Hello PBL friends,

I'm high off a service-learning conference last week!

Here's a nice definition of creativity from Ken Robinson's plenary talk at the National Youth Leadership Conference: "Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value." I wrote more in a blog.

21st Century skills strongly emphasize creativity for our future workforce and economy but more urgently to me, is the need to draw out the lovely talents and enthusiasm of my students and my son who said when he was about 4 in his first month of kindergarten "Heaven is having a re-model. I'm not going to be able to get back there for a long time now." followed in 4th grade by standing up in class and saying he was so bored he was going to kill himself. (Lots of parent-teacher conferences after that, etc. He's a bored junior now but not dead :-))  So this is a deeply personal as well as a professional interest.

Some questions I have: How do we revive the natural creativity kids come in with? How do we increase student choice (and manage it)? How do we improve brainstorming sessions? How do we make creativity fun rather than threatening to colleagues and students too?

I'm so interested in your ideas and gathering our collective wisdom on this...


Tags: 21st, Century, based, brainstorming, creativity, learning, pbl, project, service, skills

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Replies to This Discussion

I think giving control to students would help in giving them a bit more freedom to do and more importantly think. I'm only a first year but from what I have seen children are terrified of failing and being wrong. So they stifle their thoughts and sit and wait for somebody to tell them what to do. Giving students more control will give them a stake in their own education which will convince them that getting creative with their education is the right thing to do. Hopefully, this will stop them from using their creative abilities to get out of "doing school."
Sue thanks for starting this conversation! My son had similar feelings about his education. It wasn't until college where he could pursue a line of study he cared deeply about that his interest in learning was reignited. Too bad, but luckily not too late!
To one of your questions (I'll come back to the others): How do we revive natural curiosity? In a perfect world we wouldn't have to reignite curiosity, we'd just make sure to keep fueling the flame. But in the current environment, where kids get indoctrinated early to a passive/receptive mode of learning, we need to do things differently and deliberately. One key would be to revive our own curiosity and put it on display. Freewheeling, curious, out-loud, no-holds-barred wondering is infectious. Modeling and encouraging curiosity is key to a wonder-ful learning environment.
Yes, Richard - agree about giving kids more choice and control. We tend to be most creative in areas we care about and that suit our personal talents. As to the terror of failing, they need more TIME for them to try stuff, fail and be encouraged to try again. With fear of failing and falling behind, how can they take risks that is central to true creativity. And that means depth over breadth.

So hope my son has similar college experience to yours, Jane. I love the idea of modeling creativity and curiosity. I need to build more of that into next year's curriculum. As you know, am researching a book "Keeping Kids Curious - why it matters and what parents, schools and the organizations that employ them can do."

Central to curiosity is a sense of playfulness and fun, along with serious purpose - necessity being the mother of invention... Interested to know how people in our online community balance those. What techniques and structures do you use to encourage creativity in your students? And in yourself? Please share more!
By the way, a couple of really cool articles appearing in this week's Newsweek on creativity - see my blog

Some surprises around HOW to foster creativity...

Thanks for this! People are taking play seriously in NYC. Check out this New Yorker article and associated podcast with the reporter (I think the podcast is better). I'm really interested in the role of play in developing both curiosity and self-management/executive functions.
Last summer I attended MEMTA, Michelson Exxon Mobile Teacher's Academy for science and math. It was AWESOME. We spent everyday learning in ways we should be teaching our students. You may have heard of lesson structuring using the 5 E's - engagement, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. The engagement phase is so much fun and really gets the kids thinking. I also liked how it was so hands-on and pushed the kids to think deeper about the concept. At the end of five lessons (or so) we had an Iron Scientist (like Iron Chef) where the students are given all the components of our experiments and challenged to come up with their own extension or inquiry. Talk about engaging! As a science teacher, this really moved me to the next level and I had a great year getting students excited about science. I hope to continue improving. Here's a website that explains the 5 e's if you want to know more. http://enhancinged.wgbh.org/research/eeeee.html The best thing is to get the experience I had learning that way. Let me know what you think after you read it or if you any thoughts or questions.



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