Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


This conversation is closed.

Do artistic/creative individuals' make better teachers?

Another example I found:


They also have a youtube channel that is amazing.

Also, the new Ted-Ed site capsulates this idea of the arts mixed with education.

What do you think?

  • Colin D

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    Apr 29 2012: No, just that trait alone does not make a good teacher. Having a full spectrum understanding of a subject alone is also not sufficient. The best teachers have BOTH creativity and a solid foundation in their subject mixed in with empathy...this allows for a teacher to assume the role of the student mentally and CREATE appropriate connections to their SUBJECT that the students can understand.
    Teachers are the easiest thing to criticize because we ALL had great ones that made it look easy and awful ones that left impressions.
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    Apr 29 2012: Creativity and open-mindedness are useful traits in professions involving thinking on your feet, planning and adapting to unanticipated challenges and opportunities, listening, and asking questions. Teaching is one such profession. Some artists have those traits, as well as scientists and those educated in the humanities.
    It is likely best for students to be led in their educations by people from a range of disciplines, some of whom may be more adept at cultivating convergent thinking and others divergent thinking. But I don't think artists are necessarily either more divergent in thinking than their peers from other disciplines or more adept at cultivating divergent thinking.
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      Apr 29 2012: Good point Fritzie,

      "I don't think artists are necessarily either more divergent in thinking than their peers from other disciplines or more adept at cultivating divergent thinking. "

      I think that I didn't use the right words and just revised a bit of wording. I should have replaced "artistic" with "creative" and I strongly believe many teachers that are lving within their comfort zones (like tenure, a union, and a steady salary, etc.), which can leave little room for growth without any outside influences. Maybe if the class had more good grades or the students showed deep understanding on the subjects in class, that would get a teacher a pay raise?

      I heard in some countries in Europe, the teaching profession is regarded as highly, if not higher, than scientists/lawyers/politicians. In America, teachers are viewed as naggy, stressful, the dictator, the bad guy, the "man", and other negative beliefs. I have a hard time trying to cooperate with a class with these notions and it can sometimes leave me in limbo.
  • May 3 2012: The question is "better for whom"? Yes Creative Teachers are best for right-brained creative students. We are full of teaching practices that use hands-on activities, imagination, problem solving, and of course interactive / cooperative approaches. We are not always better for left-brained analytical types, who usually excell in the old "factory" methods that have dominated the schools for the last 150 years. We are often not tolerated by administrative personal in schools, who almost universally are left-brained analyticals. If it's possible to create a school environment that is balanced between right and left brain activities, an environment in which both types of thinkers are leaders as well as followers, and an environment where research is done longterm about who succeeds post high school in life / not just college, then a real case can be made for creative methods of delivery, research, and most importantly creative assessments for students to make as a measure of their understanding and achievement.
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      May 4 2012: Excellent Point Sharon,

      I see your reasoning and the brain is one complicated piece of machinery. It is like an ancient alien artifact that we are still trying to uncover.

      I think a drive for more capital in a society renders the education to only focus on the "factory" dominated part of the brain.

      What can we do to change left-siders to both sides and who do we go for implementing this change?
      • May 7 2012: At the present, the national consciousness seems to be dominated by "quick - feelgood" anwsers to complicated longterm issues. As long as national policy in public settings is dominated by simplistic expectations, we will not fix this or other problems.

        However, I think that the media owes America a lot of "good" press for longterm solutions. If the only place an adult can learn about longterm planning and complex solution implimentation is on PBS & Discovery Channel, then we will only be preaching to the choir. How about the corporate giants organizing some "thinktank" style competitions about "big changes". Not only to "see proposals for solutions" but to pilot and impliment them as well. Corporate World-Wides pay a lot of money for this kind of research, however, it could be practically free "comparatively speaking" if schools and educational institutions were the competitors in these competitions.

        Creative thinking is often "out side the box", "futuristic predictions" are not just for SciFi fiction writng, and methods of working in the most creative of businesses is the antithesis of the factory model. Students are building robots in competition, but not getting the same press coverage as a football team. Students are asking complex questions about the world economy, political hot spots, and 3rd world assistance. I think that they could find very interesting and marketable answers to a lot of things . . . if the platform for creative education were to take a turn toward problem solving and away from memorization and testing.
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          May 8 2012: Good Points Sharon!

          I think this other conversation I have still ongoing is pretty interesting and it precisely puts this type of memorization and testing to the "test".


