Mastering Creativity in Modern Classroom
Dr. Yousra Mazeh
Creativity in early times was considered as mastery and a divine force. Plato claimed that this inspiration is the gift of god (plato, the laws). In the age of enlightenment creativity was considered as an individual achievement then it was shifted to the achievement of science and technology. Creativity is viewed in many different ways: In education it is called innovation, in business “entrepreneurship”, in mathematics “problem solving”, in music “performance”, etc. (Reid and Petocz, 2004). Scholars who focused on creativity concentrate on the individual, or group of people, the process, or the product, to varying degrees (Barron, 1968; Swede, 1990; Csikszentmihalyi, 1999; Robinson, 2001, respectively). Materials, activities, characteristics, assessments, environments can also foster creativity. Designing materials that include divergent thinking, experimentation, spontaneity, risk-taking and self-motivation that aid student engagement in the learning process. Such factors results in creative learning outcomes. Einstein’s creative thinking is described by Koestler (1964) as ‘combinatorial play’ (cited by Reid & Petocz, 2004, p.50), which they explain as the ‘putting together of ideas in unusual combinations’ (2004, p.50). Therefore, we need a system that includes creativity and allows teachers to explore the best innovative way of teaching. We need teachers who are equipped with the basic skills that enable them to take risk, to face challenges, to have solutions for different issues, to work with quality data, and to have self-motivation. Teachers who are able to understand the fundamental, interdisciplinary issues that enable them to create the proper learning materials and tools (Reid & Petocz, 2004). Robinson (2001) views that creativity as a global educational priority, essential to effective learning and teaching, the modernization of our educational systems, employability, business success and economic prosperity. Howard Gardner defines creativity as the ability to ‘knit together information from disparate sources into a coherent whole’ (Gardner, 2006, p.46). Teachers who are able to link between student teachers’ engagement with learning, teaching and creativity are the best teachers. Bleakley’s typology focuses on ten key types of creativity: an ordering process, rhythm and cycle, originality and spontaneity, the irrational, problem solving, problem-stating, inspiration, serendipity, resistance to the uncreative, and withdrawal and absence (Bleakley, 2004, p.463).
Creativity was linked to art. It is part of human nature. Creativity can be embedded in every aspect of our life. There are many traits that have been associated with creativity. It is a way of thinking and perceiving things in an extraordinary way. It is a way of changing a normal idea into a distinguished one. It is a way of bringing a dead text into life. It is a way of creating future leaders in the field of endeavor.
According to literature, there are four stages in the process of creative thinking: preparation, individuals taking initial actions, overcome challenges, nurture, create insight that leads to an Aha moment, brilliance and originality. Creative individuals are the ones who experienced various possibilities, have a clear insight and intuition, verification, imagination and a unique technique. Fostering creativity in our students through the use of creative teaching methods is challenging, although it can be managed.
Creativity among students can be achieved through two factors. The first factor is the teaching style. Creative teachers can foster creativity among students by transforming their ability to think creatively into the ability to act creatively. And this requires a huge amount of patience Harding (2010). In this content patience means a painful effort, and resolute courage. Gardner (1993) claims that the creative geniuses take about ten years to master their fields before making astounding contributions. Edelson (1999) claims that creative teachers need to have knowledge in the area and persistent to achieve. According to Ewing Gibson (2007), creative teachers are open to new experiences, willing to take risks, flexible, spontaneous, and open-minded.
The second factor is establishing an environment that contributes creative thinking, rewards creative ideas, encourages risk-taking, enhance imagining from various perspectives, question assumptions, identify interests, generate multiple hypotheses, and allow mistakes (Sternberg and Williams, 1996& Starko 1995).
Traditional teaching focuses on competition, restricts choices, and conform pressure. Some higher educational institutions accept potential students based on a certificate that verifies that the student has succeeded high school with high GPA. They evaluate students frequently not to reconsider the best technique in teaching, but to test the students’ level. The material they use to teach is not updated. The teacher uses mass lectures. The student is supposed to study and pass the final exam. This teaching and learning process is accompanied with lots of stress and pressure. According to Krashen when anxiety is present in the classroom, it will create nervousness and fear among students which will lead to poor performance. This kind of environments wastes students’ energy. Wastes the energy and effort that should be used to facilitate the task at hand. (Eysenck 1979). Although It is a major obstacle to learning.
