Are these two concepts mutually exclusive? While we’d like to think they’re not, the tyranny of content often means that we do not undertake projects that involve “deep”, connected and creative learning because we have “too much stuff to get through.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I compare my two history classes and the different types of learning in each. One is very open ended, requiring that we study units on “Constructing History”, “Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Societies” and a “Thematic Study”. The Mandatory History curriculum is far more prescriptive and is very content driven. We are currently studying Australian Federation, a notoriously “boring” topic in the eyes of students. Australia’s Federation is a remarkable event historically because it is of the few instances when national independence from a colonial power was achieved without bloodshed. The reason this is often viewed as boring for students is because we whip through a whole raft of “old bearded guys”, dates and constitutional and legal concepts. There are fascinating personalities and cultural issues that would be terrific to explore but doing this in any depth is undermined by the time constraints of the syllabus, which dictates that we “get through” Federation, World War I, the Depression and World War II” in Year 9. The learning enabled in the more open-ended course is, in constrast, more authentic because it is driven by student interest and choice. As Einstein famously said: “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.” I have tried to create opportunities for students to be involved in the planning process and to choose areas that they want to research and learn about. Rather than having every student learn about Ancient Greece, students are able to choose an area that interests them and to take more ownership of their learning. This has also meant that I can focus more on helping students learn how the processes of research and communication skills to share their findings with their peers. It also means that students get to learn from each other as rather than all doing the same content, they are exploring different areas that broaden everyone’s understanding of a broad range of past societies, individuals, events and ideas. The engagement in this class is palpably higher than in the one where content is king and leads to a regurgitation of facts rather than the interpretation of facts for meaning and relevance.
- World is getting less and less creative on average. Education today is structured so that it destroys creativity and crushes dreams.
- In China, Mexico, Japan and US it is normal for creativity scores to decline throughout a child’s education.
- We teach kids what to learn.. not how to learn. We teach curriculum rather than how to learn.
- Scientific Journal feels that brilliance can be unleashed through nurturing creative thinking in children.
- Intellectual capital is fueled by creativity. There is a new creative age dawning and we must address it. 60% of all jobs and professions within the next 10 years will be based on creative thinking.
- Child are born with intellectual potential- brain is soil with endless seeds. When child is stimulated creatively then brain cells engage and grow. When they are not stimulated cells disengage. Nurturing creativity allows synapse to form more connections. When we routinize, when we linearize, when we dull a child we actually physically disengage their brains.
- It is not one or the other:curriculum or creativity. Creativity is the thread that should be woven in each area of the curriculum.
Sheryl argues that: “Back to basics is returning to way we all learn naturally through wonderment, questions, and explorations – not through memorization and regurgitation of facts.”
This “creativity crisis” is also explored by Ken Robinson in the TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” [below], who explores how we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. “Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences.”
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Another excellent post on this is, “How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci” at Wandering Ink, which details 10 aspects of creative thinking and then goes on to explain how our society quashes them. They include:
1. Intense and insatiable curiosity; constantly learning due to a desire to ask and answer questions
2. Constant testing of knowledge through experience and persistence; accepting of and learning from mistakes
3. Fully noticing and observing things with all senses, but especially sight (seeing things that others miss, seeing the details)
4. An acceptance of ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty out of a realization that life is not black and white (also an art technique using shadow famous for its use in da Vinci’s paintings)
5. Interest in both the arts and sciences and interdisciplinary work that combines them
6. Keeping one’s body in good shape; attending to nutrition, fitness, and general physical well-being
7. Acceptance and appreciation for the interconnectedness of everything in life; interdisciplinary approaches and thinking
8. Energy and desire to focus intensely on one’s work and interests (often the same thing); merging of work and play
9. Confidence, willingness to take risks, and tolerance of failure – Willing to continue on with creative work despite rejection; ability to sell oneself and one’s talents
10. Independence, introversion (from various studies on creative genius) – Willingness to spend lots of time alone working and honing skills; acceptance of possible isolation