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Why is creative teaching a challenge for many teachers? How can we help teachers embrace the notion of creativity in their teaching?

Creativity is something that can be used to make learning fun and more interesting. However, many teachers find this challenging. Many teachers have lesson plans and ideas that they use from year to year without change. They do not include any creativity and are not interesting. We need to figure out a way to make learning fun; therefore help teachers take back their creative sides and bring them into the classroom through their lessons.

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  • Apr 26 2014: Send them back to school. Lack of education is what is wrong with education. Unions have no business in education, they should be judged individually buy their merit and results, not by their endurance. Education is not a race, it should be an ever improving organism (living, striving and in constant rebirth) just as the world around it is. There are way to many people restricting teachers and not near enough people asking how can I help you, starting with parents and ending with lawyers. Last and biggest problem in the world is our education is being turned over to corporations who's bottom line is profit at all costs. The cost is quickly becoming turning our kids into slaves for the corporation and that is a pretty big cost. Last if not least the curriculum has not changed in centuries but the world has. Most of what teachers are expected to teach is not just worthless information, a lot of it is simply wrong or no longer relevant.
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    • May 1 2014: Yes, we should teach math using environmental factors. Students should be taught to use their surroundings to help them understand math. I also agree that we should be teaching all cultures and the challenges each culture has been through. Students need to learn about the world around them. They are kept in a bubble and are not taught current events and about the environment.
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    Apr 30 2014: Hi Katie,
    I believe creative teaching is a challenge for some educators because they have learned certain methods of teaching, which become easier and easier with repetition.....as you insightfully recognize....they sometimes use the same lesson plans and ideas for years without change.

    In order to change that pattern, teachers need to be creative in themselves. It is very difficult to teach and encourage creativity, when one does not recognize and use it in his/her self. That being said, teachers could become more aware of what they might learn from their students:>)

    I totally agree with you that learning and teaching can be fun and interesting, and those are the creative elements one needs to bring to the experience. How to do this? Convince teachers to explore their own creativity with interest and joy, and then they might be able to bring that to THEMSELVES and the STUDENTS.......win/win situation for all concerned:>)
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    Apr 28 2014: Modern education trend insist on documenting every action in education and it's the first step we can skip, if we want creative education process. So do not insist on documenting, and let teachers do their work- TEACH the children. Also, we could invest more in education (it's never enough for investment into it) and then creativity would not be on 'status quo'.
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      Apr 30 2014: exactly! as an old colleague of mine used to say: "you can't fatten a pig by weighing it".
    • May 1 2014: I agree. Enough with the documenting. It takes away time from the students if we need to document everything they are doing throughout the school day. Teachers should just TEACH the students. Now the government is making teaching much harder than it should be. Just let teachers educate the students.
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    Apr 27 2014: creativity is a buzzword and it drives me batty to see it bandied about so much in the education sector. the blame lies squarely on the shoulders of Ken Robinson.

    you cannot teach creativity - the minute you try to pin it down, it becomes a process.

    you can, however, provide space and time for it to happen.

    of course, this will be quickly stamped to death by most assessment methods and systems. instead of talking about teachers incorporating creativity into their program, it would far more beneficial and achievable to discuss the ways to make assessment more flexible and wider in scope. that is where the creativity conundrum really lies.

    learning should be engaging but it should also be hard work.

    ps. creativity may involve technology but never at the beginning..

