Are You Unintentionally Stifling Creativity in the Classroom?

By guest blogger Robyn Shulman of Ed News Daily Considering our schools are still run on an industrial type of model, it is no surprise that there is little room or time for creativity. From standardized tests to curriculum that comes […]

By guest blogger Robyn Shulman of Ed News Daily

Considering our schools are still run on an industrial type of model, it is no surprise that there is little room or time for creativity. From standardized tests to curriculum that comes delivered in a one size fits all box, we have a generation of kids who are at a loss for the use of imagination, creation, discovery, and natural born ideas. No, teachers are not doing a poor job; this is simply the framework of the historical education processes and procedures continuing into the 21st century.

Many life changing ideas and success stories begin in someone’s basement or garage. When we let kids discover their own natural paths of interest, use their imaginations, and free them from a world filled with rote memorization and testing, we can see who they truly are, what they are capable of, and watch them turn a small idea into something magical.

I have seen this spark come and go within my own home and while I was teaching. Eyes shining with excitement, rosy cheeks and the overwhelming need and feeling to begin working on a new project immediately. A passion so great does not come along very often, and as a mother and teacher I always embrace it, and feel just as excited as my students.

I have provided guidance to many students during great ideas of development, and I stress to say the word guidance, as this is appropriate action, rather than interference.

For example, a few years ago when I was in the classroom, a very excited group of students decided to work on a charity project selling homemade items. Each student had a position within the “business,” and they all understood their roles.

I encouraged everyone who participated in this special project to be able to define their roles and respect the work of each other.

One of the students in my class was given the responsibility to launch a small website. I spent a great amount of time with her going over the requirements for developing and launching a site.

She wrote, researched, and came up with a design. She ran up to my desk for every new sentence and every picture she found. She wrote about her ‘job’ in her journal. She talked about the project with her family on a daily basis. She called her friends, out of town relatives, and told them about her exciting journey. She was so proud of herself, and I was proud of her too.

A few weeks into the project, she came to school very upset. She said she received a call that someone else created the website, someone older who was not participating in project. The person who created the site was not a friend, an older sister or brother, but rather, a parent. A parent decided to create the site and her job no longer existed, unemployed at 10 years old.

While I do believe there were no ill intentions, the excitement and passion that was so strong, so visible, quickly drained out of her eyes. Her moment to create something she loved was gone.

We discussed the situation thoroughly and I decided to give her a new job. She was quickly put back on the payroll.

What is the moral of this story? As parents and/or teachers, it is our job to encourage creativity and teach our children to embrace it. It is our job to lead and guide by example, share bright eyes and passion for these moments that don’t come along often.

It is not our job to take over or interrupt the natural process and love of learning, doing so, decimates the innate connections and bonds that are being formed by children. Interfering to such a high degree takes so much away from every holistic aspect of a child’s need and right to create. 

As adults, we quickly forget the potential and remarkable miracles our children create. We cannot steal this opportunity for creativity, as it leads not only to our children’s loss, but to our future losses as well.

Posted by Hannah Hudson

Hannah Hudson is the editorial director of WeAreTeachers. You can follow her on Twitter at @hannahthudson or on Facebook here. Email her at hannah@weareteachers.com.

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