Teaching Creativity

An interesting link from a friend of mine:

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2011/12/teachers-dont-like-creative-students.html

It’s worth reading carefully, because it’s not saying precisely “what’s on the tin,” if you will. The actual research that’s described doesn’t say that teachers dislike creativity, it’s saying that teachers dislike some of the personality traits that are correlated with creative people.

It’s especially tough to teach creativity in this age of ubiquitous and mandatory testing. I’ve never heard of someone developing a successful standardized or even non-standardized test for creativity – correct me if I’m wrong, of course. Therefore, even if you’re successful, you’re left with very little to show for any efforts put in by you or your students.

I think this is one of those “breaking out of the system” moments. We spend so much time teaching our students to look for the one right answer, on problems that are designed to have just one right answer. It’s not that tough to find problems that have many right answers; we’re just not used to doing it. We as teachers learned primarily in the “one right answer” path, so of course that’s what we end up creating. We learned in classes where it’s important to sit down and shut up and pay attention, and we were once good at that, so we demand it regularly. We’re not good at that any more, but perhaps that’s just proof that we can change. I think that perhaps the best thing one can do to encourage creativity is simply not to stomp it out.

I’m not against teaching a certain amount of discipline. In fact, I think you’ll find that the most successful creative people are those who are disciplined. But immediately squashing a bad idea doesn’t help someone come up with good ones. Let that bad idea grow and flourish for a while. Let people see every little bad thing about it and figure it out for themselves. After all, along with being creative, we’re trying to teach these kids to be intelligent. If we can do that, we don’t have to rush in to squash every idea but the “right one,” even on questions that do only have one right answer. The kids can figure it out themselves; we’re just there to help.

Other links about creativity and teaching creativity:

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/334/6062/1499.full

http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/12/why-people-secretly-fear-creative-ideas.php

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2012/02/states_exploring_a_creativity.html

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About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on February 8, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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