    (from a grumpy ex-teacher) :)
    • May 1 2014: what is to be done?
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        May 1 2014: change needs to happen in the attitudes of the policy makers.

        currently, schools are embracing ICT and all of the change that that requires and allows. but schools are also coping with bureaucrats and politicians who insist on traditional collecting of empirical evidence.

        this has little to do with the students and learning and everything to do with funding and accountability.

        of course, the more pressure parent and teacher communities can put on government to change their attitudes and approaches, the better.

        at the moment, ICT in schools is akin to a spaceship pulling a plow.
        • May 1 2014: Thanks for the reply. I was wondering if you had heard of the phrase: what you resist, persists. I believe it was Jung. I've considered the possibility that we have been focusing on the wrong population......in seeking beuracratic and leadership change. We have, essentially been talking to wardens and asking for change. Change often emerges from the demands of the inmates themselves. Perhaps students are the desired target audience to spark Mr Robinson's Education Revolution. You don't even have to tell students what to do. Simply tell them what is being DONE......to them. Acknowledging and sitting painfully deep with what IS will often lead to transformation.

          These are just ramblings. Great night.
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        May 1 2014: it's certainly a complex issue but there is a serious dialogue going on around the world about change in education.

        what i will say is that, in my experience, education-folk are geared towards embracing change - it's not usually a smooth ride but at least there is a willingness to "bring it on".
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    Apr 26 2014: what to you would constitute creative teaching?
    • Apr 28 2014: This statement, to me, is the crux of this conversation. Because it is simplistic in nature and really gets to the heart of "what do you mean?" To many people throw out phrases like this and do not back it up with supporting evidence.

      Great Question Greg.
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        Apr 30 2014: thanx, Everett. I remember once I had a teacher who was a little boring and dry in lecturing, but one day she got inspired and started moving around a lot while lecturing instead of standing in one place, you know, she was walking up and down the aisles while talking. It perked me up, I hope it perked up the other students. But the next class she was back to the same old way, just standing in one place and talking.
        • Apr 30 2014: And for other students Greg, it probably annoyed them that she was moving around and such. As a teacher, I have seen the rounds of ways to make teachers "more creative" or "better teachers". A lot of it is bells and whistles, or smoke and mirrors, but amounting to nothing much.

          Good solid teaching really hasn't changed for decades. But, that doesn't mean that it is creative in some peoples eyes. Or that creative teaching is good teaching or anything more than entertainment.
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        Apr 30 2014: to me it seems like the place where a teacher could really show creativity is discussion, class discussion, because that's open as to what you can communicate and how you communicate it?
        • Apr 30 2014: Also how you set those discussions up. What topics you discuss. How you load the question at the beginning is hugely important to the discussion as well. If you ask boring questions, you get boring discussions. But ask an interesting or potentially scandalous question, and the students become engage.

          Or, what activities you use. Written tests are the baseline for most programs. But projects, presentations, demonstrations, etc. that engage the student in something interesting make learning not only fun but allow the STUDENT to be creative within the constructs of the class. It just takes a little work on the part of the teacher but pays dividends over the long term.

          The challenge to this, the students must take written tests and require them to not think creatively for answers. So, a creative teacher with higher level thinking projects may not prepare the students for rote level tests and be considered not as good due to test scores.
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        Apr 30 2014: well, what one wonders about is the students that don't do so well in the class. Perhaps there is a way the teacher could use some kind of creativity to stimulate them and help them do well?
        • May 1 2014: Greg, I see your point. Having taught for several years, I can tell you that there is no single right answer to stimulating students to do well.

          Sometimes the issue is conflicts with the teacher on a personal level. Sometimes it is conflicts with the students. Sometimes a simple lack of motivation or interest. Sometimes the subject matter is boring. Sometimes the student is bored because the content is actually below him or her. Sometimes the child is in basic survival mode and school really isn't as important as "where am I going sleep and what am I going to eat tonight?"

          I absolutely agree that teachers need to think and work creatively to meet the needs of the students and stimulate their learning. And good teachers I know do that. But even the best teachers I have met struggle with some students for a variety of reasons even with the best practices in place.

          I would qualify this with academic struggling, meaning the student is challenged by the content, is far different than struggling to survive at home which affects school. Two very different issues which need to be addressed separately.

