Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Creating an environment to nurture creativity.

Students need to experience a wide range of interesting activities to discover their creative talents.
Creative thinking, or talent development, ought not to be the exclusive province of of special programmes; nor can it be reduced to a curricular 'frill' if there is time; or restricted to 'enrichment' activities for those who complete their 'normal' classwork.
Creativity is a capacity of every learner that ought to be recognised, valued and extended across all learning stages.
All students have the right to have their interests and talents affirmed and nurtured as an important aspect of their learning identity. Every teacher ought to see and nurture 'genius' in every learner. Creative thinking where students engage in, 'what if' and 'I wonder what will happen next', are important dispositions for all learners to develop - or rather not to lose when they enter school!
For this to happen certain misconceptions need to be redefined. Creativity is just not about encouraging free spirits - true creativity requires rigor, courage, personal effort and a sense of personal quality. Creative results do often come easily to learners but more often requires complex reasoning processes , where learners compare, deduce, abstract, make decisions , investigate, problem solve and continually change their minds. Most creative individual have worked hard to develop what now might seem to be an obvious solution.
Most of us see creativity as an individual achievement but other cultures pursue creativity for the good of the group through dance, song, and shared craft activities This is as true in the world of science where it is common, almost vital, for scientists to share their knowledge with each other.This applies to all other human endeavours and is seen at its best in times of natural disasters when people demonstrate talents they never realized they had.
To develop student creativity demands that schools develop opportunities for students to make connections across learning areas. When students research and express their ideas around an important felt concern many aspects of their work will involve their creativity and in the process uncover students talents and gifts.
Gifted-ness has progressed from being a single measurable trait to one that relies on such things as: interest, motivation, persistence, leadership, self confidence, and self esteem.
Everybody has a range of gifts to develop. Education can enhance or limit each student potential; being creative can be taught
Stunning creative thought or expression does not simply appear. Rather it is the product of years of learning, preparation and , if all students are to be creative, it takes encouragement, the provision of a conducive learning environment and sensitive teaching.
History is replete with examples of creative people who were not highly regarded by their teachers who have never the less made monumental contributions to our society. In a creative era we can longer afford to risk losing the creative energy of those who are not able to see beyond the opinions given to them by their school experience.
To be a life long learner is to be creative - to continually ask 'I wonder why', and ,'what if'.
To develop talents of all students is the number one task of teachers in a creative age.


Anonymous said...

Like all things developing an environment for creative learning depends on sharing certain goals (teachers and students) and a whole lot of work. It often seems that there are too many misdirected energies and distractions, more detail than depth, and a lack of concern for the essential purposes of learning for the sake of the learner.

Teacher guide their students through a maize of superficial activity and fail to establish any real sort of sincere learning relationship with their students, and like wise many students feel defeated or confused by this and end out of touch with their own creative powers and occupied with superficial games that have nothing to do with genuine involvement and real learning.

Bruce Hammonds said...

The key is , as you say, to get all teachers to agree that developing student creativity is their number one function. All too often they feel that it is their duty to transfer 'their' knowledge to their students. And all too often they work in a culture of privatisation - 'kings ( or queens) of their own classrooms'.

With the above 'mindsets'in place teachers 'deliver', or guide, students through what teachers feel is important, rather than developing, as you say, learning relationships to assist students to explore areas that they have an interest in. The future depends on negotiating, or 'co-constructing, knowledge with their students - but this would mean sharing power and using democratic virtues.

Anonymous said...

Why are schools 'designed' (possibly the wrong word) the way they are to destroy 'connectivity' and creativity? I wonder what they would look like if they really wanted to develop every learners special set of gifts, talents and passions?