Fostering Creativity in the Classroom

Is creativity innate, or can it be taught?  This question is the subject of debate among educators, neuroscientists, and psychologists. Unfortunately, the current model of the American education system is based on a “factory model” that does not encourage creative thought.  In fact, a 2006 TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson centered on the assumption that “Schools Kill Creativity.”  An article in Psychology Today, enumerates traits that support the creative process: “Openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion-introversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism; they are sometimes referred to collectively by the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE.“ Educators can begin to alter the educational paradigm to foster creativity by incorporating methods that address concepts beyond academic achievement. Rather than focusing solely on content-specific topics, thus emphasizing relevant skills that can help them function in the 21st. century. Step one is establishing a positive classroom environment that enables the teacher to provide opportunities for creative thinking. The eminent psychologist Dr. Carl Rogers  maintained that  ”an unconditional positive regard for this person . . . is an outgoing, positive feeling without reservations and without evaluations. It means not making judgments.” Of course, educators, too, need to feel that they have the latitude to  experiment with a variety of methods that foster creativity: they must teach creatively. Developing an environment that emphasizes an open mindset is another essential component for creative thought.  Modeling positivity and communicating possibilities enhances thought. Let students know that mistakes are learning opportunities rather than failures.  Banish    “closed mindset,” “I can’t” dialog in the classroom.  Words  have a powerful effect on thought. For example, classifying some activity or concept as challenging rather than difficult or impossible can change someone’s attitude. Teachers can provide opportunities for open communication include questioning, brainstorming and synthesizing. “If we want our students to do well with this creative skill, we need to model the thinking of synthesis in a low-stakes, scaffolding activity that they can translate into a more academic pursuit.”   In the 1950′s Benjamin Bloom developed his taxonomy of cognitive objectives, Bloom’s Taxonomy.   He defines synthesis as the putting together of elements and parts so as to form a whole. Have FUN in the classroom with innovative way of presenting information by employing different strategies like games, and hands-on projects. Allow students to be partners in creative thinking by providing opportunities for student engagement in the teaching/learning process.   I will provide specifics in the next blogs.

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