          But yes, I believe that teachers can work creatively with their subject matter to increase the interest in their students through whatever means are available. And also that some teachers should do more.
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    Apr 30 2014: Katie, We often give teachers to much credit / blame. The place to look for the answer is not always where we think it is. There are many factors challenging teachers in the current system. First we must admit as you state that there are some who just ain't got it. However, for those who do they have hoops that are higher and smaller than ever before that they must jump through.

    Textbook writers and test developers are the real power. Along with the text comes a daily schedule for presentation. Teachers are expected to follow this as it "will prepare" the child for successful completion of the high stakes test that follows. Administrators are tasked to ensure that this is followed. Here is what is at stake: Teachers evaluations are dependent upon following the instructions and their evaluation will depend on that and the student score on the high stakes testing. Schools get a grade on the overall score of the test. Administrators are tied to that score. The final factor is the federal government interference in this process ... they tell the states what, when, and where any deviation / failure means the state will see a budget cut in education funding.

    The end result is survival of the teachers and administrators ... some cheat ... but for most it is teach the test and teach the test some more. Making a class fun or even a learning experience is not very high on the list when faced with survival.

    It is easy to trace this all back to the top ... it is the GOLDEN RULE ... He who has the gold rules ... in this caes it is the federal government .. and they use the threat of withholding funds unless you obey.

    Talk to your administrators, teachers, and legislators ... get the real picture ... find out what you can do ... and get involved.

    The authorities in my area know me ... and it ain't all kisses and candy. I challange them .... so should you.

    I'm guessing you are a student.

    I wish you well. Bob.
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    Apr 30 2014: I believe that in teaching we have the same problem as in advertising. After all, the purpose is the same: to remember. Therefore, in advertising industry, the technology is a mean to an end and the same situation should be also in teaching. I believe that creativity is a small aspect that has to be considered but the strategy should start from behaviours . Kids love beautiful people. Their parents also. Kids love to play. Their parents also. Kids love to watch TV. Their parents also. Kids love to get involved in different things and their parents sometimes disagree. And here comes technology and gathers all those aspects everybody loves and makes them useful by compiling everything they love, removing everything they hate and revealing everything they have to learn.
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    Apr 30 2014: the issue here does not lie with the teacher. that is a tired, old political football of an attitude and when people lay blanket blame on teachers, they are showing their ignorance of how education systems operate.

    the Creativity Conundrum (as I like to term it for all the buzzword consumers out there) lies squarely with Assessment Practice. this stems from deeper issues than a perceived lack of teacher ability to teach creativity.

    Creativity cannot be taught but I suspect that that is not what people mean when they talk about this issue.

    But allowing students to be creative in their approach to a task can be provided for, given the right circumstances.

    the internet has allowed for instant access to a lot of information that ranges from utter rubbish through to highly accurate and relevant information. but that alone does not provide direction or purpose.

    multi-media and ICT now allows for students to work in a variety of ways in a media that appeals to them (video, audio, text, slide-show).

    ultimately, the real problem lies with tradition - both in attitudes and with assessment practice.

    in New Zealand, we have a brilliant curriculum document that is rendered almost ineffective by a return (thanks to our current government) to archaic standardised testing.

    the curriculum document takes a child-centred, key competencies approach, meaning that the focus is on the student and developing the critical thinking skills required across the curriculum.

    here's a link:

    http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum

    for me, when assessment practice becomes more flexible and wider in scope, that is when we will see curriculum delivery becoming less prescribed and able to allow for more creative approaches to teaching and learning.
  • Apr 30 2014: Katie,

    Forgot to mention that much of today's education is based upon very poor evidence of effectiveness. One prime example is that the student is the client. The student is more importantly the product.
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    Apr 29 2014: We might find one great teacher in a thousand - it's not easy for avarage teachers to be creative.. They just try to follow the usual routine. It is the main problem - the majority of teachers do not know how to recognize a student's real talent and encorage it, most likely they would suppress it.
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      Apr 30 2014: this is simply not true. no teacher i have ever met in my life has actively sought to suppress a student's talents.

