To be fair, I would say most school are hindering creativity in students. I'm sure there are many that have recognized this problem and have developed a solution. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of these schools around, especially in low-income and high-poverty communities. With the demands of education today, it makes it difficult for teachers to embrace the creativity in their classrooms. Not to blame just the time factor, but many do not have the support from administration and without that, many are unable to teach "creatively" even if they wanted to. Calvin makes a good point, "How can you be creative when someone's breathing down your neck?" He's referencing a teacher who sets guidelines and doesn't allow any veering from the plan. Although it's a bit exaggerated, he ends with the fact that even when choosing to have fun with the process of creating, he ends up in the psych office. I would hope that's not where kids go when showing a little creativity, but on a more realistic level, they are probably asked to redo the assignment to resemble the teacher's model.
Are we killing creativity?
Yes. I have both the time and support at my school to embrace this, and still I struggle letting go and allowing my students to create, design, construct. It is a personal goal to consciously be aware of the feedback I give my kids. I provide the opportunities for them to create, but then find myself regulating some of the ideas because it doesn't look like what I was envisioning when I designed the lesson. I continue to work hard at this and engage my students in conversations about it. They know it's something I am working on and there are times that I have to step back and say, "I'm sorry, do it your way. It's your project and I think you have great ideas!"
Sir Ken Robinson
I have watched this particular TED Talk at least a dozen times over the last couple of years. It's a good reminder for me to strive for that personal goal. He says, "We get educated out of creativity." This of course is the phrase that reminds me that I won't be that educator that takes the creativity away from my students. The second thing he says that resonates with me is, "If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original." I believe this and see it in my students. On one hand, I am working to allow opportunities to be creative. On the other hand, when I do provide these opportunities, I have many students who don't take the risk. I'm sure it's because in previous years, they haven't been allowed or encouraged to be creative.
Bring it to life
Personally I have used digital media more throughout this school year than ever before. I have introduced my students to various Web 2.0 tools. In particular, Voice Thread was used as a way for students to retell a story read. Although it was a familiar story, The Three Little Pigs, and it was designed to be at a level for students who were in the beginning stages of retelling, the technology piece of recording their voice and importing images was a challenge. I didn't expect that one of my quietest students would chose this activity as her final. After listening to her Voice Thread, I was in awe. Before that day, I have never heard her speak with such expression. It was like she was a different kid. She was very proud of her recording and beamed when it was shared with the class. With testing and the criticism education is constantly under, I have to hope that experiences like this support my students when asked to perform in more conventional ways, like high stakes tests. Creativity is one thing testing can not measure.
Tapping into multiple intelligences is important in reaching all students. Through EDIM 503, I had the chance to create activities that supported the different intelligences. It was challenging to do this because you have to critically think about each one and the outcomes desired. But through that course, I realized the importance of this and as Sir Ken Robinson advised, we need to educate their whole being. I was impressed with the excitement this unit caused and the products produced by my class.
TED. (2007, January 6). Do schools kill creativity? | Sir Ken Robinson | Ted Talks [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY&scrlybrkr