Friday, August 07, 2009
Developing a creative mindset
After a visit to a patch of bush year 3/4 students re-imagined, with teacher help, ideas to develop into paintings. No one painting looked alike even though they all had the same theme - paint a big tree with vines, nikau palms, tree ferns etc. The teacher concerned focused on ensuring all students developed their own interpretations.
All students can be helped to develop their imagination, or creativity, if their teachers think it is important.
There are strategies teachers can use to help develop such creativity.
Creative people, by nature, do not aways leap into the first or most obvious solution; they look around the problem and explore less immediate possibilities. This comes easier for some children but all students can improve their creativity with assistance. Students should be encouraged not to just accept the ordinary answer but to look for something new. They should be encouraged to experiment before committing to action. In the area of art being exposed to adult artists that express the same idea in different ways broadens students outlooks. School journals provide images to refer to. It is important for students to appreciate their art should express their individuality.
Teachers who take too seriously success criteria unfortunately limit such creativity. Van Gogh would find it difficult to survive in some classrooms.
As an example, as a part of an ecological study of a piece of bush, students might undertake a major painting task.
After the bush visit, students can be asked to remember sensory details and then to sketch what they saw. They can first be encouraged to think about the large trees seen ( they may even have digital photos, or drawing done on site, to refer to). They can be encouraged think about the bark patterns, the shapes of climbing and perching plants and then to consider the spaces in between - the tree ferns and nikaus palms, and finally the plants growing on the floor of the forest. All these ideas can be sketched out on a small piece of paper as a draft.
From such a draft an outline for a painting can be drawn out lightly, later to be painted - starting with the large tree and adding details until finished.
Finished pieces of art, as a result of such a process, are the result of observation taken during the visit and remembered back in class and imaginative interpretations. Vivid memories are the basis of future imagination.
When displayed the resulting works of art ought to be as different as the children themselves.If they all look the same then imagination may have been sacrificed for quality.
What do students learn if all their work looks the same!