time, discipline and hard work.
17 Encourage students to collaborate and share talents and skills.
18 Help creative students see other peoples points of view.
19 Help students see that there are times it pays not to be creative!
20 To unleash creativity help them find what excites them - their passions.
21 Create the classrooms as a creative environment to help ideas flow
22 Help students play to their strengths
23 As a teacher, demonstrate your own creative growth.
24 Encourage other teachers to value student creativity - spread the message!

All in all we need more creativity in our classrooms and less conforming to teacher expectations. Creative teachers have more fun! Creative students are more interesting and funnier! Have more faith that, given rich experiences and a chance to make and create meaning through whatever talents students have, they will learn.

Creativity would be an excellent theme for students to explore. Many of Sternberg's points could make up the content?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found the Sternberg points excellent.Thanks for sharing them.

We have to really value our creative teachers.