Unleashing Student Creativity
19 Mar, 2015
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it! Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.—attributed to Goethe
Just do it.— Nike
When I was very young, my aunt and uncle gave me what, to this day, is the most splendid gift I ever received. It was a box filled with “stuff.” By that I mean tissue paper, cardboard, colored tiles, feathers of all colors, sequins, beads, chenille sticks, glue...any number of materials with no accompanying directions and no information about what to do.
Simply a box of stuff.
And in this box I found...everything. I could make anything, think and do anything. There were materials—raw goods—from which all things could be created, and my opportunities were limitless.
The world really is this way. It is a giant box of craft items from which anything may be created—even the materials themselves. There are no limits. It’s simply a matter of opening the box, jumping in, and doing it.
What a Child Knows
As a child, I found this concept so simple and straightforward as to be a non matter. Crayons and paper? Just do it. Sand and bucket? Just do it. Mud and my own two hands? Just do it. No how or why or what will so-and-so think ever entered the equation.
What changed? My world, I suppose, and the perceived message that creative expression has a goal and audience inherent within it. But that’s just it...creativity is “the thing.” There is no prerequisite goal, no audience to appease, no assessment that has any inherent meaning other than the pleasure of the doer and whomever gets to enjoy the work. There really are no rules.
So how do we allow for creativity in a world charged with addressing standards, assessing at prescribed levels, and moving children forward at benchmarked rates? I think much of the answer is found within us, the teachers. It’s in our openness to allowing students to demonstrate understanding—and thinking—in ways that appeal to them. It’s in allowing for their own ownership of their work. “Show me” can be much more powerful than “answer me.”
Open the box...
How do you allow for creativity in your classroom?