Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Creativity and Curiosity: My Thoughts - Special Post #12A.
1. Do schools in the United States systematically destroy (or inhibit) the development of curiosity and/or creativity in students? If yes, why does that happen? If no, how do you counter the argument of Sir Ken Robinson that schools do undermine the development of creativity in students?
We live in "the age of technology" and believe it or not, technology is NEVER going away. In most places in the world, technology is now a necessity of life, not survival, but life and the most important place technology needs to be incorporated into is the school system. Why? Because there is a movement going on right now to get out with the old and in with the new, quite literally speaking. We're at the point where students (or anybody for that matter) can get answers to almost any question they have via internet. The old fashioned way of teaching is boring. Students come to class every day, listen to boring lectures and write down notes all day in each class and go home to what ever they do at home. While the new way of teaching is far more interactive, way more fun, and actually teaches skills students need to succeed in the real world. It provides oportunities for students to learn life tools and characteristics to succeed.
Well, this is a tricky question to answer because I believe that the answer(s) can be influenced by several factors. The most important variable that needs to be considered is the school somebody went to, the mission statement of that school and if the school actually achieved their mission statement. The next factor is the student. Did the student care about what was being taught in school, his education? Did the student use creative techniques to get answers to his questions? Another factor that needs to be accounted for is the fact the questions themselves. "Do schools in the United States systematically destroy (or inhibit) the development of curiosity and/or creativity in students?" What schools are being talked about? Public schools? Private schools? Charter schools? All schools? Or just some schools? But enough beating around the bush. I honestly think that some school systems do, in fact, "systematically destroy (or inhibit) the development of curiosity and creativity in students" simply because of the way they are set up.
Over the last few months, I have read a lot of articles, observed a lot of videos, and my mind has been transformed by what I am going to call the School Tech Movement. To make a quick summary of this movement, it's transforming education system from the way it is now to technologically integrated. Sure, some schools have smart boards, and some schools have large magnificent computer labs and there are "Smart Schools" in America, the middle school I went to was a "Smart School" at the time. A lot of what goes on in today's learning environment for most kids is outdated and boring. Granted not all communities will have the money or gumption to dig into this concept and new practice, but others will. It all starts with the teachers. As my friend Keeley Bryan sais in his Blog Post #10 "Teaching puts too much responsibility on the educator and not enough on the student. Education puts all emphasis on the student’s comprehension. ...Educators must understand that the mind of a student is not an empty bucket to pour information into, but rather the mind of a student is a consuming fire that is hungry for all sorts of information. Educators MUST learn that it is not their job to cram information into a child, but to encourage the child to ENJOY learning within the bounds of the curriculum that is assigned." I HIGHLY encourage you to read this entire blog post. He explains it much much better than I could. Back to the main question: Why does the school system destroy/inhibit the ability of students to be creative and curious? The answer is simple: because of the way it is built and the way teachers are teaching and not "educating" and finally because of the curriculum teachers are following. PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO, IT WILL HELP EXPLAIN MY STATEMENTS, ENJOY!
Here is a link to a page I found that helps explain what a "Curricula" is. Imagine if we could change/modify this to what it should be now, with EDUCATORS in charge instead of the old fashioned teachers!
2. Can a curriculum be developed that increases the curiosity of students? If so, what would be the key components of such a curriculum?
I mentioned "curriculum" in the answer to the previous question, coincidence? I think not! I have been surfing the web and doing some researh to help me develope my opinion for this answer. I have came to the conclusion that a lot of teachers are still thinking the same way for too long. Most teachers automatically think "that a well-defined curriculum determines what is taught (and learned) in a school." They automatically assume that what the information they go over in class is magically absorbed into their students brains because they have gone over it. That is so wrong to do. By definition, a curriculum is a complete outline of all the courses an institution has to offer. However, a syllabus is an outline of the material that is supposed to be discussed in class to some extent. Do I think a curriculum can be developed that will increase the curiosity of students....yes, but to a small extent. Of course the class curriculum will have to be put together properly and must be very flexible. Most of the "ignition" will have to come from the educator and how the information is presented, as well as how collaborative the class environment itself is.
3. Can a curriculum be developed that increases the creativity of students? If so, what would be the key components of such a curriculum?
Yes, the assignments and projects delegated to the students have to be the right ones. In Mr. McClung's blog post "What I Learned This Year" Mr. McClung takes time to reflect about what he has learned. He explains 7 key rules to follow:
"1.)How to Read the Crowd: Deliver your lesson plan to your students and for your students, not for you or your supervisor.
2.)Be Flexible: instructors like to plan "perfect" lessons, you have to keep in mind that each and every students in your classroom come into your classroom with their own agendas and problems from different things. No lesson plan is ever perfect, the lesson plan you teach and the one you plan are always different.
3.)Communicate:Communicating is the best way to resolve any issue in the workplace. In addition, communication is the pathway to building that much desired rapport with fellow teachers.
