Teaching creativity: ‘You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things’

“Creativity” is a word too often thrown around when a student displays a unique approach to a given task.

“Your work shows a very creative side of you,” or “you have a creative way of thinking” are often heard from educators, students, and parents. But what does it mean to be creative? And how do we provide students the opportunity to create?

Instilling a love for learning and exploration is the goal for every teacher and the hope for every parent as we support these 21st-century learners to pursue change in our world. Albert Einstein once described learning as, “the enjoyment of seeing and searching,” emphasizing the importance of nurturing an inquisitive mind for exploration. When a child possesses creativity, we must do what we can to keep it alive. But how do we enable our students today with the opportunities to be creative?

We can do so in many ways:

  • Foster interest and passion: Providing students with the opportunity to choose amongst an array of choices enables them to pursue an interest, or passion, that will lend itself to individual motivation and creativity.
  • Build stamina: Interests worth doing take hard work, time, and patience—regardless of the weight today’s society places on ease and immediacy. Creative environments generally lack structure. Helping students build stamina and develop the self-discipline to complete a task without a deadline will allow them to flourish in creative settings.
  • Inspire confidence to risk failure: The greatest learning takes place when students feel they can take risks, even if, and especially if, failing is a possibility. Children struggle with perfection as a consistent stressor in their world. When parents and educators praise perfection and achievement, they downplay the voyage that got students there. Most likely, that level of perfection had stumbling blocks along the way.
  • Know what to avoid: A creative child is motivated intrinsically. Extrinsic motivation, evaluations/rewards, surveillance, restricted choices, and competition are simply not necessary to enhance creativity—it actually kills it.

Much is asked of our students today as we expect them to be competent in a number of areas: academic, social, musical, physical, and spiritual.  As we hurry our students to be exceptional and think outside the box, we should ask ourselves: What are we doing to provide students with an environment that nurtures genuine creativity?

When asked to perform a creative writing assignment, my students begin by brainstorming ideas, plan their approach, and then put their ideas to paper. Under these circumstances, their creative spirit emerges.

As much as teachers may want to hover and provide direct advice to each student, they should sit back and enable their students to bring their ideas to life. Although the students may ask for a bit of help, teachers should make a point of guiding without taking over and being flexible, allowing a student’s creativity to take the lead. This backseat role produces two benefits: Students exhibit their unique, creative gifts, and the teacher’s silence provides room for an internal confidence to develop—something students thirst for.

Ray Bradbury perhaps stated it best when he wrote, “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”

Carey Halula is a humanities teacher at Concordia International School Shanghai. Join us on Facebook too.

– See more at: http://www.datsyn.com/press-release/18049/2016/12/25/Teaching-creativity-You-cant-try-to-do-things-You-simply-must-do-things#sthash.X7PkdPSC.dpuf

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