When I was in school, you colored inside the lines. You used realistic colors. You followed directions and made your product look exactly like the one your teacher modeled for you. What's wrong with that? Simple. No opportunities to think outside of the box, make choices and be creative.
Why is creativity so important? Creativity allows students to think of ways to create or problem solve without being given an end result or an example of what it "should" or "shouldn't" look like. In today's world, we desperately need more innovators and problem solvers. Today's problems can't be solved by yesterday's skills and techniques. Ever heard the phrase, "If we always do what we've always done, we'll always get what we've always gotten?" It's true! Students need to have more opportunities to be creative and have MORE of a voice in the classroom and even the world!!!!
But what if my child is not creative? All children have the ability to be creative. But just like any other skill, it needs time and opportunity to develop. Some children are more creative than others, but they've had more experience creating and exploring new ideas.
So why am I writing this blog post? Well, when I first started teaching 4 years ago, my views on important skills students should have were very skewed. I thought the most important skills my students should develop were listening, following directions, following the rules, completing work in a timely manner, etc. Those skills are all important, but nobody wants to be in a classroom where the environment is SO structured that students feel scared to take risks and be creative. Now my views on essential skills are so different. I want my students to develop their creativity, collaborate with peers, think critically and feel safe to communicate their ideas!
Now I have to stop myself quite often when a student is creating. I have to remind myself that whatever they create must be without my influence. I have to let them make their own choices, so that they feel safe to think differently. I have to learn to let go of control! What's your current main focus in your classroom?