How creative are you? Before answering this question in the traditional sense of art, music or writing ability, consider your courage, tenacity and flexibility. Perhaps I should explain a little further.
As a secondary school English teacher, I believe nurturing creativity is extremely important. Creativity supports innovation and innovation strengthens problem solving. Students who are willing to adopt a creative approach to learning, learn more effectively.
Because they possess the courage, tenacity and flexibility to actively question ideas and emotions. This is a proactive approach to learning that requires students to process information. They actually sort, manage, evaluate and file ideas, rather than simply storing them.
Although some people view creativity as a specialist gift, others (myself included) believe creativity is latent force that simply requires awakening. In other words everyone has the ability to be creative – some just need a little more help to access it. Some students may lack the courage to act upon their creative impulses, however this doesn’t mean they lack creativity. Generally it means they don’t feel comfortable in a particular situation or they have become so comfortable, they resist the urge to change. Therefore, we can help students develop their creativity by offering an environment which is simultaneously supporting and challenging.
I like to use an abseiling analogy when describing this to my classes. Even though abseiling is a dangerous activity, the risks can be managed using a secure harness, strong ropes, a buddy to belay and an active awareness of the situation. If we bring this analogy into the classroom, creativity is developed when teachers become the support harness, fellow students act as belay (i.e. through collaborative learning opportunities) and individuals accept responsibility for their actions. Within this supportive environment anyone can discover their creative centre. Just as the exhilaration of overcoming ‘edge of the cliff’ fear is awe inspiring, so to is the realisation that creatively solving a problem may simply require looking at a situation from a different perspective.
However, as the abseiling analogy shows, recognising innate creativity requires courage. Students need to feel secure within their ‘harness’, confident of their ‘belay’ and comfortable in their environment. More specifically, students need to feel understood by their teacher, trust in their classmates and skilled enough to meet upcoming challenges. The classroom environment should be a place where experimentation is welcomed and failure recognised as a natural consequence of discovery. Students should be encouraged to believe, even though they may ‘slip’ sometimes (when they fumble or the rope slides to fast), it is all a part of the adventure and, it is an opportunity to learn. In other words, when mistakes are made students need to feel supported, safe and that they can still reach their destination.
I believe, a student who has accessed their innate creativity has the courage, tenacity and flexibility to recognise failure is not an end point, rather it is a directional clue or a hint to adopt a different approach.
So, how creative are you?
Next week I’ll offer a few clues for boosting your creativity.
Welcome to a World of Expression
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