Traditional educational institutes create a perception among teachers and students that the objective of learning is to finish the semester successfully. This type of teaching style is based on memorization and repetition. Traditional teaching focuses on exposing content knowledge in order to pass the exam. Traditional teachers do not consider different styles in teaching. And they don’t consider techniques that foster collaborative, problem solving, and critical thinking. This style kills motivation among students and destroys creativity. Teachers should give their students sufficient space and time in order to develop process of creativity. They also should create environment that values the students’ input, create tools and techniques, organize resources that help students become receptive changes and responsive to challenges, bright, motivated and quick. They should give students the data, the sufficient time to process their information in order to have new working ideas. They must foster an environment that influences artistic creativity, and must create places where creative students thrive to achieve.
Creative learning requires focusing on teaching quality with greater effectiveness and efficiency in teaching. Developing real resources, integrate news styles of teaching help students explore their creativity and learn without the pressure of assessment, acknowledge the students’ voice, empower students to take ownership of their own learning, allow them to negotiate the curriculum, improve teacher-student relationship, create a student-center environment, help students to become active participants, and the possibilities are unlimited.
Where is creativity? Is creativity restricted to art courses? What has affected teacher to become less creative? There is a debatable issue whether we should teach using the same traditional way that proved to be ineffective. Or to teach in a way that amaze students. Traditional teaching techniques are unable to teach different skills in a way that prepares the student to think and process information. According to Kolb effective, learning is seen when a person progresses through a cycle of four stages: (1) having a concrete experience followed by (2) observation of and reflection on that experience which leads to (3) the formation of abstract concepts (analysis) and generalizations (conclusions) and then (4) test hypothesis in future situations, resulting in new experiences. “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). Therefore, according to Kolbe, in order for teachers to become effective teachers, they should be able to understand the students’ learning style in order to adapt to the ideal method. Teachers should respond to the needs of the learners. So, kolb created four learning styles that can be effective and can inspire and motivate the learners. These styles include: diverging, assimilating, converging, and accommodating.
Diverging (feeling and watching)
This learning style enables students to see things from different perspectives. Students in this style prefer to watch closely, they tend to gather information and use imagination to provide a unique solution to the specific issue. This style will help students view concrete situations from several points of views and different perceptions. Also, this style helps students perform better in situations that require ideas generation or brainstorming. Furthermore, students who master the divergent style to be more imaginative and emotional than others. They tend to be creative in arts. They prefer to work with a team, listen to others, open-minded, and are willing to receive personal feedback with being defensive.
Assimilating (watching and thinking)
This learning style involves a concise, logical approach. Ideas and concepts are more important than people. This type of students prefer good ideas, quality information, and clear explanations rather than practical ones. They are the best among others at understanding varieties of information, and good at organizing their ideas in a concise, logical way. Students who are interested in this style are less focused on people and more focused on quality information and ideas, and abstract concepts. They are more into logical theories than practical values. This style is adequate for effectiveness in information and science careers. People who acquire this style are good in readings, lectures, analytical models, thinking. Those are good in research.
Converging (doing and thinking)
Students with a converging learning style have a good ability to solve problems and have the ability to find different solutions to practical issues. They prefer technical tasks. They are less interested in people and interpersonal aspects. They are also experts in finding practical use for ideas and theories. They are good in finding solutions, making decisions, and answer challenging questions. They are attracted to technical tasks, problems, and interpersonal issues. They prefer to experiment new ideas, work with practical issues. Those people can be specialists in technology.
Accommodating (doing and feeling)
This style embraces hands-on, and relies on intuitions rather than logical thinking. Students with this style prefer analysis, practical, and experiential approach. They are also fascinated with new challenges and new experiences, and they like to make different options and different plans. They rely on “gut” instinct rather than logical analysis. They depend on others, information rather their own analysis in making a decision. Those students are very common in the general population.
These learning styles can be used by teachers to criticize and evaluate any other learning styles and techniques available to students in order to improve the teaching performance. And to develop more appropriate learning tools (kolb, 1984). Teachers should ensure that the designed activities can equip each learner with the tool they need in order to acquire different skills. Students should have the chance to acquire the knowledge that helps them master skills they require to master.
