Creativity in Education

Prior to writing this, I listened to the TED Interview with Ken Robinson. He made great emphasis on keeping creativity in education, making an argument that currently takes away your creativity if you are not careful. But what does he mean when he says creativity?

What is creativity?

Creativity is not just referring to the arts. It can be integrated in every subject in school. In science it allows us to ask new questions and come up with new experiments. In math it allows us to find new ways to apply a formula we’ve learned. How do we foster this creativity if we are put in a rigid structure of curriculum? Ken Robinson made a great point that it’s not just the curriculum that influences the student. The teacher, while tied to the requirements of assessment, can use their pedagogy to foster a classroom environment that encourages creativity. Learning from a textbook can only go so far before the student needs the skills to apply that knowledge to the real world.

Creativity is also a product of the fact that each person is unique. This interview reaffirmed my belief in existentialism as a teaching philosophy. Each person brings their own views and experiences in the classroom and should be able to foster those to further grow as an individual. I would like to say that we have come far from the Plus 11 test that Robinson spoke about that determined a student’s path (either join the workforce or continue your education), but with all our standardized testing, we still have further to go. A student’s math or reading ACT score should not be the only factor to get into college when they might be pursuing an art degree. While I know this isn’t entirely the case, high school GPAs and standardized test scores are still relevant when applying to colleges. 

Schools promoting creativity

Robinson described some examples where schools have been reformed to foster creativity and growth over pure curriculum. One example that might not be as dramatic but is a little closer to home is my old high school. While our school day was still structured, it moved from 7 class periods to splitting up the day into 30 minute modules and placing classes throughout, very similar to how a college schedule is. This allowed us to take the initiative on where we wanted to spend our free time (30 minute blocks where we didn’t have class). This allowed me to become more invested in music as I would spend my free time in the choir room. If I would not have been given this outlet, I might not have a love and appreciation for music that I do today. 

Technology fostering creativity

With technology ever changing, I feel as I am in the unique position to help empower others to best utilize it. While I may not be teaching in the traditional sense, I believe I can still use my job to foster creativity in others. For example, Robinson brought up the example of Google and how information is readily available. This may be the case, but in order for students to use this tool, they have to know how to use it. There are many great resources on the internet, but I never realized how much I utilized it on a daily basis. When I’m trying to accomplish something, such as designing a website, this is the first tool I turn to. The convenience helps foster my drive to problem solve. It wasn’t until I started supervising students and helping out at the service desk that I realized this isn’t an inherent skill. I feel as if because students nowadays are growing up with technology, we are assuming they automatically know how to use it. We need to shift focus in schools to teach this skill, as it is very relevant to have in today’s society.

In my own teaching I strive to do what I can to provide students resources that will empower them to do this along with faculty members. I like to think that also providing resources like the Tech Bar and Tech Bar Studio, our team in Academic Technology can help foster creativity in students, no matter their discipline.