How To Encourage Creativity Within Your School
Published on 05/10/16
Creativity is widely considered to be representative of artistic and musical traits, but what we forget is the fact that in order to solve a problem, we have to respond to it creatively in order to come up with an effective solution. But can creativity actually be taught?
"We believe that certain habits, behaviours and strategies associated with the creative process can be modelled in classroom learning. We believe that classroom curricula can promote and sustain nurturing environments for creativity. But we don't believe that creativity itself can be taught. Not directly."
- Psychology Today
Being able to identify problems, generate creative solutions, evaluate the effectiveness of the response, and then communicate the value of the solution - is an incredibly desirable skill to acquire. There's no two ways about it - if given the choice, we would choose to be creative if given the opportunity to be so. The question we need to be asking ourselves is how we can foster an environment that encourages and applauds creativity in all of its forms.
It's not a discussion of nature and nurture. It's more to do with how we can not only allow for creativity in the classroom but to nurture students' inherent creative tendencies. But how?
Don't Condemn Disruption - Replace It
Kids who question, debate, and argue could be considered as creative, arguably they can also be considered as disruptive. This type of behaviour, in an uncontrolled environment is 'misplaced creativity'. Students need to have an awareness of when this type of creativity should be explored and when it should be considered. Try and organise controlled and structured debates within your classroom to get your students engaged in a particular subject; ask their opinions and what they would do differently if they were presented with the same problem. Creativity without self control is unlikely to result in anything useful.
Creativity requires form; a box, parameter, or constraints. Just as an artist cannot paint without a surface, a musician cannot make music without an instrument, a carpenter cannot carve without the wood - there are always restrictions as to what any creative can actually create; depending on their tools, skills and materials. Without these constraints it's easy to become paralysed by choice and come face to face with the common hurdle of 'blank page syndrome'.
Foster Your Genius
Elizabeth Gilbert, the critically acclaimed author of 'Eat, Pray, Love' can obviously be considered as 'creative'. In this TED talk she explores the idea that, instead of someone "being" a genius, everyone "has" a genius in them somewhere - it's just a matter of harnessing that genius.
There are always going to be different inherent levels of creativity amongst your class, but with that being said, it's like a muscle - it can be trained. If you train yourself to think differently (and there are a multitude of ways to do this) you can become more creative. This will allow you to become a creative role model for your students. Your creativity will be reflected through your lessons and thus inspire your students to utilise their creativity within any subject.
Creative, Safe Haven
Research suggests that environments play a large part in students' creativity levels. This isn't solely down to the colours, layout and overall ambience of the place - although this is very important - but also the relationships with the people around you. If a student feels socially comfortable, they will be more likely to explore any subject in a more creative manner.
Prepare For Failure
A lot of schools, businesses or organisation fail to incentivise their students or employees to do things differently. Too often in these environments, people are working to deadlines; whether it's for a client project or to an assessment. At the end of the day, innovation and creativity takes time because it involves a lot of failure.
Get your students to work together in team activities. Encourage them to teach one another and get everyone involved. There are always going to be students who feel more confident in different areas of any subject, so use this to your advantage.
Make Student Work Public
By allowing your students to have an active role in the creation of content for your school website by creating reporting projects, you will find that updating your website no longer becomes a chore. This also gives your students a sense of ownership and builds their confidence by producing great work that isn't just going to be seen by their teachers, but by anyone who visits your school websites.
This school uses their campus as a working museum; documenting the work of their students throughout their corridors and entrance ways. Watch the video here.
In whatever discipline, creativity is primarily an ability to challenge the status quo and come up with new and better solutions.
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