Happy National Keep Kids Creative Week! We’ve prepared this post to highlight the importance of creativity in education and how we can foster it in our classrooms.
WHAT IS CREATIVITY AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Many people limit creativity to the arts. While the arts definitely require creativity, creativity is so much more than that. Dictionary.com defines creativity as
the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc,; originality progressiveness, or imagination.
Creativity is really a way of thinking that can be applied to every aspect of life. Creative thinking helps people come up with practical and valuable ways of doing things as well as discover new ideas and possibilities. This kind of thinking has become essential for competing in the modern day world. It’s a transferable skill that will allow our students to succeed in the future.
CREATIVITY AND EDUCATION
By encouraging, teaching, and fostering creativity teachers are helping students prepare for their future. According to Adobe’s Creativity and Education: Why it Matters study 71% of college-educated professionals think creative thinking should be taught as a course. 78% say creativity is very important for their career, but only 57% thought so when they were in school. By incorporating education into our classrooms we are helping students make the most of their lives now and in the future.
With standardized tests around every corner, it can be hard to foster this kind of creativity. So we’ve prepared some tips to help you get your students thinking creatively.
Creativity is fueled by the desire to know how something works and discover new ways of solving problems. If you’ve ever had a conversation with a three-year-old then you understand the creativity I am talking about here. The constant “why” questions and the crazy explanations they have for why things are might seem silly, but a few are quite innovative and brilliant.
One way teachers can invoke more curiosity in their students is by asking them questions or describing something without telling them what it is so that they have to think about it. My chemistry teacher in high school started our first class by telling us he was too upset about a social issue in the country’s water supply to teach. He then asked us a bunch of questions, such as
“What if I told you that there is a chemical in our water system that if a person goes three days without it they die? Governments agencies are aware and they don’t care.”
After we were all ready to sign a petition and go protest on the lawn to remove this chemical from our water fountain he revealed to us we had been discussing H2O the whole time. He evoked in us not just curiosity, but the realization of the importance of education.
#2 MINDFULNESS AND THINKING
One of the things that makes small children so creative is that they are mindful of their surroundings and have time to think about and question them. It’s hard to be creative when your brain is suppressed by too much information.
Some teachers have realized the benefits of mindfulness on test scores and incorporated the exercise before tests. If it helps test scores just imagine how much more students could achieve if we incorporated it into everyday teaching as well. Whenever you sense your students zoning out on you or having a difficult time grasping a concept, pause and do a two-minute mindfulness exercise with them.
#3 COLLABORATION AND THINKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Encourage students to collaborate and discuss assignments. Ideas come from connecting and questioning the nets of knowledge in our brain. They are influenced by one’s life experience; things they’ve tried, read, discussed, witnessed, etc. By discussing the topic at hand they expand their nets of knowledge and increase their creative potential.
On top of collaboration, encourage students to think outside the box. And what better way than to be outside the box with your teaching. Who says the classroom has to be a classroom? Take your students outside or on a field trip. Psychology shows that our brains are more aware when we are in a new and unfamiliar environment. So switch things up to get your students thinking differently.
WHAT TO AVOID
While there are many things one can do to encourage creativity there are also things they can do which will hinder it.
- Avoid offering incentives for creativity. Everyone is motivated differently. We don’t want to make it a competition. We want to encourage students to foster a new way of thinking and for some that might happen at a slower pace and in a different way than others.
- Don’t criticize poor ideas, question them. Make the student think deeper about their idea. We all need a little help questioning our ideas sometimes it’s easier to see things from the outside.
We hope these ideas help you foster more creativity in your life and in your classroom. Stay tuned for our follow up series all about creativity.
How do you foster creativity in your life and work? Share your tips in the comment section below.
Interested in creative tools for your classroom? Check out Creativity 365 Education.
Also published on Medium.