      many people confuse having knowledge with being able to teach.

      in most modern schools, a teacher's job is to manage logistics with severely limited time and resources and deliver a prescribed curriculum while remaining mindful of the enormous millstone that is assessment practice, which is usually cited as being vitally important as "evidence" and enforced from much higher up the hierarchy than the teachers.
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        Apr 30 2014: Scott: Well, the majority of teachers cannot jump over their officially controlled limits. I've met only two or three of them who have encouraged me to think for myself beyond the program, also to read those books with alternative concepts and vision. It was a blessing for me..
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          Apr 30 2014: to be fair, a teacher is not paid to defy their legal obligations and dishonoring the job contract they sign.

          it's good that there is a call for change in schools because you are right, it is not acceptable as things stand.

          but it pays to keep in mind that most teachers don't start their career with the aim of becoming administrators. i would argue that teachers are affected just as badly by the system as students.

          practically, there needs to be a seismic change to education. it will be painfully slow but it has started.

          it is hard to defy the system and last 40 years in the job. As a teacher, I pride myself on questioning the system at every turn and focusing on knowing my students as people. But doing that, I can only last a couple of years then I have to get out, eventually returning for another go. and so the cycle goes.

          it's not the kids or the parents who drive me away. it's not my colleagues or the content I deliver that turns me off. it is the bureaucracy and administration. the endless accountability-in-triplicate that does nothing to improve the real-time, real-life classroom moment, standardised testing holding all else back, including the freedom of scope that people keep calling "creativity".

          i know the truly inspiring teachers are one in a thousand but that kind of inspiration requires a connection that it is just not possible to have with all students -it depends on more than just professional competence.
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        Apr 30 2014: You must be a wonderful teacher, Scott. Very rare.

        I was a stident most of my life dreaming that some day I'd walk into that ancient Forum where teachers dared students to think for themselves and ask questions beyond standard beliefs.

        In our crazy postmodern world it is immensely difficult to change existing systems for the better, especially when they are so gigantic. I think that making some steps towards creating alternative systems would be more productive... I believe that every class needs to experience mutual co-existence just like a small human society, and a teacher's main role would be to help every young person find the very best within him/ner.

        My relative who is a scholar writes his book on logic in math saying that he's dedicating it to all "stupid" students..

        Let me get back to you later tonight, I'd like to share with my unusual experience in my science college. Are you a music teacher?
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          Apr 30 2014: best teacher i had was a lecturer at teacher's college. he came in to replace our regular lecturer who was out observing students in schools.

          completely unorthodox and all about critical thinking rather than prescribed processes and linear learning.

          he completely bamboozled some of the other student who did not seem to comprehend his approach or what he wanted us to do - he gave us some simple, open-ended questions to answer. the kicker being that there was no one, single answer. it really stumped and irked people. i loved it and came at the question deliberately, from an unusual angle.

          i agree with your statement about changing large systems - what we need are coal-face teachers making the policy decisions as well as parents and some of the older students still in schools.

          i fight it from the inside, undermining the idiocy i see built in to the system. but as i say, it wears you down to constantly battle the environment you work in.

          i now have a perfect balance between music (my band) and day-to-day relief teaching.

          i love throwing out ideas and polarising statements to try and force the kids to challenge their own perceptions of the world (built heavily on TV programs and adverts!).

          i don't know about being wonderful but i have had several lovely moments where kids i have taught come back briefly into my life and let me know that i had a positive affect on them.

          it's a doozy of a job but the kids are just great. so much more open and fresher in their thinking than adults.
  • Apr 29 2014: Katie,

    1. Take a look at how we train teachers. Lesson plans and some really tie down to the minute what happens in class (being a little facisius)
    2. Take a look at how we train teachers - teach to the middle of the class, sometimes not even that but the lower middle of the class.
    3. Teachers are teaching to a test - I do not think it is necessary.

