Creativity all around us! Unlimited daily access via social media brings it right in your “front door.” Perhaps you feel challenged or unsure of its place and purpose in your classroom. Unfortunately in our schools, creativity can often get pigeonholed in the Arts. Today’s future-ready classrooms are looking for it in all content areas, and finding ways for students to explore and express their creativity – maximizing student engagement. So how can you help your students recognize, react to, and appreciate all creativity?
The first step is to help them practice being open to new experiences. Guiding them to be more open to new encounters and perspectives. For instance, you could have walked up to the “smiling vegetable display” and said, “Oh, I see the one I want – the yellow one. It’s on the middle ‘shelf’.” Your role is to help students become aware of things that may have previously gone unnoticed by helping them practice using their open, unboxed imagination. Having a conversation about this photo of smiling vegetables might be a fun place to start.
Learning and honing the skill of observation is the second step. Encourage students to go on a “Wonder Walk” – on their way to school, at the mall, around their neighborhood, in the science museum, or in the heart of a big city. Challenge them to continue to see example after example of creativity everywhere – in both the Arts and Sciences.
Simply turning a corner in the grocery story and being presented with a “smiling” wall of peppers can be just the ticket. It can stop you in your tracks, make you smile – requiring you to exclaim “Cool!” “Awesome!” Imagine these reactions quickly followed by a laugh – a happy moment squeezed between a mission of grocery shopping. Initial emotional reactions to, this or any unexpected display of creativity, bring feelings of surprise, amazement, delight, or perhaps even our favorite British phrase – gobsmacked! Help your students appreciate the emotions that accompany “discovering” creativity in everyday walks of life.
Dendrites in High Gear
After the initial burst of emotions, curiosity and wonder immediately take over. “Why did they do that?” “How did they come up with that idea?” “I wonder who actually stacked the peppers that way?” “Did the stacker get in trouble with the boss, or did the boss tell the stacker to display them this way?” “Are there any other creative displays in the store?” Wow, great fuel for personal creativity explorations and discussions.
Creativity throws our dendrites into high gear! You see, the brain craves novelty! We want to know more. We began to think of other ways they could display merchandise. Cans could be stacked to create a flag around the 4th of July. Cereal boxes could be arranged to form a Christmas tree. As we looked again at the pepper display, another quotation came to mind.
“Every valuable creative idea will always be logical in hindsight.” ~ Edward de Bono
So now we looked back at the display and thought “Of course! A smiling vegetable face!” These important conversations around creativity will fuel students imaginations as they design and create their own products. A very good place to start . . . “I wonder” conversations.
It continues to get more exciting as students’ minds jump from one idea to another in response to a simple photo or display. They begin to make connections to their past, asking where had they seen this form of creativity before? For example, at the halftime show of some college football games, bands made elaborate kaleidoscopic human formations (like the pepper display) as they entertained the fans with their music. And the best part . . . students begin to think, “Hmmmmmm, I could do something like this in my work.”
Think! How did you feel after exposure to a work of creativity? Excited? Happy? Energized? Startled? Peaceful? Well, it’s time to celebrate! You observed it! You discovered it! You spun off new thoughts and ideas! It was dreamlike – marvelous creativity. Oh, Wow! The creative wealth it just brought to your life! And it will be there again tomorrow. And forever. You just have to seek it out!
What do you see when you look at the photo of peppers displayed purposely and creatively in the neighborhood grocery store? A rainbow? A smile? A . . . ? Stop for a moment, and enter the grocery store in your mind. Is your mood elevated? Do you feel a bit of excitement or appreciation for the creative endeavor? Hope it was a feeling of “awesome!”
Read our new “Awesome” Creativity Conundrum that inspired this blog post! We will be going through the alphabet with our conundrum compositions. Stay tuned!
FOR YOUR CLASSROOM:
It may be useful to examine photos of classic works (art, music, architecture) to encourage and inspire students to 1) observe more closely, 2) think more critically, 3) make new connections and 4) discuss respectfully when expressing their ideas. During the activity, students can also share different observations, perspectives, and viewpoints.
A second activity is to take students on a that Wonder Walk. Take students for a short walk around the perimeter of your school building or playground. Give students a blank sheet of paper. Ask students to jot down or sketch their observations. What is something they never noticed before? What is something they believed to be a creative solution or a creative display? When finished, return as a group to reflect and discuss.
LET’S REFLECT & REMEMBER . . .
- Future-ready educators look for creativity in all content areas and find ways for students to explore and express their creativity – maximizing student engagement.
- First recognizing and appreciating creativity helps students practice being open to new experiences. Learning and honing the skill of observation is the second step.
- Creativity throws our dendrites into high gear! You see, the brain craves novelty!
“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.”
~ Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
Live, learn, and lead creatively!
Rick & Patti