4.)Be Reasonable: As teachers we hold very high expectations for our students....sometimes they live up to those expectations, and sometimes they don't. Often we build our expectations too high for students, and become upset when they do not meet the expectation. DON'T. Teachers can sometimes really loose touch and forget that we are dealing with children. They are not perfect and neither are we. While its fine to have lofty goals for our students, we set our students up for disappointment when a goal is not met and we scold them for not coming through. Our job as teachers is to simply pick them up after they fail, dust them off, and encourage them to try again.
5.)Don't Be Afraid of Technology: Grown adults everywhere are afraid of computers like it's a bad horror film and computers are trying to take over the world. Technology is our friend and is essential to living in our microwave society of today. We should not become overwhelmed by technology and simply give up before we start. Here's a video that provides significant use of technology in the education environment.
6.)Listen to Your Students: You may be the only person that does. Communication skills are often hard to develop and this is one way to build a relationship with your students.
7.)Never Stop Learning: It's never too late to change your way of thinking, learning, or style. We do everything short of beg students to learn on a daily basis, but sadly some of us refuse to learn and grow as professional educators. We work in a learning environment, so why not soak up as much as you can? We owe it to our students."
4. Can a teacher's actions increase the curiosity of students? If so, what would be those actions?
YES! YES! YES! YES! and YES! It's all in the pitch/delivery. If you give all the information to the students all of the time then odds are that they'll never learn how to think critically and figure things out! By building relationships with the students, you get to know the students on a more personal level and then will be able to create lesson plans for students on a more individual/specific level than on an entire class level. 1 on 1 is often the best way to go. I know from previous experience that when teachers put tests, questions, assignments, projects into forms that interest me I am already more motivated to do the project just because the project interests me. Cliff hangers are good as well, they can spark curiosity as well. There are a lot of techniques teachers can apply in there classroom to make learning more creative and fun. Mix things up, provide extra credit opportunities, outside assignments, things like that to challenge them to think about a certain idea in enough depth they'll want to research the topic on their own.
5. Can a teacher's actions increase the creativity of students? If so, what would be those actions?
Maybe? If a teacher is creative than the students are creative. Goes back to the psychological principle of "Monkey see, monkey do." Body language, and of course, the delivery of the lesson plan to the students. How it is created, what the assignments are and how they are discussed in class. The resources available for the students. Success comes from experience and experience comes from failure, failure comes from attempting, attempting comes from curiosity. So where does curiosity come from? Curiosity is the recognition and pursuit of new experiences and information. Without curiosity, personal growth comes to a standstill. Curiosity fuels creativity.
6. What would help you become more creative? What role would teachers and/or schools have in that process?
Curiosity and research would help me become more creative. Thinking outside of the box. I am already a very spontaneous person, so being creative is definitely not a challenge for me. It's not about what you do, but it's about how you do it, and I like to mix things up. Of course, I think about things and hit "brick walls" and can't think of any other ways to do things, but then that's when I seek information from outside resources such as other people in the same field, internet sources, books, YouTube Videos, things like that. Sometime, I might just ask a question (only slightly related to the problem at hand) and ask him to expand on how he would go about doing something. other times, i'll get right to the point.
7. What would help you become more curious? What role would teachers and/or schools have in that process?
Mixing things up? Change of plans? I honestly don't know how to control ones curiosity. Perhaps I should watch Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? video again. it just dawned on me that curiosity and creativity can go hand in hand. Albert Einstein once said "imagination is more important than knowledge." Which is true, without imagination, what would the world be today? Without Curiosity, what would the world be today?
Curiosity can be attained by asking questions without well known answers. Everybody saw the apple fall from the tree, but Newton asked why.
The quotation that serves as a picture was taken from Curiosity Fuels Creativity: Teaching your kids to be curious by Elli.
Who is Elli? How can you contact her? Will you do so? Why or why not?
Elli is a writer for InGoodMeasure.Net. She was born and raised in Colorado and now enjoys skiing, playing tennis, and hiking in the mountains of Salt Lake City, Utah. She was the curios kid in school, the annoying one that asked all the questions. She reminds me a little bit of Albert Einstein in her theory of a curios person is more suited for success than somebody that doesn't ask as many question. Reason being: curios people are more engaged in their work and are motivated to learn as much about the information they are researching as possible. I know this is true because I can attest to it. I have been the kid that has questions and I don't stop looking until I reach the correct answer or an acceptable conclusion. I want to know about all of the info as I can in the field of study that I am in. It's a lot of memory, and some people don't think that it's possible, but I figure it isn't impossible to know more than a lot of other people, and doing so will get me further in life simply because I started out with more base knowledge. Will I contact her, probably not. Why? I just can't at this time, there is too much going on with final examinations right around the corner and multiple projects due in several classes. I'm a tad bit overwhelmed to worry about getting into touch with her right now, but perhaps in the future. For anybody that is interested, she is reachable at Google+.