These methods should be widely utilized to enhance student engagement and proficient learning, via creative learning and teaching. It is important for teachers to understand that these approaches are challenging. So, teachers should work harder in order to enhance their skills to become more creative, and effective. They should understand the whole cognitive learning journeys. Teachers should be engaged in educational programs in order to connect theory and practice. Also, educational institutiona should support teachers by providing all kinds of resources. University and school should modify the whole process of learning and start designing the curriculum that is based on professional learning and practice. Nevertheless, teaching practice and experimental learning should become crucial in all learning stages, starting from the earlier stage up to the higher education to allow students to develop skills, experiment and innovate. Educational institutions should design a curriculum that enhances self-fulfillment and sustain motivation and create meaningful life-long learners. Should create learning and assessment policies that are congruent which provide continuing professional learning opportunities for students. Learners and teachers need to be encouraged to move beyond a simple teaching demonstration model, so that they feel assertive about risk-taking, divergence and willingness to experiment. Teachers and institutions have to work together in order to create a curriculum which values creativity through communications with students and through learning, teaching and assessment principles, policies and practices. According to Reid and Petocz, “…the setting up (of) a learning environment that encourages students to see the essence as well as the detail of a subject, to formulate and solve questions, to see the connectedness between diverse areas, to take in and react to new ideas, and to include the element of surprise in their work. Such a learning environment includes not only appropriate materials and assessment techniques, but also methods of learning that address the important affective dimensions creativity.” (2004, p.45)
It is also very important to consider the assessment process as a part of student engagement, since assessment processes, outcomes and results are created based on a criteria. This criteria should consider values and purposes. A criteria that considers creative processes and skills that focuse on the end products. The products of creativity and learning which consider the creative learning processes students’ have gone through. Assessment that fails to consider creative processes can be inadequate. Assessing only the products of creativity won’t tell the whole creative story. Teachers need more innovative assessment practices and tools. They should be able to create varieties of analysis, investigations, questions, group tasks/projects, problem-based learning, group role-play, to bridge theory and practice, and assessment credit for all of these would help the teacher understand the whole creative story. Such assessment procedure can be challenging, although, it will support, inform and develop learning and creativity.
Teacher should be aware of the reality that less preferred learning style will create a challenging environment that will reduce the motivation and lead to bad performance. While teachers who master these styles will strengthen their students and enhance a desired environment that encourages students to learn and become effective and creative future thinkers with unique skills. So, materials, tools, and activities should be developed in ways that enhance the students’ abilities. They should be able to enhance students through the whole process of progression. In conclusion, professional learning can be improved through not only the use of creative learning and teaching styles, contexts and environments, but by consideration of what the various factors and types of creativity might be.
Barron, F. (1968) Creativity and Personal Freedom, Princeton: D. Van Nostrand Co.
Biggs, J. (1999) Teaching for Quality Learning at University, Buckingham: SRHE & O.U. Press.
Bleakley, A. (2004) ‘Your Creativity or Mine?: a typology of creativities in higher education and the value of a pluralistic approach’, in Teaching in Higher Education, Vol.9, No.4: 463-475
. Boyd, B. (2008) The Learning Classroom, London: Hodder Gibson. Cropley, A.J. (1967) ‘S-R Psychology and Cognitive Psychology’, in Vernon, P. E. (ed.) (1978) Creativity, Middlesex: Penguin.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999) ‘Implications of a Systems Perspective for the Study of Creativity’, in R. J. Sternberg (ed.) Handbook of Creativity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gardner, H. (2006) Five Minds for the Future, Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Hebb, D.O. (1949) The Organization of Behaviour, CA: Wiley.
Koestler, A. (1964) The Act of Creation, New York: MacMillan.
Kolb, D. A. (1976). The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual. McBer & Co, Boston, MA.
Kolb, D. A. (1981). Learning Styles and Disciplinary Differences. The Modern American College, 232-255.
Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
Kolb, D. A., & Fry, R. E. (1974). Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential learning. MIT Alfred P. Sloan School of Management.
Kolb, D. A., Rubin, I. M., & McIntyre, J. M. (1984). Organizational psychology: Readings on Human Behavior in Organizations. Prentice Hall.
Kruger, D. (1981) An Introduction to Phenomenological Psychology, Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press.
Lowes, J. L. (1978) The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the ways of the Imagination, London: Pan.
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2001) Creativity in Education, Glasgow: LT Scotland.
Learning and Teaching Scotland (2004) Learning, Thinking and Creativity: A Staff Development Handbook, Glasgow: LT Scotland.
Jeffrey, B. & Craft, A. (2004) ‘Teaching Creatively and Teaching for Creativity: Distinctions and Relationships’, Educational Studies, Vol.30, No.1, March 2004, London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.
Reid, A. & Petocz, P. (2004) ‘Learning Domains and the Process of Creativity’, The Australian Educational Researcher, Volume 31, Number2, August 2004.
Robinson, K. (2001) Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Sussex: Capstone Publishing. Rogers, C.R. (1978) ‘Towards a Theory of Creativity’, in Vernon, P. E. (ed.) Creativity, Middlesex: Penguin.
Swede, G. (1993) Creativity: A New Psychology, Toronto: Wall & Emerson.