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The Case for Creativity in Education

What does creativity have to offer in education? I know that this is nowhere near a new concept in...

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Derek Jones
9 May 2010

What does creativity have to offer in education?

I know that this is nowhere near a new concept in education, but it has often been mistaken for 'artistic' rather than academic creativity. My personal starting point is to suggest that creativity is a unique and particular way of thinking that is undervalued as a learning outcome in itself. 

In particular, I might suggest that :

 

  • Creativity is an essential basic component of our functioning minds. Without it, we do not generate new 'thoughts'.
  • Creativity is a facility that can be developed in any individual (even taught) and there is no barrier to this other than those we create ourselves.
  • Creativity can be used as a powerful learning tool (information is useful, but using information is even more important). Students who use creativity in learning are far more likely to retain information through understanding.
  • Creativity demands that the learner explores and tests new ideas for themselves, making creative individuals more likely to become self-learners.
  • Creativity is often repressed in favour of achieving goal oriented, cognitive, and information based targets (academic awards, skills, economic requirements, etc). 

 

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Personal starting point #1

It was very weird in my first tutorial dayschool to have to teach fully grown adults that it was ok to doodle, to try new things, to fail, and to ask questions.

Yet that was what happened. When you ask an adult (of a certain mindset) to design a thing they can sometimes look puzzled, confused, nervous, anxious, aggressive, self-conscious. When you ask a child to do this they pick up a pencil and start to draw.

Why is this?

The most common answers given by my students were :

Fear of failure

Fear of being judged

Fear of appearing stupid 

And all of these are self imposed limits on how we think and are prepared to discuss our thoughts with others. It is, in effect, a form of Self-Censorship. When we think in this mode we are never going to come up with a new idea - our 'self' will not allow it.

The willingness (on the part of the child) to simply try something in order to see what happens, without fear of failure or being judged or appearing stupid, is at the center of creativity and learning (for me). The ability is an incredible one to have and one that is so often driven out of young minds in a goal oriented, failure obsessed environment.

So, personal starting point #1 is that it is a shame that so many people lose the ability to try things and enjoy failure - you don't learn from failure - you learn from the stuff you tried before you failed.

Derek Jones
19:28 on 15 June 2010

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Creativity in Education - an Introduction

Creativity in Education - an Introduction

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