    I think educators want to make teaching a formulaic system where the teacher learn the formula and the ability to apply the formula. If they do that, they are good or great teacher. Unfortunately, teaching, imho, is an art form and a communication art, not a formula.

    So how can we change it:i

    1. Teachers need to realize they are performing and it is an improvisational performance - interact but within a certain framework.
    2. Teachers need to teach to what they expect the students to perform, also make it as individual as possible.
    3. Teachers should teach the material and not to a test but what the students need to be ready for the future subjects.
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      Apr 30 2014: blaming the teachers for teaching the way they do in current ed systems is like blaming a fish for swimming instead of flying through the ocean.

      take your own knowledge on a favourite subject and think about how you might impart that knowledge or set of skills.

      now make that 30 people instead of just one and ensure that you cater for all the different learning styles they have. also add another 5-7 subjects to also teach. restrict your time severely and make sure you provide all the appropriate and correct paperwork detailing your planning, assessment and reflection for each of those lessons.

      in response to your suggestions:

      1. teachers are not performers. they have skills to teach and consolidate as well as information to impart. note: teachers are not free to select what they teach and what they don't teach. students who want to be entertained should watch History channel and prepare to be dumbed down.

      2 & 3 are correct - but it is not teachers who determine the assessment practice of a country, nation, state or even a school.

      you have identified the problem - assessment practice. unfortunately, this is not something that is decided on at a classroom level but in the halls of government. these politicians don't want to know about individual achievement. they want to know about expenditure and the black and white evidence that shows "value for money".
      • Apr 30 2014: Scott,

        I think we will have to agree to disagree on point 1. Admittedly, my thoughts are based on anecdotal information, observing teachers that many people thought were great and interviews with these individuals. Almost all were involved with performing arts outside of the classroom and many said they felt like they were performing in front of the students and changing the plan depending on the response of the students.
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          May 1 2014: performing arts outside the classroom certainly bestows more freedom than delivering prescribed core subjects to a classroom of students who may or may not want to be there.

          i think you will find that when somebody pursues an interest outside of school, there is an inherent interest to begin with.

          of course, all of the arts (for me) are far more interesting and engaging than English, Math and Reading.

          ultimately, we need attitudes towards school to change (in a realistic way) as well as government coming to the party and loosening their grip on infrastructure and accountability. but i have a feeling that we'll never be completely rid of the people in grey and their infernal clipboards.

          i feel lucky to teach in New Zealand as our classroom practice seems to be more flexible than what I have heard about some of the States. but we still have our share of old school, administrative junk clogging up the way things are done.
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    Apr 28 2014: Why is creative teaching a challenge for many teachers? How can we help teachers embrace the notion of creativity in their teaching?

    The challenge in creative teaching lies more on the students than the teachers. In a class of twenty students and one teacher, there are twenty one interpretations of creative teaching.
    • Apr 29 2014: Francisco,

      Could you expand on your thoughts? The teacher sets the framework within which the class works. The creativity is setting that framework. How do the students affect that framework?
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        Apr 29 2014: Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified seven distinct intelligences. This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and "documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways," according to Gardner (1991). According to this theory, "we are all able to know the world through language, logical-mathematical analysis, spatial representation, musical thinking, the use of the body to solve problems or to make things, an understanding of other individuals, and an understanding of ourselves. Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences - the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains."

        Gardner says that these differences "challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well." Gardner argues that "a contrasting set of assumptions is more likely to be educationally effective. Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students - and perhaps the society as a whole - would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means." The learning styles are as follows:
        1) Visual-Spatial
        2) Bodily-kinesthetic
        3) Musical
        4) Interpersonal
        5) Intrapersonal
        6) Linguistic
        7) Logical -Mathematical

        http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html
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        Apr 29 2014: David A. Kolb's model is based on the Experiential learning Theory, as explained in his book Experiential Learning. The ELT model outlines two related approaches toward grasping experience: Concrete Experience and Abstract Conceptualization, as well as two related approaches toward transforming experience: Reflective Observation and Active Experimentation. According to Kolb's model, the ideal learning process engages all four of these modes in response to situational demands. In order for learning to be effective, all four of these approaches must be incorporated. As individuals attempt to use all four approaches, however, they tend to develop strengths in one experience-grasping approach and one experience-transforming approach. The resulting learning styles are combinations of the individual's preferred approaches. These learning styles are as follows:

