Have you ever entered a classroom and been amazed at what was taking place? Maybe students were peacefully moving throughout the room, designing solutions to solve problems, or investigate new ideas. The chances are that creativity was being facilitated and employed at a high degree. Teachers who foster creativity in students truly create amazing learning opportunities. Let’s explore why creativity is so important and how to incorporate it in your classroom to better meet student needs.
Why is Creativity Important for Students?
In order to better grasp why creativity is so important for students, we must first understand what creativity is. Creativity is a means of independent expression. Ingenuity, cleverness, and the ability to use one’s imagination are all accurate descriptors of creativity. Creativity can transcend into all subject areas and ways of life. It is an attribute that students can practice and grow, but why?
What if farmers never discovered how to plant and grow crops? What if the pizza was never invented by experimenting with different ingredients? What if cell phones and computers were never created because no one was brave enough to test out the technology? What if medicines that make life easier for those with chronic illness were never found? We can thank creativity for all of these wonderful, and in some cases, life-changing inventions!
There are so many more that were not mentioned! A dose of creativity is what makes inventions possible. These products of creativity are used each and every day, so it is crucial that creativity is fostered in students for the future. Here are some additional reasons why creativity is important for students:
Limitless Learning Opportunities
Student learning should not have a limit! Students should be directed to explore all possibilities and encouraged to expand their thinking in order to discover brand new ideas.
Increased Engagement and Motivation
Creativity makes things fun! When students aren’t confined to standard assignments via worksheets and papers, the outlets for individual expression are amplified. Students are much more likely to be engaged when creativity is involved in their work; therefore, students are more greatly motivated to participate. This holds true with even the most difficult or shyest of students. Creativity truly produces a win-win situation for both teachers and students!
Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills
Another reason why creativity is so important for students is that it is an excellent way of promoting problem solving skills. Many students struggle with solving problems, but when creativity is mixed in, students realize that the realm of possibilities is not limited. Students learn to think outside the box and create unique ideas and solutions.
Finally, creativity is important for students, because it builds self-confidence. Students gain confidence through their ability to create and build upon their own ideas and visions. With creativity, there is generally no right or wrong responses. As long as students are following the guidelines or expectations set up by the teacher, whatever they come up with should be considered a success.
Strategies and Activities that Promote Creativity
Providing creative activities does not have to be a complex endeavor. It can be as simple as integrating creative writing at the end of a unit to asking students to draw a picture of how they interpreted a text. Below are some additional ways to incorporate creativity into the classroom.
To create a classroom like the one mentioned earlier, teachers should select activities that encourage curiosity. The outdated norm of sitting at a desk all day no longer matches the demands for student learning in today’s high-tech world. Although the thought of allowing students to freely move about the classroom to solve problems and create solutions may be overwhelming to some, if guidelines and teacher expectations for behavior are firmly established, this type of activity should be completed with ease.
To encourage curiosity, teachers can establish creativity corners where students are asked to explore new topics such as life cycles, weather patterns, etc. Each corner should have examples and items for students to explore. Students will enjoy the hands-on experience and discovering at their own pace.
Use Divergent Thinking
Divergent thinking activities require students to investigate options in order to create a variety of solutions. One of the most enjoyable and beneficial ways to enhance divergent thinking in students is to complete a STEM exercise. Students create solutions through trial and error. Ask students to work in small groups to build miniature replicas of dams, or ask students to come up with solutions to slow the effects of erosion.
Teach Creative Skills
Another interactive way to teach creative thinking skills is to complete an activity called “3 For 1”. In this activity, students should be given three random materials in order to create one finished product. In addition to the three materials, students may also use tape or glue to complete the final product.
The finished product could be a solution to a problem or simply a creation students made up using the provided materials. Regardless, students must explain their new product and its uses. To take this activity a step further, teachers may ask students to create promotional jingles or commercials about their products to present to classmates. Then, classmates can vote on which products they would want to purchase, etc.
Many times, creativity is synonymous with the arts. As we have seen, this is not always the case; however, the arts are generally filled with elements of creativity! When employing the use of cross-curricular lessons, it is useful to integrate elements of art due to its high likelihood of increasing student engagement in the topic at hand. Here are some examples:
- Music: Teachers may ask students to create songs about a particular subject to help them remember key facts. Students could create songs about the water cycle, scientific elements, etc.
- Visual Art: Students may draw visuals to accompany their notes on important topics in math. This is especially important when teaching geometry in the earlier grades. When students physically draw and explore various shapes, they are more likely to recall their elements (i.e. number of sides, angles, etc.) later on.
- Theater: When learning about historical figures, students can create dialogue and participate in a “talk show” where students pretend to be a historical figure and answer questions about that figure.
Students could be asked to improve solutions that are already in use but could be enhanced. For instance, students could develop an improved solution for pencil sharpeners by developing a model for a new type of sharpener that eliminates pencil shavings. Other ideas would be to ask students to create more economical methods of transportation, brushing teeth, or even planting and growing crops. Essentially, students are tasked with finding better, more efficient ways of doing things.
Create Imaginative Stories
Students love to use their imaginations. What better way to facilitate creativity than asking students to create their own imaginative stories? Students should come up with their own characters, settings, plots, and problems in order to create a story with adventure and excitement. In addition to writing the text of the story, students can create illustrations with pictures and other visuals to supplement the text.
For students that may be more hesitant to embrace their creative writing side, try using fan fiction instead. Students can take characters they already love and imagine them in new places, going on new adventures, and so much more.