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Are you a creative force in education?

The primary aim of school systems all over the world is to produce high test scores. The question we want to pose, however, is whether the world would not benefit more from creative, innovative, and talented persons? In fact, would these persons not be infinitely more capable of handling the challenges of modern life and taking advantage of the stunning possibilities that technology and globalization have to offer? (World Class Learners, education for an ambitious generation – Yong Zhao, 2014)

Art is an exemplary expression of creativity. You can stimulate creativity during a crafts class, for instance, or during drawing lessons. Creativity entails more than just art, however, as it is an indispensable part of our thinking. Creative thinking allows us to change our rusty thinking patterns, be it spontaneously or through the application of more correct thinking strategies. In fact, our creative skills ensure that we can come up with and improve new, original, and functional products and concepts; not only when it concerns art but also in relation to science and technology. Creativity is a prerequisite for innovation and problem solving; it is the driving force behind societal change and personal wellbeing; and it is an essential quality that ought to be developed from an early age.

Children are inherently curious and creative, but our educational system is focused on the search for a single correct answer and the copying of knowledge. Additionally, standardized texts place an emphasis on memory training instead of critical and creative thinking. This kind of ‘classic’ tests only marginally appeal to a child’s inherent curiosity and therefore reduces the joy that the child experiences during the learning process. The classic tests furthermore discourage the search for creative answers, i.e. answers that can complement or replace the original answer. In conclusion, it is of paramount importance to let children develop creatively, ambitiously, and internationally in order to prepare them for the future.

The stimulation of creativity in day-to-day education is not complicated and does not have to have an unstructured nature. There are numerous starting points in the existing education curriculum to boost the students’ creativity.

Four inspiring examples

More is less!

Give your students a page from a book, magazine, or newspaper that only contains text. The assignment goes as follows: Score out certain words until the remaining words form a poem or short story. This assignment not only allows your students to play around with language, but it also draws their attention to the fact that you do not always need more to create something.

Curious questions

Place a number of small figurines in the classroom. You can make them yourself or use figurines made out of Lego or Playmobil. Ask the students to come up with a few questions that the figurines would ask about the world that they can see from their own, limited perspective. The students write their questions down on yellow post-it notes and post them next to the figurines.

This assignment activates curiosity and stimulates its application to real-life situations, especially given that the figurines can develop a personality and role throughout time. When a new topic is introduced in the classroom, the figurines can be ‘asked’ what they would like to learn. This allows the students to learn about changing their perspective in a playful way.

Future story

The future cannot be predicted, given that both previous events and coincidence determine whatever is ahead of us. Take an object and answer the following question together with the students: “What else can we think of when we see this object?” Take a car, for example. Note the answers down on the whiteboard in the form of a tag cloud. In this instance, the words could be “gasoline”, “motor”, “steering wheel”, “trunk”, et cetera.

The students now use the answers to predict what the world would look like in 20 years. You could make the students sit in a circle, but it is also possible to ask them to draw or write alone or in pairs. This assignment stimulates scenario planning (i.e., what-if scenarios), causal cause-effect thinking, and is a perfect fit for lessons that focus on global studies.

Creature of habit

Discuss the concept of “habit” in a group discussion. Start off with the advantages, such as rules, agreements, and routine. Do forget to mention any disadvantages, however, like rigidity, unsolved problems, and the absence of innovation. The students then draw a creature of habit or make up a story about one. Afterwards, you could take the time to discuss what a fictive world with only creatures of habit would look like.

These activities aim to give an insight into the concepts of “creativity” and “innovation”.

Martine Creemers
Education specialist at ‘Education is Collaboration’
www.onderwijsmaakjesamen.nl

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