Creativity used to be seen as a natural ability, one you were either born with or would never have. Not anymore. What’s more, creativity in the classroom has been harder to come by. We now know creativity is something that can be learned, honed and improved by any student, young or old, whether they can draw or not.
Sir Ken Robinson in a 2003 TED talk explained how our current testing-focused school systems suppress creativity by teaching toward one right answer, and leave little room for divergent thinking. Creativity in the classroom can make a huge impact on how kids view themselves while decoupling from a test-focused curriculum.
This stagnation is not only hurting us as adults but it’s hurting our economy. Businesses, particularly tech companies and consulting firms, increasingly value creativity among workers. They incentivize innovative methods and provide training aimed at unlocking their employees’ creative potential. According to David Hughes, founder of Decision Labs and professor at UNC Chapel Hill, the innovation that is not taught in school is an essential skill for our global economy.
If you are an educator at any level, you can help your students’ overall performance and future employability by incorporating some simple methods into classroom activities.
Here are examples that can help develop and unlock their creativity:
- Build creativity into the classroom & the learning process: Create a classroom environment where creativity can run wild. Designate a thinking table, a drama stage, a drawing table, and a space for groups to discuss ideas.
- Incentivize creative thinking: Design awards and hold ceremonies that recognize student innovation. Discuss how each effort came to be and why it was noteworthy. Create a bulletin board to showcase different ways of solving a problem. Post visual aids that present creative solutions to real world scenarios.
- Use proven strategies: Successful creative thinking activities typically use media and arts to trigger cognitive functioning and emotional connections. The Osborn-Parnes training program is the oldest program for creativity training and is based on a six-step methodology:
- Mess-finding. Identify a goal or objective.
- Fact-finding. Gathering data.
- Problem-finding. Clarifying the problem
- Idea-finding. Generating ideas
- Solution-finding. Strengthening and evaluating ideas
- Acceptance-finding. Plan of action for Implementing ideas
- Give Students ownership of learning process: Think of ways where students might design a project or a lesson plan complete with a problem a format for innovative thinking to find a solution.
- Explore different cultures: In Thinking Hats & Coloured Turbans, Dr. Kirpal Singh discusses how cultural contexts are central to creative endeavors. Discuss how collaboration between cultures, such as in the space program, produces unique, novel ideas.
- Get multidisciplinary: Geometry through art. History through film. Few problems in the real world are unidimensional, so teach children through intersecting disciplines and incorporate extracurricular tools as much as possible.