Stuff I Found

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Demand creativity in schools?

Came across this blog post today on a high school principal's blog (a principal keeping a blog is noteworthy in and of itself, I think). In the post the author writes:

Educators and employers agree that creativity is increasingly important in U.S. workplaces, according to a recent report. Yet, the report suggests a disconnect exists between what survey respondents say they believe and how they act. In fact, findings indicate most high schools and employers provide creativity-conducive education and training only on an elective or “as needed” basis.

He (or she) also writes:

The most successful students will be ones who had opportunities to enhance their creativity. However, we are doing this next generation a true disservice by stressing (and only measuring) a narrow regimen of skills that lend themselves easily to standardized testing. Activities must be planned in each academic area of the school that will promote creativity. These activities are time consuming, complex, and cumbersome and therefore, are the first activities that are neglected (often times due to the pressures of getting students up to par on standardized tests).

So we have a bit of a problem: what exactly does it mean to incorporate creativity into the classroom? Can it be encouraged the way math skills are, with judging and grading and passing and failing? Do they have to come in the form of rigorously planned out complex activities?

I don't think creativity needs to be "taught" as in a lesson plan, or given as an "activity" ... it simply needs to be allowed and supported.

By allowing creativity I mean giving students time to be creative, by which I mean stop teaching useless stuff! Math and science and history teachers tend to claim that just about everything currently being taught is important. Two problems with this: firstly, what exactly is taught and tested often differs from school to school, county to county, so how can it be that vital if there isn't even a consensus on what exactly should be taught? Secondly, as every student knows, most of the knowledge memorized will never be used again after a test! But teachers can't seem to accept this. Why? Many lectures and homework assignments are just a blatant waste time. (Sadly, I guess most students tend to forget this after graduating and wind up supporting it later on down the road, sometimes by becoming teachers themselves.)

By supporting creativity I mean not discouraging students from doing those day-dreamy creative things like drawing, doodling, writing stories, and filming films. It doesn't matter if the student isn't going to become a famous artist or novelist later on! It doesn't matter if they "don't stand a chance" with their art ... when did the point of being creative become a quest for fame and fortune?! To be creative is a human desire that goes beyond such things; to discourage creativity simply because it's hard to become famous is harmful absurdity. When that student stops paying attention to the lecture, looks out the window, and dreams of other worlds, he is exemplifying one of the most beautiful and important aspects of human intelligence. The moment a teacher and his ego punishes such a student, something very good and important is being ruthlessly squandered. :-(

I didn't see the author's name given anywhere, but the blog itself, The Principal's Office, seems to have plenty of interesting posts. I hope I remember to revisit it! I definitely recommend checking it out.


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