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February 20, 2019

Allowing Creativity to Flourish in the Classroom

Creativity isn't just about artistic prowess. There is creativity in how you solve a problem and in the types of questions you ask. There is creativity in how you express your ideas and how you get around roadblocks. Creativity is an important quality in and out of the art room, and that is why we must allow it to flourish in every classroom.

Why creativity matters

Sadly, much of curriculum is focused on teaching students particular facts and discrete skills in as efficient a way a possible. This makes sense in a lot of ways. Why wouldn’t we want our students to learn efficiently? Just as the fastest way to make a lot of identical cars is to have a bunch of people repeat the same, discrete task over and over again, so the fastest way to ensure an identical education for a lot of people is to have a bunch of teachers drill the same, discrete facts over and over again. Both systems are manageable, which means some standard of quality can be monitored and maintained.

The thing about an assembly line is it’s better for the owner than the worker. The worker is deskilled and only needs to perform a simple task. This makes it easy for the owner to replace the worker; there is no actual skill needed for the job. Similarly our educational models are better for the state than for the teacher and students. Making the curriculum easily testable is about making sure the state can quickly “see” how each school is doing  —  who is performing and who isn’t  —  but it deskills teachers and takes away their ability to adjust to student needs. It can also squash the creative thinking of students.

Giving students choice and connecting ideas cross-departmentally will also encourage creativity. But if you don’t have time to rework a lesson plan or get buy-in across different departments, we added Critical Thinking Templates to the Pear Deck for Google Slides Add-on to help make creative thinking a regular part of any type of lesson. You can add one of these templates to any lesson to prompt your students to flex their own thinking muscles. Checks-for-understanding are an important way to make sure your students aren’t getting lost, but asking these open-ended questions will help students learn to approach problems creatively.

A slide that reads "I wonder..."

When you select one of these templates, you’ll see guiding instructions in the “Presenter Notes” area to help you know how to alter the slide and how to use it to prompt student thinking. You’ll find templates to encourage students to make connection across topics, to ask their own big questions, and to propose approaches to a problem.

Just as we’ve begun to realize literacy shouldn’t be restrained to language class, so should creativity be let outside of the arts.


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