Sunday, January 27, 2013

Addressing the Creativity Crisis in Education - What I'll do differently in the new semester

I came across a couple blog posts this morning that got me thinking about the upcoming semester.  It starts tomorrow.  What will I do differently from day one?

The first blog (posted on the Des Moines Register Staff Blog) raised the question of whether our students' lack of creativity is a problem.  It cites some test results that indicate creativity has been in a steady decline since 1990.  

As I have written previously, the focus on standardized tests and a right answer has sucked a lot of creativity out of the classroom.  While a lack of creativity in our youth is an obvious problem for them and us in the future, I believe much of the lack of engagement we see in students now can also be attributed to this.  Yes, less creative workforce ten years from now is bad, but when it comes to learning now, creativity is the oil in the machine.  Without it, the system grinds to a boring halt.

Can I take this opportunity post that picture I put up last spring?  I think it fits:

I am tired of the credit machine.  Do this assignment and get credit.  Get enough right answers on this quiz, then this test and then this exam and you get credit.  Get enough credit and you get out of here.  It is a boring game and it's no wonder that at an earlier and earlier age we see them refusing to play.

So what will I do differently this semester?

  • I am going to focus on creating things.  I want students to remember they can create.  It is rewarding to create.
  • I am going to remind them that we need them to create.  The joy they find in it now is a hint that they were made for it.  They can make something that can meet a need for someone else.  What they create matters.
  • I will continue to model creativity and learning.  What important things have I learned that I'm excited about?  What have I created that makes a contribution?  I will share those things with my students.
  • I will present the learning objectives in a way that their value is obvious.
That last point deviates from my focus on creativity, but it brings me to the second blog post I read today.  It was from David Warlick-- the Essence of Authentic Learning.  He states that when authentic learning takes place the value of what is learned is obvious to the learner.

So that's my focus this semester:  Valuable learning objectives and lots of opportunity for creativity

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