School years are some of the most crucial and formative years of a person’s life. It is at school where children learn all the skills that will set them up for the rest of their lives. It is, therefore, essential that teachers and educators get it right.
Whilst lesson plans need to incorporate all the subject content within the curriculum, an equally valuable skill that students need to learn young is creativity. Creative thinking is a skill that teachers can introduce to students and nurture within them from a young age. It is also a skill that will enable them to develop other essential skills, which will serve them well in adulthood.
Classroom management can be difficult when skills such as critical thinking and logical problem solving are considered more important than creativity in the classroom. However, this does not have to be the case. In reality, these skills all work together to create academically and emotionally intelligent students.
To acquaint you with the many ways in which you can incorporate creativity in learning, whilst still hitting all your curriculum goals, we have created this expert guide to teach students how to prioritize creativity alongside academics.
What is creativity?
Creativity, in its rawest form, is the freedom to express yourself. Many people overlook the importance of the individual in creativity, when actuality, it is completely centered around the mind of one person. Everyone has a creative spirit within them in one form or another, and the way in which this creativity manifests depends on the person. It is therefore difficult to provide an umbrella term for creativity.
Nevertheless, there are some underlying features of creativity that are universal and easy to identify. For example, creative people come up with innovative ideas because they use their personal experience and outlook to look at situations in different ways that others might not have thought of, further highlighting the centrality of the individual.
Another key component of creativity is flexibility. People who are too rigid in their ways of thinking find it difficult to tap into their creative self because they do not allow themselves the flexibility needed to be creative. Creativity is all about innovation and finding new ways to solve problems, so continuing to approach a problem from the same angle as before will stunt your creative mind. You need to be open to new possibilities if you want to find creative solutions.
Ultimately, creativity is a need to transcend the ordinary with the backing of your own personal ideas, personality and thoughts. The ordinary can only get you so far, and after that, you are on your own. Little in life is handed to you, so you need to figure things out independently, and creative thinking will allow you to do that in a way that works for you. It is therefore important to understand the creative process and develop creative skills as early as possible in order to equip students with the resources needed to succeed in life.
Why is creativity in the classroom important?
Creativity in the classroom is important, whether that be in a physical classroom, or as we have seen become more normal over the past couple of years, a virtual classroom. This is because the classroom is the place where students develop the skills that are going to be with them for the rest of their lives, and creativity is one that is essential. The classroom environment is perfect for laying the foundations of creativity thanks to the impressionable minds of young students who are eager to learn.
Creativity in the classroom can come in many different forms. Whilst it can make an appearance in the conventional form as art, music and drama classes, it can also come in less conventional forms. Creative problem solving, for example, can be explored in maths and science. When observing the numerous ways in which creative activities can manifest within the classroom, it becomes evident just how important it is for educators to encourage students to tap into their creative side.
Creativity in school is extremely important because it helps students develop other skills. While it is not a stand-alone skill, it is one that crosses over with other integral skills. Creativity encourages the development of other higher cognitive skills, such as problem solving, innovative thinking, creating links, and divergent thinking, to name just a few.
5 ideas to encourage creativity in students
The importance of integrating student creativity into the education process is evident, but how exactly do teachers and educators go about doing that? Fortunately, most schools are in an era where they now understand the necessity of creativity, meaning it is easier than ever to teach students about creativity and creative ideas. In order to help you bring creativity to the forefront of your students’ minds, we have created this list to provide you with some inspiration.
1. Design a creative space
If you want your students to be creative, you need to lead by example, and the best way to do this is to create a classroom that promotes creativity. No one is interested in a dull, gray classroom with nothing on the walls, because it is uninspiring. You need to do everything you can to create an interesting and inspiring space for your students to come and learn every day.
The way you design your classroom is up to you, but to promote creativity, we recommend having bright colors around the room and lots of display boards that will spark your students’ imaginations. Think animal themes, astrology themes, cartoons, or even all of the above. Having busy walls will give your students a demonstration of creativity.
You could even have your students design your classroom. Getting them involved in the process will not only engage their creative minds at the beginning of the year, but will also be a constant reminder of what you can achieve when creativity is engaged.
2. Be more hands on
Encouraging your students to be hands-on with their learning is a guaranteed way to increase their interest and engagement in what they are learning. It will also help them to develop more creative and innovative solutions and ideas. The kind of teaching where a teacher is standing at the front and all the students in the class are expected to just sit, listen, and take notes is simply not effective in this day and age. Today, children understand the inherent creativity within them and expect to exercise it in school.
Therefore, teachers should run programs and classes where students learn in a hands-on type of way. This means that if they are learning basic maths, give them something physical to work with instead of making them perform calculations in their heads. Aids like building blocks to help them visualize sums can help stimulate their creativity and get them more engaged.
If you are teaching them about Newton’s first law, take them outside and kick a ball to demonstrate the law of motion. When students see what they are learning, they have a visual reference, as a result of which the lesson becomes easier to understand. In turn, creative teaching encourages creative learning.
3. Virtual experience
Whilst the classroom experience is going to be your main site for creative teaching, it can get a bit old and repetitive. This can cause students to lose interest. The best way to mix things up and create a different dynamic is through digital experiences. Whilst digital classrooms and online learning took hold in the pandemic, Kronos Experience has always understood the crucial role that virtual experiences can play in promoting student engagement.
The aim of our youth virtual experience is to teach young people about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, which we do in a way that promotes innovation and creativity amongst students. Our experience comes in three distinct parts. First, there is the build-up, where we direct teachers in leading various activities which will inform the live show that we put on. We ask that teachers send in footage and details of these initial workshops, to help us create a customized show.
The main event is in the form of a live TV show where the work that students have put in is broadcast from the year 2141 by a fun and energetic host. This is always a hit with the students who can see first-hand the benefits and outcomes of their creativity. Once the main event is over, we provide you with a souvenir video detailing and recounting everything that your students have done over the past couple of weeks to reach the final show. It is the ultimate exercise in creativity in which a physical memento of their success can be seen, encouraging future creative thinking.
4. Reward creativity
It is no secret that children respond well to positive reinforcement and words of praise, so it is extremely important to show recognition of creativity by rewarding it. Rewards do not have to be big or extravagant. Something as small as congratulating a student for demonstrating innovative problem solving skills is enough.
If you want to take it a step further than simply complimenting a student on doing something well, you can create charts that recognize the success of student creativity. For example, naming a star of the week and letting them choose a small toy or sweet is the perfect way to reward creativity without going too far. Without praise and reward, students lack the motivation to achieve anything, so it is essential that you prioritize praising students when they do well.
5. Allow failure
Failure is inevitable. You cannot learn without failing. It is, therefore, important to incorporate this life lesson into your teaching. Creativity does not come naturally to everyone, so some students might find it more difficult to tap into their creative brain, which can be frustrating for them. It is your job as a teacher not to berate their inability to be creative, but allow failure.
Allowing failure in a classroom allows you to create a safe, open, and healthy space where everyone feels comfortable. The classroom should be a place where learning is prioritized and failure is an inherent part of learning. If you want students to feel comfortable testing out solutions and problem-solving skills, you need to ensure that they are comfortable failing because, without that comfort, they will refuse to take the risks needed to be creative.