Thursday, July 19, 2012

Creativity in the Classroom

Sir Ken Robinson’s speech is one that I have viewed many times.  I have seen it in previous Wilkes classes, as well at professional development sessions through my school and school district.  I think the message that Sir Ken Robinson gives is very powerful, and something that should be thought about very carefully. 

In many ways, our schools do kill creativity.  There is so much focus on meeting standards, and paperwork, and standardized testing, and so many other things, that teachers don’t get to do what they really need to do –which is to teach.  No two kids are the same, so give each kid the same education just doesn’t make sense.  Each student has different interests, skills, and capabilities.  We need to help them discover these, and foster them.  As Sir Ken Robinson said, “all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them” (Robinson, 2006).  For example, in my school district, middle school students only have their “encore “ classes on a three day rotation.  So a student might have a week where they only have art class one time.  My best friend is our school’s art teacher, so I spend a lot of time in her classroom, and I see students that struggle in my French class (which is more “academic”) absolutely flourishing in her art class.  Yet these students only get to be in a class that they enjoy and in which they find success every three days. 

Sir Ken Robinson talked about how “we have no idea what’s going to happen in terms of the future”, and how “education is meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp” (Robinson, 2006).  We really don’t know what kind of future we are preparing our students for, so the best we can do is help them develop a variety of skills.  Creativity is one of these skills, and I feel it is one of the most important.  Gardner talks about how companies such as Google value creative thinking, and how many other companies are starting to do the same.  We are doing our students a huge disservice if we don’t encourage creativity.  “Parallels about between the synthesizing and the creating minds”, so we need to do whatever we can to develop both (Gardner, pg 88).

So, how do we go about fostering creativity in our classrooms?  There is no easy answer, but I think that technology can certainly help.  One of my favorite projects I have ever done was last year’s final project with my 8th grade French II students.  We finished the curriculum early, so I needed a project for the last week and a half of the school year.  I split the class into groups, gave each group a topic we had studied during the year and a flip camera, and said “go”.  I put no parameters on the assignment, and I was blown away with the result.  I had one group make a rap music video explaining the difference between “who” and “whom” in French.  Another group filmed an episode of a dramatic soap opera that taught direct and indirect object pronouns.  I was blown away by what they created, and they loved the project. There are many technologies and Web 2.0 tools out there that allow students to create unique and original material.  The more we can find ways to use these in our classes, the better off our students will be.


Gardner, H. (2007). Five Minds for the Future. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity? [Web]. Retrieved from

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