Creativity in the Classroom

The following is a blog post for my EDIM 508 grad class.

After watching Sir Ken Robinson’s TED Talk on “Do schools kill creativity”

We were asked to answer these 2 questions:

1. Do schools kill creativity?

2. How can you use digital media to bring creativity alive in your classroom?

1. As a mother of a 5 and 3 year old, this is a question that keeps me up at night. I fear the day when my sons say school is “boring” and slowly begin the process of losing their natural love of learning. As young children they are not afraid to make mistakes, speak their mind, ask a million questions or try something new. Almost all children start out this way, but as they make their way through k-12 they learn that mistakes are bad, questions are annoying and memorization of large amounts of information is the definition of success. As Robinson says “we are educating people out of their creative capacities”. We are never more creative than when we are children. We must make a conscious effort to nurture creativity as students get older. If you walk into a kindergarden classroom and ask who is an artist, almost every child will raise their hand. If you walk into a 5th grade classroom or a high school classroom, only a few students will raise their hand. Creativity is encouraged only within the confines of strict guidelines and rubrics (create this PowerPoint with this font on this topic with this many pages on this day….). When you look at the track record of incredibly creative individuals (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg) you will see a pattern of disengagement and struggle within formal school environments. Often times teachers are so focused on TEACHING the content to the students they fail to realize that teaching is not always necessary for learning to occur. It no longer makes sense for one individual (the teacher) to impart knowledge to a group (the students). Students now have access to information anywhere, anytime and teachers need to spend more time exciting the students about the content and facilitating the learning process. Memorization and regurgitation of facts is useless unless you plan on playing Jeopardy for a living. Learning is about the transfer of knowledge into your own life. Robinson defines creativity as ” the process of having original ideas that have value”. Do schools kill creativity? I believe they can and have for millions of children. It certainly did for me. I can count on one hand the times I had the opportunity to come up with original ideas (and most of those examples were from being involved in clubs such as Yearbook or Student Council). We have pockets of innovative teachers who are transforming their learning environments throughout the country, however I believe the majority of classrooms look exactly the same as they did in 1900.

2. Digital media can be a catalyst for creative thought IF it is used appropriately. If all you are doing is playing a video, it won’t do much to help foster creativity. When using a video, teachers can use strategies such as:

  • 3 Truths 1 Lie: Have the students watch the video clip and come up with 3 truths and 1 lie. Their peers have to guess the lie
  • Silent Video: Have the students watch a video without the audio so they can create their own voice-over. Explain the water cycle or the three branches of government in their own words
  • Transcripts: Take the transcript of a video (Obama’s Inaugural address for example) and put it in Woordle. Identify the main ideas of his speech and summarize it in their own words

Digital media brings the world to the classroom. Students are now instantly connected with information and experts. Skype with a state senator to learn more about citizenship. Assign a math explanation video on order of operations for homework (Flipping the Classroom) and provide time to practice and discuss in class. Share an image and ask students to write a caption that incorporates a vocabulary word. Provide students access to tools like Prezi, Animodo, Photo Peach or Glogster and let them create something they are passionate about and can share publicly. The more educators can surround themselves with others incorporating digital media in the classroom, the more they will improve their practice and find new, innovative ideas to engage their students.

Resource:

Robinson, K. (2006, February). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved August 3, 2008 from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Web site: http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

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