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How Teachers are Boosting Creativity

Posted Nov 16 2012 8:37pm

By Brian Jenkins

It’s difficult for students to be creative in bare, boring, lecture-based classrooms; stimulating activities, on the other hand, inspire creativity.

Students need opportunities to explore, discover, and use their imagination. The emphasis should be on the process, not the product.

Let’s take a look at how creativity is being fostered in schools today.

Student Blogs

At some schools, teachers encourage students to maintain blogs, which can be individual or team projects.

Blogs give students the opportunity to express themselves, especially shy students. Student blogs may also involve a digital portfolio, further fostering creativity. Through blogs, students can receive feedback from their peers and discuss a variety of issues.

Blogs allow students to share their creative ideas. Creative thinking takes time; with a blog students can take their time to say what they want to say.

Ruth Reynard , Associate Professor of Education and the Director of the Center for Instructional Technology at Trevecca Nazarene University, said, “The blog’s biggest strength is in the development and authentication of the student voice in learning.”

Gardner Campbell , Director of Professional Development and Innovative Initiates in the Division of Learning Technologies at Virginia Tech, said, “Because blogging is so malleable, it’s a wonderful platform for creativity.” Blogging encourages a higher level of thinking because the focus is more on the process of constructing and evaluating knowledge.

According to some teachers, blogging works best when it’s blended into the curriculum. This way, blog posts serve as extensions of classroom discussions or as inspiration for future classroom conversations.

Montessori Schools

The Montessori education is based on the idea that students learn best in a supportive, enriched environment via exploration, discovery, and creativity along with encouragement and guidance from staff members. Students are encouraged to pursue their interests, make responsible choices, and direct themselves in activities. Students can choose to work on any activities they want and work on them as long as they desire. The wide array of materials available in the classrooms encourage creativity.

Creativity and fantasy are important aspects of students’ experiences at Montessori. The classrooms integrate music, art, creative drama, and dance throughout the curriculum. Imagination plays a major role as students explore how the natural world works and search for creative solutions to problems.

At Desert Garden Montessori, students create their own products or services to sell and trade at the Mercado (Spanish for market) for play money. Students in Kindergarten and the elementary grades, including upper elementary grades, participate in the Mercados.

Lecia Michels , the Montessori public relations manager, stated, “The Mercado happens three times a year and the students really get creative with it.” She went on to state, “We try not to have things that are pre-made for them, we want them to create their own things to sell.”

One of the kids created a panning-for-gold business. A group of students brought their dogs to the Mercado and charged $3 of play money to let other kids walk the dogs in an enclosed area. One student sold comic books he created, while others made robots out of recyclable materials.

Michels stated, “It’s a learning process for them, so if they have a business and it’s not successful, they realize they’ve made a bad choice and need to revamp what they’re doing.” The teachers don’t revamp the projects; the students use their creativity to improve them on their own.

According to Michels, “All of this learning is based on taking care of themselves through self-motivated, self-directed learning, so if a child is in a moment where they just love math, they can study math for hours that day. It’s completely different from a traditional school; here, it’s really more about creativity and having the kids be inspired.”

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, believe that their years as Montessori students were a major factor in their success.

They learned to be self-directed and self-starters at Montessori. They were able to think for themselves and had the freedom to pursue their own interests.

Thomas Tallis School

The Thomas Tallis School, located in London, bases their teaching on the motto “Excellence through creativity.”

Students in year 7 make creative videos to share their learning. They used Flip cameras and iMovie to make films based on their mathematical investigations.

Students also participate in a poetry and film workshop. Groups work together write a poem, storyboard a film based on the poem, and then shoot and edit the footage.

Students allowed to explore and experiment feel free to create, invent, and find new ways to do things. Creativity should certainly be part of the daily classroom experience.

Brian Jenkins writes about careers in education for the Riley Guide. He contributes content on a wide variety of other career fields as well, including automotive technology .


Photo added: Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1999 in their Menlo Park, Calif., garage office space – from CNN Money article: The 12 greatest entrepreneurs of our time .


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