Empowering Youth - Yes, Creative Thinking Can Be Taught
Jun 20, 2010 Teaching Methodology 2940 Views
Thanks to a lot of research, it has been found that creative thinking can be taught and learned. So as teachers, we should be encouraging and developing creativity, but this is often not the case. Unfortunately, many educational systems actually suppress creativity and instead push for intellectual conformity. One clear example of this is requiring children to color inside the lines or to use colors that are "correct". Really, who says a tree can't be purple!
You can use the following strategies to cultivate creativity in you, your students and your colleagues.
Be a model.
Modeling is the most powerful way to develop your students' creative mind. Serving as a role model for creativity is essential if you expect students and colleagues to engage in creative behavior. It is not enough to tell them what and why; you need to show them how. So consider carefully your values, goals, and ideas about creativity. It may take a little extra thought to model creative thinking, but you do not have to be a creative genius to do it. When teaching for creativity, the first rule is to remember that students follow what you do, much much more than what you say. You can't simply talk about creativity and expect results; you also have to walk the creative walk.
Idea: You could come up with an out-of-the-box field trip- or better yet; encourage your students to think of one.
Build them strong.
The main limitation on what students CAN do is what they think they CAN'T DO. Sometimes you unintentionally incarcerate what your students can do by sending messages that imply limits on their potential. Instead, use words and actions to let your students know they possess the ability to meet life's challenges. Give them the tools to build a strong creative foundation. It will be their job to decide how they will meet the challenge.
Idea: Let your students create their very own affirmation book. Each week have one student find a positive quote to share with the class and have everyone write the quote in their book. You throw in about 10-12 of your favorites so they have one for every week of the year. Encourage them to read something from their book everyday for the rest of their life. (note: add the small notebook to the student supply list)
Let them choose.
You can't always offer your students a choice. Let's face it; life is not a multiple choice test. But do not automatically limit their options. Presenting choices is the best way to teach them how to make decisions. Give your students some leeway to come up with ideas. This will help them develop strong thinking skills and lay the foundation for creativity.
Idea: Develop a list of creative things and tell your students they must include at least 5 (you pick the number) of the items in their class project. (example: a feather, a magnet, a shoe string, a button, something from nature, a bottle cap, a child's toy... pretty much anything is fair game for the list, so have fun)
Free space for ideas.
Advocate an environment free of criticisms for your students' ideas. Encourage them to generate as many ideas as they can, even if they are silly, unrelated or uncreative. Let your class identify the most unique ideas and use this as your opportunity to guide new approaches to thinking about the same concept.
Idea: Every Monday challenge your students to find the most unusual word, idea or concept that relates to that week's lesson and have them submit it on Friday for a class vote. Yes, the winner should receive a prize but I'll leave that to your imagination. Just remember, young people are a lot easier to please than you may think.
Help students stimulate creativity by thinking across subjects. The trend these days is to have teaching teams so learning can be interdisciplinary. Take time to coordinate and plan, with the other teachers, ways to challenge the students to connect the different contexts.
Idea: Have your students come up with a project that incorporates something they learned from each of their core classes. This will strengthen their creativity as well as showcase their knowledge.