          All things are connected and I have found my topics constantly correlate to each other. This is the second time I have referred someone to this conversation, but I am glad you bring up these points. =)

          Hope it is helpful and inspiring because it sure did for me. =)
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    Apr 29 2012: I think teachers in the United States are an easy target and a popular scapegoat. The truth is that teachers by and large work extremely hard trying to meet the needs of students with very different needs and to participate in the parenting of children, all the while keeping an eye on various recording and testing requirements imposed upon them by the local or state bureaucracy, and at the same time reading and hearing continuously that the public believes them to be uncreative, un-progressive, and not willing to work hard for kids because they know their union will protect their jobs. Most teachers could not work any harder and were drawn to the profession in the hope of using their ingenuity to figure out how to reach every child. Many are disappointed that highly standardized systems do not allow them to teach as creatively as they would like. Paying them more might improve their quality of life and reduce the financial aspect of the stress of their jobs, but most are probably working as hard as they can already.
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      May 2 2012: As a teacher, I thank you. I teach with some extremely dedicated, enthusiastic teachers. We all work diligently to keep our students actively engaged and learning and THINKING. What I have learned, is that worked for me as a learner, may not work for my students. I have learned that being engaged with each other does not mean that students are engaged in the learning process and that sometimes that may LOOK boring. The excitement, the creativity comes when after a student has learned something, that STUDENT can say: I understand! I get it! I see what you mean! And then, if that student can use what was learned in a slightly different way? There is the light.
      Maybe sometimes creativity LOOKS boring, because it is not what we are currently used to!
      • May 3 2012: Don't you find that many teachers get burned out? We get in such a rut where we adhere to our lesson plans year after year. I don't see very many teachers changing it up year after year. Not that I'm any better about it. But do you think there is a way that we can keep our professionals from getting stuck in that job routine rut?
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          May 4 2012: Maybe a reward system of some kind needs to be implemented?
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    Apr 29 2012: yes indeed, they do.
    the possession of artistic skills is a gift of being able to explain ones thoughts in an artistic and most simplified manner depending on the understanding of the expected audience. that i believe is a trait highly desirable in teachers whose job is to explain the works of scholars in the most simplest way possible.
    • Colin D

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      Apr 29 2012: Someone can be a great artist and not even understand what they teach, so there is no way for them to simplify it. Being able to draw a wonderful double helix does not mean they can explain the awesomeness of the replication machinery or the importance of tRNA. Just like being able to understand those concepts doesn't make one a good teacher either... like any real problem, it takes a spectrum of talents to teach effectively from creativity, to sales, to intellect and understanding.
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        Apr 30 2012: true, but by artistic skills i am not refering to having exceptional artistic skils like micheal angelo or da vinci , i mean having the ability to explain say string theory or Archimedes flotation principle in a way that they may bear the same magnitude of simplicity to the student. being an artist means being able to convey ones ideas in such a way that it can be understood by the general audience's different points of view. i agree with your conclusion of the need of talents, intellect and understanding but artistic skills are essential to making those ideas understandable by people who may have a lower intellectual capabilities than the teacher
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    May 4 2012: We do get burned out. We get burned out, not just from doing the same thing year after year, but from a lack of REAL interaction with our peers. We plan, but we don't discover or evaluate together. My campus initiated a project this year trying to get teachers to share great ideas by inviting other teachers to come and observe. Few teachers participated, and when one of us DID share, few came to observe.

    I think we also get "scared" by the push for our students to perform on tests, so we miss opportunities to learn for fun! I think, then, that for us as teachers to not get stuck, WE EACH have to make the commitment to not get stuck, to reach out to others for ideas and support, to get involved in learning more and bringing more to our students so our students can be more involved. I am not talking about more dog and pony shows, but we do have to enrich ourselves in some way in order to not get stuck.
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      May 4 2012: Hey Michelle,

      Don't you think it would useful if there was a network for each profession that is designed like Ted.com?

      It would be an explosion of sorts!

      Others won't feel so pressured with this social network implemented for "mandatory use". =)
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        May 7 2012: Hey Derek!
        I am finding some networks for education, Linkedin has some, and Texas is going to Project Share which could be a wonderful way for teachers to network. However, I often find myself inspired by what goes on in other fields, which is how I found TED!

        For me, education should be about my students, about helping them grow, learn, learn to learn. It isn't always, and that frustrates me. I think networks help us remember our purpose, keep us on track, encourage us when we are feeling inadequate ... I, personally, would love to see this explosion!
    • May 4 2012: I wish we could model it more after Norway. You would think that we would try to learn something from the country that has consistently tested in the top 5 countries in the world. They gave up a significant amount of structure. Grades are fairly irrelevant and students are free to find, work on, and learn about things that interest them. They don't have tests constantly. They don't go home with mounds of homework. They work on long range and sustained projects that teach the aspects of the lessons they need to learn. Personally, I think that students just need to solve real world problems. There are students finding the cure for certain cancers, others that build nuclear reactors in their garages, and still others that program applications. Our kids can change the world if we would just let them loose.
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        May 4 2012: In America, I think we feel "superior" and our system is the "best", which restricts us to error. If only we could shift the paradigms of the nation from nationalism to humanism. The universe is our learning ground and nothing is ever "perfect", it can only be known as "reaching its full potential", then another better system might replace the old. =)
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        May 7 2012: James ... that would be fantastic. One thing that could aid us as teachers is looking into flipped teaching, and using class time for project time and the "extras" that we don't have time for in class. However, as I consider this as a possibility I am confronted with several "buts"...
        But what about those students with no internet service?
        But what about those students who do not do the required work at home (even just watching a video)?
        But what if I cannot create an engaging lesson for home, or find one already done?

