Saturday, May 14, 2011

Creativity, Do We Allow It In Schools?

Day 16 of 30 Day Blog Challenge:

I watch the Disney television show Phineas and Ferb now and again. If you haven't seen it, I suggest you watch an episode or two. This children's television show screams creativity. It promotes pursuing your passions in a creative manner. This animated series involves two brothers, Phineas and Ferb, and their daily adventures during summer vacation. I find it quite ironic that the two boys explore their passions in the summer, and not during the school year. Actually, it does not surprise me.

Why do we make kids color within the lines? I am as guilty as any teacher or parent when it comes to this rule we have established. Creativity is finding your voice artistically. Who am I to say that because you color outside of the lines, you should be downgraded? Really? We set the precedence at an early age with kids that they must conform to specific guidelines when it comes to expressing creativity. By taking away a child's self expression and interpretation of themselves, are we creating robots?

The most annoying thing my students say I do is respond to their questions with a standard response, "I don't know?" I respond to them this way because they know the answer. They just haven't found it yet. Kids ask me all the time how they should present a project, or how a project should look. This bothers me. They are not expressing themselves if I am the one who is curbing their creativity. I can create or show an example of how I want something to look for my students. Guess what? All 26 projects submitted to me look, feel, and sound the same. When guidelines are lifted, the end results are magnificent. The learning is then extended. Kids start asking each other questions like: Wow, how did you do that? Can you show me how to do that? Instances like these allow for creativity in school.

This school year my students have embraced blogging. I truly believe it is because I allow them to write about whatever they want. I do assign topics for blogs from time to time based on class discussion, but the format allows for each individual to creatively express their thoughts and beliefs. The writing that has taken place this past year is by far the most creative and in-depth I have seen over the past eight years. The grammar and structure of the writing is the best I have seen. I asked my class last week why their writing is so much better this year than it was last year. Their overwhelming response, "You let us write about what we want to write about."

Creativity in school should not be limited to art projects. It should be allowed to flourish in all subjects. Creativity is essential for student engagement, and success in the 21st Century. So in the words of Phineas and Ferb, "I know what we are going to do today!"

So do your students, let them be creative.

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