Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Creativity in the Classroom

Last Tuesday, on Edchat, I only had a few minutes to join in a conversation among educators interested in improving education, by making creativity more a part of the learning process and outcomes at school. Of course, creativity looks quite different in different age classrooms but my takeaway is this: Why are we so afraid to hand over more of the power of learning to kids? If we set the goals/objectives for the knowledge and thinking that must occur, why is it so difficult to allow/encourage a variety of ways to demonstrate that mastery? Several teachers I know fully admit and almost seem to boast "I am not creative." Are these the models we want for our learners? Is there a way to "train" teachers in creativity?Now if "create" is at the highest level of Bloom's Taxonomy, how can I be assured that these teachers will even know how to facilitate and reinforce students' creative thinking processes? Yes, the system seems to hold us back in a place where we do what's expected, don't ask any questions, and put forth a bland blend of "stuff" we call curriculum each day, luring our learners into a deep snooze of complacency. It's time we stood up, rebelled against the industrial-age model of education and learned how to build in assessment practices where we can assess our kids' learning. What kind of learning do they need to demonstrate? How about critical thinking where they give us answers that they didn't find in a book or website? How about answers where they developed and supported their analyses by citing and synthesizing resources. Even young learners can learn from reflecting upon and defending their points of view.  I love to ask my kids, " How do you know that?" or alternatively, "How can you tell that's not the answer?"  What makes you think that?
We need to be open to a brainstorming and solution generating process that may not come in an easy 5 minute thinking session.  Part of the big problem in education is that it mirrors the society we live in. We want instant everything. We don't have the patience for process. It's time to challenge these assumptions that solutions and learning come in quick fix magic bullet strategies.  How?
We can learn from our peers. And this is exactly what I do, on Twitter every day. Many incredible educators and others share resources, give support and challenge the status quo. So, how do you model and support creativity in your school? What do you see working? Please share your thoughts!
The Blooming Butterfly poster is a licensed image from the following source:


  1. Great post Joan! So many teachers are so afraid to step away from the norm in their schools. That's the problem. The current "norm" isn't good enough. I don't want my child getting a 19th century education in the 21st century. Not that a teacher's classroom has to be this grandiose production every day. It doesn't have to be at all. But why do teachers have such a hard time relinquishing a little bit of control, and see what the students come up with? I always go back to the old "create a powerpoint" example. If you look at the newest NETS-S, there is not any specific reference made to a particular piece of presentation software or tool. Look at how many there are out there today! What if the same teacher instead said, "Ok class you're going to create a multimedia presentation on ______. I want you to use any tool you want to demonstrate your knowledge of this subject." Now of course, there would still need to be strict guidelines for quality (rubric) but wouldn't it be fun to just see what happens? Just once?

  2. Thanks so much for your comment Kyle! I love the idea of giving kids the freedom to choose the right tool for a project. Of course a rubric would be key but I would bet the kids would surpass our expectations!
    Thanks again..this comment seemed to be lost but reappeared and I am so glad it did!


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