        David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model (ELM)

        → Concrete Experience ↓
        Active Experimentation Reflective Observation
        ↑ Abstract Conceptualization ←

        1. Accommodators: Concrete Experience + Active Experiment
        "Hands-on" and concert
        Wants to do
        Discovery method
        Sets objectives/schedules
        Asks questions fearlessly
        Challenges theories
        Adaptable
        Receive information from others
        Gut feeling rather than logic

        2. Converger: Abstract Conceptualization + Active Experiment
        "Hands-on" and theory
        Analogies
        Specific problems
        Tests hypothesis
        Best answer
        Works alone
        Problem solving
        Technical over interpersonal

        3. Diverger: Concrete Experience + Reflective Observation
        Real life experience and discussion
        Imaginative
        More than one possible solution
        Brainstorming and groupwork
        Observe rather than do
        Alternatives
        Background information

        4. Assimilator: Abstract Conceptualization + Reflective Observation
        Theories and facts
        Theoretical models and graphs
        Talk about rationale rather than do
        Lectures
        Numbers
        Defines problems
        Logical Formats
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles
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        Apr 29 2014: Learning Modalities
        "Sensory preferences influence the ways in which students learn ... Perceptual preferences affect more than 70 percent of school-age youngsters" (Dunn, Beaudry, & Klavas, 1989, p. 52). There are three Learning Modalities adapted from Barbe, Swassing, and Milone:
        1. Visual style
        2. Auditory style
        3. Tactile (Kinesthetic) style
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_styles

        It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein
        http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/a/alberteins122147.html#UQDqkY1L3GhAdy8o.99

        THE MOST INTERNALLY-MOTIVATED SELF-DIRECTED STUDENT IS THE ONE THAT LEARNS THE MOST, REGARDLESS OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES IN THE CLASSROOM. MOST OF GOOD EDUCATION IS LEARNED OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM. FFM
        • Apr 30 2014: Francisco,

          Thanks for the list of unproven theories and unproven proposed approaches. Unfortunately, we need longitudinal studies to prove or disprove the process and theories. I was looking for your thoughts and I assume the all caps comment is your opinion. I agree a self motivated student is great but ask yourself how does this student become self motivated

          1. By parents, best example is Abraham Lincoln who was motivated by both of his mothers.
          2. By a great creative teacher - see your quote from Albert Einstein

          The discussion I believe is how to get more great creative teachers -
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        May 1 2014: Creative teaching is possible when the teacher has 1) mastery of the subject matter, 2) the necessary materials and equipment to present the subject, 3) the right elements for collaboration and exploration of the subject, 4) the kind of students who are open to the infinite possibilities of learning.

        Iowa State University has an excellent article:

        Creative teaching

        "In order to teach creativity, one must teach creatively; that is, it will take a great deal of creative effort to bring out the most creative thinking in your classes. Of course, creativity is not the only required element for creative instructors. They must also know their fields and know how to create an appropriate learning environment. When will it be most important for you to offer direct instruction? When is discovery most important? What are your expectations and how can you best communicate them?

        Because answers to these questions are so diverse — even for individual instructors teaching different courses or at various times of the semester — no one technique will fit all needs. Here are several approaches or techniques for teaching creatively, both general and specific to certain fields. More examples of field-specific approaches or techniques appear in the Creative teachers section." http://www.celt.iastate.edu/creativity/techniques.html
        • May 2 2014: Francisco,

          Thanks for the paper. I think I read almost the same paper on decision processes in HBR about 30 years ago. It is interesting that some of the techniques are now considered bad, like brainstorming and the fish bone technique (it was used in 6 sigma a lot).

