When educators, parents, and students think of creativity, they usually think of Art class. That may have been true 20 years ago, but times certainly have changed. Most students doing work in classrooms today will be entering a job force their predecessors could hardly imagine. Learning a specific skill set doesn’t necessarily have the same value it once did. Students today have to be more adaptable – creative – than ever before.
According to Kristin Hicks (Why Creativity in the Classroom Matters More than Ever), “Creativity is no longer seen as just being for artists and musicians. It’s a crucial skill for everybody to master. Creativity these days equates to thinking outside pre-made parameters. It means coming up with alternative ideas to solutions.”
How do you infuse creativity into your everyday classes? Here are a number of ideas to ponder:
• Don’t limit assignments to one format. You can provide students the assignment, but encourage them to add a drawing, video, photograph, or physical example to make their point.
• Work a “genius hour” into the school day or week. It is to the student’s advantage to be allowed to “create” anything from a story to a mechanical model to a drawing. Students can also use this time to do research about a particular artist, musician, or subject that ties into their project.
• Creative team building. Sometimes it’s just fun to get kids together and do some team building. A classroom should be a collaborative environment where students work together to further everyone’s education. Select a simple task that would only take one class period. Building materials, student-to-student continuing story lines, and “What If?” scenarios, all are ideas that students can use their creativity to make the assignment their own.
• Active learning. Active learning includes use of creative goods such as games, concepts, maps, and study materials. Create interactions that provide students with problem-solving opportunities. Give them opportunities for hands-on fieldwork. Books are important to learn the basic rules, but curriculums such as STEM and STEAM offer opportunities to actually build or experiment with what is assigned.
• Integrate other subjects into your main topic. Introduce art, music, and history into your assignments. Let students approach the assignment from a different point of view. Instead of a first-person solution, encourage students to give a historical, musical, mathematical, or artistic point of view.
• Make creative rules for the teacher first. There is a great article promoting creativity in your classroom every day. The link: Creativity; a few of the highlights:
— Ban clip art – make students create their own art
— Ask for information to be shared in at least two media formats or writing types
— Give points for “design” on all assignments
— Teach the proper use of quoted materials
— Seek out creative ideas from other educators
— Add creativity places for display of student work in your classroom.
Creativity is a way of thinking, a way of being. It should be encouraged as much as physical education, science, mathematics, or technology. It is a much-needed force in the classroom, and will reward the educator with brighter students that have an advantage on the future.