        I am hopeful that I won't let these worries keep me from trying!
        • May 7 2012: I know what you mean. I would love to set up lectures for online learning that students can do at home. I'm not as concerned with that as with inspiration. If we inspire a love for a subject, the rest falls into place. Some of my students have no love for science. We think that is a failure, but it isn't. I can use English loving students to help write articles for publishing. I can use business students to help get materials and donations. I can use social students to help network laboratories in the area for support. I can use graphic design students to update my website. I can use artistic students to create illustrations, movies, and pop up books. My class is more like a 3 month long science fair project where the state curriculum is taught as applying directly to that project. Students don't have to understand the science, necessarily, but they do have to understand the potential role they want to take in relation to science.
  • May 3 2012: My first thought was, "OF COURSE!", but I do have to say, after reading some of the comments, I can agree that some subjects require an analytical teacher. I'm a teacher of Science, and creativity, I think, is mandatory. The science teachers that lecture don't get through to students about the important stuff. Question Everything! Research is really fun... for the first 5 min. Experiments are really really short compared to the prep time. Sometimes you can make things implode with nothing more than heat and cool. I'm hoping to integrate specific engineering issues into my class next year, such as building a lunar lander. I want to give my students real life application and show them what Science is really capable of. On the other hand, what about the basics? Elementary teachers (I take them for granted) need to find creative ways to give kids the building blocks. Not only do they have to engage their students, but they need to have a pretty extensive knowledge of several subjects. Due to the nature and level of these subjects, students will need to develop logical systems of learning. I think that we need more creativity on the High School level, however. We are trying to develop the geniuses of tomorrow after all.
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      May 4 2012: James,

      We really do need to level the imbalance on the levels of education. The bracket of elementary school requires a lot of knowledge, now that I think about it, and the need to keep this agenda at a constant. Seems a bit difficult, but I guess elementary school teachers needs to be "Smarter Than a 5th Grader".

      High school is the, scientifically proven, time period where the brain developes the most at a rapid pace. I was also taught that the brain destroys connections that it found useless to its future when it isn't being "worked".

      Do you have any insight of how to excite growing brains or at least motivate the teachers to want to excite their students growing brains?
      • May 4 2012: My personal approach is to give them real tasks. I try to have my students find problems that are relevant to them, and sometimes they take me in directions I didn't know were on the map. Communications interests, viral studies on marine life, and a few other things. I think real life engineering will help to show students how the principles in a text book can be applied. This application will help them to remember the lesson far into the future. More importantly, it will show them where to go to get the answers to problems that don't necessarily have solutions.
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          May 4 2012: That is fascinating! I wish you could have replaced my old science teachers with you. =/
  • May 3 2012: I think the only abilities a good teacher needs is to be able to convey information in a way that everyone who is listening will understand...and patience. Just because a person is creative does not mean they can share information in a better way or even at all.
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      May 4 2012: So, it is all about the "presentation" of the teaching that makes it successful?
      • May 4 2012: I think more so the clarity of the presentation is what is successful. I also think creative people have an advantage in that they are not afraid of failure and will try different avenues but some of the best teachers I have had were the boring engineering types. They taught in the textbook type manner but understood the material so well that talking about it was easy. And of course they realized they were talking to kids that were clueless to what they knew. Maybe project management has something to do with it.
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          May 6 2012: There is some Tedx or video I've seen that talks about creativity being in all individuals, but most school systems trifle the creative mind and sends young students down the path to the "factory" way of thinking. I believe that is the RSA video I saw of:


          It should say something about schools trifling creativity....
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    May 3 2012: If there are two teachers of Math, one with thorough competency in subject matter and classroom methodology, and the other with all that plus an artistic, creative ability reflected in the lesson presentations, I have to believe the latter choice to be the better choice.
  • May 1 2012: Better questions are "How can teachers teach more creatively?". Also, "How can teachers teach analytically in ways that aren't boring". You imply artistic is a quality of the person, not of their behavior - pretty limiting.
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      May 1 2012: True Dean,

      My subject is limited because that is the scope of my mind at the time of conceiving the topic and description. I do like your idea though.

      Let's use your question. How would you answer your own question then? I am interested in looking for other perspectives. =)
      • May 1 2012: I had to buy time to think about it - but this guy's discussion of artist vs craftsman is what i had in mind when i replied: http://www.jaminjackson.com/2012/04/10/artist-vs-craftsman-how-to-avoid-another-lindy-hop-style-wars/

        In short, 'artist' creates and inspires creation, but 'craftsman' can systematize it to teach it in a way that can be picked up on and re-taught..

        A solution to making analytical teaching less boring is to ensure that the analysis enables a successful feedback cycle early on, and isn't analysis for its own sake. Break something down so pupils can play with putting it back together, adding their artistry as they go..

        What inspired the question ?