“Imagination is more important than knowledge. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” ~ Albert Einstein
This week I was walking through classrooms when a piece of student work caught my eye – cause for reflection. The work was posted in a language arts classroom. The class had been reading Seed Folks, by Paul Fleischman. As a reflection activity, students were given choices with regard to how they summarized their reading. This particular student had drawn cartoon panels, illustrating various concepts they had taken away from the reading.
As I examined the work of this unknown student, who obviously possessed artistic ability, a number of questions came to mind.
- Does this student realize they possess a unique talent?
- Has the student been encouraged to pursue this talent – by a parent, teacher, or mentor?
- As a school, do we help students recognize their talents and abilities?
- Do we take steps to help students build upon their talents and interests?
- How do we encourage creativity in our classrooms and at our school?
As debates about school improvement and reform take place, ad nauseam, I hope those of us entrenched in the front lines of educating children continue the battle to maintain opportunities for students (and teachers) to work creatively, identify talents and develop as innovative problem solvers.
It worries me when I hear politicians talk about “back to basics,” focus on classroom discipline, structure, etc. (maybe this is just an Arizona issue). It brings to mind an assembly line: uneducated in –> educated out. Devoid of innovation, absent creativity, with the only measure of success the scores on a multiple choice test.
In spite of external (and political) pressures to force school reform that focuses on test results and “bottom-line” outcomes, I believe it is critical that educators continue to make the case for creativity and allow students opportunities to apply their interests to the problem solving process.
Please share how you encourage creativity in the classroom (or in your school) and how students are given opportunities to pursue their personal talents/interests.