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Creativity in the Classroom
Creativity in the classroom is more important than ever. But before we get going on why exactly it’s so important - you might be wondering, what is creativity? And that’s a great question, and something that will set the groundwork for this entire article.
Creativity itself is pretty broad. It may be tempting to look at creativity as a skill - for example, if you can paint or if you can sing, you must be a creative person. But in reality, the concept of creativity is more nuanced than that. Creativity is the force behind innovation. The world is chock-full of inventions that would have never happened had their inventors not been creative thinkers.
Creativity is about challenging the status quo, not taking no for an answer, and discovering new ways to solve problems. Thinking outside the box, essentially.
Think about it - who would have ever thought, even as little as 30 years ago, that most of us would carry a functioning computer in the palm of our hands on a day-to-day basis? Not many of us. But one person (or a group of very creative people) did. And that’s how we got to be where we’re at with mobile devices.
This line of thinking begins with creativity in schools and promoting creativity in early childhood education. Creative teachers and creative learning challenge the habit of static learning and deny the fact that there’s just one way to solve a problem or reach a viable solution.
Creative teachers agree to the fact that while yes, 1+1 will always equal two, there are more ways than just one to reach that answer.
Creativity in the classroom encourages independent thinking and confident learners. These types of creative students are empowered and they question the norms that many of us have grown up with.
Let it be known that creativity shouldn’t be a standalone subject. Instead, it should be woven into everything that’s taught in schools.
And, of course, Six In Schools is a great free activity and framework for unlocking creativity in the classroom, then optionally memorializing that creativity with a published book.
Importance of Creativity in the Classroom
The importance of creativity in the classroom cannot be overstated. There are so many reasons as to why it’s an essential tool. Here are a few reasons behind the importance of creativity for students:
• It reduces stress and anxiety
• It allows students to enter their own zone and have fun with the work they’re doing
• With creativity, you stop relying on what you know to be true and start wondering what else COULD be true
• It allows students to express themselves
• Creativity allows students to relate to each other on a human level
• It promotes the idea of taking risks while still in a safe environment
• It encourages students to be leaders
• Creativity is all about making change
• It links the head and the heart
• It gives students renewed energy and enthusiasm for learning
For adults, it’s easy to get caught up in the banality of your everyday routines, and that’s where the importance of creativity in teaching comes in.
The role of teacher in developing creativity is a big one. To learn how to think creatively, a student needs a leader and a guide. While children are naturally curious and open to new things, they need this behavior nurtured by teachers who are a regular part of their lives. When students see their teachers thinking and teaching creatively, it encourages them to do the same. And not only does it encourage them, it also gives them the freedom to think outside the box and do things that they might have been wary to do before. A creative teacher paves the way for their creative students.
What is Creativity in Education?
So, what is creativity in education? It looks something like this:
• Including students in the decision-making process
• Allowing students to learn, think, and plan with each other
• Giving out meaningful assignments that allow the freedom of the student to play to their strengths, instead of promoting rote memorization
• Creating engaging lessons that encourage the use of imagination
• Emphasizing how everyone in the classroom is different and how every student’s strengths are valuable
• Being curious about new things and instilling the genuine desire to learn
How to promote creativity in the classroom is not as difficult as you might think. How to foster creativity begins with creative thinking from the teacher themselves, and focusing on lessons that:
• Encourage multiple ways to solve problems: flexibility is crucial in creative thinking
• Build a safe and open space where students know that it’s not only okay to fail, that failure is encouraged - because it’s something to learn from
• Weave creativity into multiple subjects so students’ imaginations are always at work
• Adapt lessons and methods of thinking to cater to individual students in order to play to their strengths
• Embrace group projects: they inspire creative thinking through collaboration and teamwork
• Challenge yourself, as the educator, to use creativity every day: have fun with this, as the more that your students see you being creative yourself, the more they’re going to want to try it. Think of all sorts of different methods that you can put across a lesson to your students. For example, how could you teach if you couldn't talk? Would you use symbols? Would you act out the lesson in a game of charades? Would you put across the concept in code using emojis and characters? This method for challenging yourself as an adult will help to expand your mind and get your students engaged as well.
Activities that Promote Creativity in the Classroom
How to promote creativity in the classroom is much simpler than you might think. Here are a handful of activities that promote creativity that you can incorporate in your classroom on a daily basis:
Choosing a flexible classroom layout
Instead of creating a line of desks, you can encourage activities that promote creativity in the classroom by creating pods, a U-shaped layout, or separate group tables that are great for group work. Experiment to see what feels right for your class.
Create a classroom library
You can encourage reading in your classroom, and even supply a ‘creativity in the classroom’ book in this library.
Visualize goals and ideas
Creative classroom activities start with visualization, and you can help students do this with graphic organizers such as mind maps, Venn diagrams, and visual timelines.
Take teaching outside
When the weather is nice, use that opportunity to create an outdoor classroom. You can explore activities that you can't do while indoors and even set up an outdoor project like a vegetable garden.
Encourage hands-on learning
When you incorporate hands-on learning, students are encouraged to express new ideas, think critically, and voice their unique opinions, and engage with the material on a deeper level.
Explore different cultures
Exploring different cultures allows students to think outside of their own four walls. By celebrating global holidays and learning their originals, you can open up your students’ eyes to different worldviews.
Comedy requires creativity, and incorporating humor into your classroom encourages positive thought and an environment that is suitable for outside-the-box planning.
Creativity Examples for Students
If you’re still curious about creativity activities for students, don’t worry. Here are some examples of creative thinking activities that will really get your students’ minds working:
Complete the incomplete figure
For this activity, you simply draw a figure on a sheet of paper (it could be anything from a line to a triangle to a swirl or anything in between) and ask your students to complete the figure - turning it into whatever their imagination desires.
Complete the picture
This is similar to the above example, but it’s a bit different. Instead of starting with an incomplete figure, you start with a phrase like ‘happy as a clam’ or ‘here comes trouble’ (or whatever you like - utilize your own creativity here)! From there, students will draw a picture that they think completes the caption.
Look away from the creation
This is one of our favorite examples of creativity in the classroom, and it’s so easy to do. It’s all about drawing what you really see instead of what you think you can see. Instead of looking at the page while you draw, hold up your hand and only look at that. But don’t draw your hand for what it is - instead draw the creases, folds, and marks of your hand - and don’t pick up the pencil for the entire five minutes that you’re drawing! This is one of the great creativity examples for students that gets them to open up, get silly, and feel free.
We can’t emphasize the importance of fostering creativity enough. Creative thinking is essential for a student’s growth, and it’s also essential for the way that they’ll live the rest of their life throughout their educational career and onward from there.
The importance of creativity and innovation in education is something that has come to light more than ever in recent years. Society has slowly grown away from placing focus on rote memorization and testing well - because, while those skills still have their place, the world is changing and so is the job market.
As we’ve said, creativity is the basis of innovation. And without creativity, there would be no new inventions, no new thought processes, and no new precedents to be set. Creativity is how we continue to move forward as a society, and learn new things about the world and about each other as humans.
Creativity helps students to flourish and get to know themselves as learners and as people who are finding their footing. As they hone their creative skills, they’re also becoming more sure of themselves and finding what it means to be uniquely who they are.
Being a creative learner turns a student into a confident person with good self-esteem, who can then pass that creativity onto future learners - and the cycle will always loop, as emphasis continues to be placed on creativity in the classroom.