Bodacious be in your creative thoughts . . . 

have no fear of others’ wrought . . . 

seize the moment . . . hold it dear . . . 

render new life into the atmosphere.

P. Shade

Bodacious be in your creative thoughts . . .

Bodacious. Now there’s a word fun to say! And to think about. To be bold or gutsy. Showing a readiness to take risks. Strikingly different or unconventional. Arresting or provocative. Courageous, adventurous, fearless, or daring. Seems pretty close to describing a student “caught” in the act of being creative.

So here’s a dilemma. How can we get students to take more intellectual and emotional risks? Bodacious in their creative thoughts. Keeping their creative thoughts hidden deep inside is a comfortable default mode. They have complete freedom. No one can criticize, no one can argue, no one can reject, and it costs nothing emotionally. But it’s only “real” in their imagination! We must see or hear students’ thinking to be able to understand and support their creativity. So how do we get what’s on the inside – outside? 

have no fear of others’ wrought . . .

Watching a child tearing off wrapping paper and ripping open the box of a new toy instantly reminds us of what it means to play “creatively.” A mound of Legos quickly become spaceships, superheros, spiders, and on and on. Kids just play. They do so quite naturally without the expectation or pressure of some kind of preconceived product, outcome, or ranking. Playing with things, ideas, or creative thoughts in the classroom have the same basic environmental needs. No internal or external forms of judgment required.

External Judgment

When students share a creative idea or thought, they run the risk of rejection, being laughed at, ridiculed, or even worse. Their idea may be misunderstood and quickly dismissed. If this happens in classrooms, students soon learn to keep their creative ideas and wonderings to themselves. It is easier and less painful.

Internal Judgment

One difficult part of the creative process for many students is being in a state of ambiguity or uncertainty. They may experience a great deal of anxiety, tension, nervousness, and even physical discomfort. Wondering “Is this right?” “Will this work?” “Is this the correct way?” They are now officially out of their comfort zones! This engagement level is where all creative behaviors originate. 

F.O.L.F. 

The Fear Of Looking Foolish. You and your students can have fun playing with this acronym. Rick coined this term when he was conducting Humor in Education professional learning sessions with teachers. Students will have to come to terms with F.O.L.F. in their own minds and on their own time. Some will blossom early on, and for others it will take more time and practice to break through this psychological barrier. Practicing thinking creatively in an intellectually and emotionally safe classroom environment builds security and trust. Freeing minds from the fear of possible embarrassment, judgment, or ridicule. 

So how can we create classrooms where students feel free to explore and expose their creativity?

WHAT? WOW!

You may be wondering how can you teach without judgment. There’s a whole lot of necessary grading and directions going on in any learning environment. But less can be more. To make our classrooms intellectually and emotionally safe places for students to grow the mindsets and skillsets of creativity requires that we:

  • provide feedback more formatively 
  • include more open-ended learning opportunities
  • establish norms to protect and promote creative expression

Formative feedback and open-ended learning are part of what we do as educators. We’re guessing establishing norms to protect creative expression may feel a bit daunting. Something that definitely wasn’t in the “playbook” of your teacher education program. Fortunately, Alex Osborn coined the term brainstorming, creating four rules that are just what’s needed to get started on designing a safe, creative classroom learning environment. 

Rules of Brainstorming

  1. Many Ideas – lots and lots – the “more the merrier”
  2. Freewheel – go “wild and crazy” – get “out of the box”
  3. Piggyback – feel free to connect to someone else’s idea
  4. No Judgment – in any form – what they say and what they do

Many Ideas and No Judgment seem pretty familiar and straight forward. Be forewarned and on the “lookout” for judgment. It can sneak into the classroom wearing many disguises: looks, sounds, actions, and expressions.

When we are asked, “How will I know when I’ve got it right?” we share two strong indicators. 

  1. When you overhear one student saying to another student,
    “Whoa, you are breaking one of our rules of brainstorming.”
  1. But the best “sign” is when you hear a student express a very unusual idea and you hear and/or “see” their classmates saying “WOW!” instead of “WHAT?”

seize the moment . . . hold it dear . . .

Creativity fuels the meaning of life. It artistically fuels the soul. It emotionally fuels the heart. It’s the fresh and the new! It’s the unique and the different! It’s connecting the dots not previously connected! But creativity always involves change. Every original creative act someone undertakes opens a doorway for change. Help your students embrace change by becoming emotional and intellectual creative risk-takers. Encourage more guessing, taking chances, trying it out, and more playing. 

“Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out.”

James Conan Bryant

The more students practice these creative behaviors, the more they will begin to stretch out of their comfort zones. Eventually becoming their new default thinking and learning style. Their self-confidence will grow along with their self-esteem when it comes to approaching creative challenges. 

render new life into the atmosphere.

Sir James Dyson is a great example of someone who has taken numerous creative emotional and intellectual risks and asked many “What if” questions. For example, he thought, “What if we made a wheelbarrow without a wheel?” “I know, let’s make a fan without any blades.” And perhaps his most famous bodacious creative thought: “How about we design and create a vacuum cleaner without a bag!”

James Dyson has asserted the importance of failure in ones life. “I made 5,127 prototypes of my vacuum cleaner before I got it right. That meant 5,126 failures. But I learned from each one. That’s how I came up with a solution. So I don’t mind failure. I’ve always thought that schoolchildren should be marked by the number of failures they’ve had. The child who tries strange things and experiences lots of failures to get there is probably more creative.”

Help students to understand that once they have a creative idea, the next step is to transform it into another state. Draw it. Write it. Sing it. Play with it. And when it’s time – share it. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your students is the belief and the ability to pursue a creative idea without fear of feeling different.

FOR YOUR CLASSROOM:

If you want to help your students enhance and embolden their creative thinking, you can begin by “remodeling” your classroom: 

  • Make your students more aware that your classroom is a safe place to take risks, ask questions, guess, fail, and make mistakes.
  • Provide more time for student thinking, reflecting, revising, tinkering, reviewing, redoing, pondering, and practicing.
  • Model the behaviors you want to see in your students.
  • Push yourself beyond the feeling of responsibility for all phases of teaching and learning. Allow students to go in different directions. Let stuff happen.
  • Use supportive phrases and questions that encourage creative thinking. Ask questions with thinking stems: What if? How might we? How could?

LET’S REFLECT & REMEMBER . . .

  1. Bodacious Creativity (bold, gutsy, unconventional, provocative, courageous) involves both emotional and intellectual risk taking. Seems pretty close to describing a student “caught” in the act of being creative. Strive to make your classroom an intellectually and emotionally safe place for students to grow the mindsets and skillsets of creativity.
  2. Creativity fuels the meaning of life. It artistically fuels the soul. It emotionally fuels the heart. Creativity opens the doorway for change. Help your students embrace it. Expand their intellectual and emotional comfort zones. We must see or hear students’ thinking to be able to understand and support their creativity.
  3. Help students to understand that once they have a creative idea, the next step is to transform it into another state. Draw it. Write it. Play with it. And when it’s time – share it. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your students is the belief and the ability to pursue a creative idea without fear of feeling different.

 “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” 


Anais Nin

Live, learn, and lead creatively!

Rick & Patti