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How Creative Are You?

Posted on October 15th, 2015

We’ve chosen Creativity as a special theme this year at GSL. Creativity is one of the 21st century skills, along with collaboration, critical thinking, and communication.  It is also part of our mission statement. As educators at GSL, we are very mindful of the important role that creativity plays in our profession and in our daily work with students.

I observe two types of creativity at GSL. One is teaching creatively and the second is teaching for creativity. Ken Robinson, author and speaker, best makes the distinction between the two. “Teaching creatively means that the teachers use their own creative skills to make ideas and content more interesting. Some of the great teachers we know are the most creative teachers because they find a way of connecting what they’re teaching to student interests.  But you can also talk about teaching for creativity, where the pedagogy is designed to encourage other people to think creatively.  You encourage kids to experiment, to innovate, not giving them all the answers but giving them the tools they need to find out what the answers might be or explore new avenues.”

The creative teachers find ways to engage and differentiate for their students.   Children learn differently, have unique learning styles, interests, and challenges. The creative teachers have a way of establishing a learning environment where each child can be successful.

I walk the hallways and spend time in classrooms almost every day. GSL certainly has teachers who are creative and who teach for creativity. Our teachers develop engaging units of study, provide students with choices in their learning and provide students with opportunities to work in collaboration with others. Our students participate in special classes including science, technology, music, library, art, Spanish, and P.E. We have much to celebrate when it comes to teaching creativity, but we also have room for improvement. The sad reality is that young children come to school thinking of themselves as creative, but as time goes by they lose that sense of creativity, and by the time they are adults, most of them feel they are not creative at all.

Ken Robinson states, “Creativity is a function of intelligence and is as fundamental as literacy and numeracy.  All young children have immense creative confidence.  What strikes me is how few adults do.  The reason that adults often think they’re not very creative is that they have not found what they’re creative at.”

Something happens as we grow up. Somehow we lose the capacity for creativity. We come to Preschool and Lower School thinking we are creative and demonstrate that we are, but by the time we grow up we just don’t see ourselves as creative. This dilemma is not localized to GSL, but across America.  Our challenge as teachers and parents is to help our children maintain a sense of creativity, regardless of their age. Creativity, along with the other 21st century skills, is important for our children to possess because they will be entering the work place to jobs that do not even exist today.

Ken Robinson sums up my thoughts, “I think the challenge that faces America is one that faces the world just now, which is how on earth do we compose an education system to prepare people for a future that we don’t understand and cannot predict? The only way we can do it, I think, is to have children leave school firing on all cylinders-confident, creative, in their element, full of possibilities and full of hope.  We cannot predict the future, we can’t look above the horizon, but if we raise our children up, if we lift their eyes, maybe they’ll see over the horizon and they will help create this future and they will flourish in it. And if we do that, I think, we’ll have fulfilled our obligations as the current owners of education.”

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