Have you ever used the term “creative” to describe a student who perhaps did not conform to the “typical student” mold, for lack of a better word to describe him? In doing so, did you mean it as a compliment? You should have, because now more than ever, we need to embrace creativity in our schools and ensure our students are creators.
In my last post I shared Bloom’s revised taxonomy, which places “Create” at the top of the pyramid. Take a look at the comparison of original Bloom’s vs. Revised to see how it has evolved:
From nouns to verbs; from passive to active; from knowing to DOING. This may seem insignificant for the casual observer, but to educators, we understand that doing is learning.
The things we have to learn before we do them, we learn by doing them. – Aristotle
When we deem a child “creative,” we recognize that he is capable of the highest level of thinking! In my elementary school years, we knew who our creative peers were – they were the peers who excelled in art, drama, and storytelling/writing. I believe this was true of many of the classes of students and parents in the 80s-90s. A child gifted in the arts was considered to be creative. But why limit the element of creativity to the arts alone? Can it not, and should it not, be infused into all disciplines?
The answer is yes, of course!
Doug Johnson addressed this topic on his Blue Skunk Blog in the post Not If, But How, A Person is Creative. This truly struck a cord with me, due to recent events at my school. As an administrator I feel it is one of my duties to help educate parents about changing pedagogy and best practices. As educators, we no longer find acceptable rows of students sitting and listening passively to a sage on the stage teacher. I believe there are some parents who still feel that this is the preferred means of instructional delivery. This is natural, of course, because it is how they learned in school. The potential distractibility factor of a busy, active classroom seems to outweigh the benefits of collaborative, creative work in their minds. I’m concerned that parents (and some teachers, quite frankly) don’t grasp the vital importance of the quality of creativity. I’ll be addressing this topic in my next monthly bulletin. As Johnson says, we should be striving to discover how each and every one of our students is creative!
If our students can’t create – what will they do? Readers of Dan Pink know his feelings on the matter. He defined 6 fundamental aptitudes we should encourage and help develop in our students so they can survive in our ever-changing, global world: Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning. We certainly have opportunities to do so in our classrooms. What could our students do? Construct! Program! Blog! Experiment! Publish! Animate! Invent! Produce! Dramatize! Direct! Critique! CREATE!
Take a look at Bloom’s in relation to Pink’s ideas. The lower level thinking skills can be automated by computers, thus rendering human involvement in these tasks nearly non-existent. Why would we want to prepare our children for jobs that will become obsolete? We can’t predict exactly which professions will be obsolete in 5, 10, 15 years from now, but I think many of us can envision what the world will be like. We know how fast technology is changing our everyday lives. We know children need to learn to work collaboratively and communicate with peers and adults. We know the involvement of outsourcing and abundance of products on our Earth. We need creative workers who can make original, ingenious products to help make our lives more interesting, easier, and more rewarding.
We need creative problem solvers, cooperative team members, visionaries, and kids that can take the contents of a trashcan and create a solar collector. We need to embrace all forms of creativity in our students. Our teachers must PLAN to incorporate the highest levels of Bloom’s in their lessons and classroom experiences. Not a few, but ALL must be provided with the opportunity to create.