          I agree with what you wrote and great teachers listen to the students and the parents. My daughter had a very good 2nd grade teacher who really believed in hands on teaching which led to a not as structured class. One student could not handle the "semi-structure" and the teacher realized his method and personality could hurt the student. He discussed it with the principal, another teacher and the parents. They transferred the student to another class that was more structured and traditional. Both students did well, my daughter and her friend, who was the other student, did very well.
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      Apr 30 2014: this question always conjures up slightly ridiculous images for me - the teacher skipping to school shaking bells and wearing a jester hat, pulling faces and cartwheels while allowing free internet surfing for all students who will, of course, be creating their own curriculum and wallowing in creativity all the live long day.

      the creativity conundrum lies within the system, not with individual teachers, specifically with assessment practice and also with the logistical constraints of the school day.

      you can be engaging, and all good teachers are, but teaching is not holding court on stage, peppering your "lecture" with a few puns and jokes (like a certain Ken Robinson). in fact, a good teacher is not the one who talks a lot but one who runs an organised and effective classroom that best utilises the limited time and resources available.

      check out the New Zealand curriculum document for a fantastic example of child-centred, competencies/skill based approach to teaching and learning (it's a dull read for anyone not actually in the teaching game).

      http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum
      • May 2 2014: Scott,

        Thanks for the link - I scanned the site. There are several areas which I needed to login which stopped me. I liked the examples of the standards but I was looking for examples on the approach teaching these standards. Did NZ implement the standard all grades at once or phase them in over time, i.e. year 1 - the 1st year std, ...,year 13 - the 13th year std?
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          May 2 2014: do you mean the National Standards? these are no good. yet another layer of redundant bureaucracy for the sake of a system still mired in 20th Century technology and 19th Century assessment practice.

          the standards were foisted on schools in the worst way by a government who remain largely ignorant and uncaring about education beyond its value as a political football at election time.

          national standards are artificial in the worst way. they are used, and can only be used, as scoreboards for schools. they were completely unnecessary in terms of data gathering and have failed at every turn to be anything more than a political lump in the throat of education. mind you, our current ministers clearly view schools as little more than potential laundering sites for corporate welfare - the ICT industry being the main one to benefit.

          the curriculum document is the real value on that site.
  • Apr 28 2014: If you are in the United States teaching, you have moved into a time when all children WILL meet standards according to the national government. Those standards, set by the national government. If they don't meet it, your job is in danger.

    I worked with teachers who do try and teach about creativity and creatively. However, if it is not tied to a standard or doesn't increase the likelihood of students passing a test, it is less valuable and the system thinks it not necessary. I mean, who really cares if a kid can do something creatively if it can't be tied to standards and it doesn't raise test scores?

    That being said, I also work with teachers who are teaching in incredibly creative ways. They keep the interest of the students and get their point across. They draw out the unique characteristics of the students.

    I would echo Greg's question though, "What do you mean by creativity?" or, how do you know students are not having fun in school?
    • May 1 2014: It is sad that test scores are the most important thing we look at. Kindergarten used to be where students had fun doing arts and crafts, along with learning how to spell and learn their numbers. However, now they are learning how to add numbers and rarely do crafts. I do believe that some teachers teacher in creative ways. They use pinterest for ideas to be more creative.
      I guess by creativity, I mean not using worksheets. When I go into the classroom I see so many worksheets. I understand worksheets help students practice a skill they learned, but I feel students can practice skills in a more creative way. Worksheets are boring! I am not saying students are not having fun in school, but I feel learning can be made more exciting. Technology can be added to the school day perhaps to make it more fun.
      • May 1 2014: I don't have the article citation, so I apologize for that, but not long ago, I read an article speaking to the issue of how Kindergarten is what 1st/2nd grade was not that long ago. The stakes are higher, the academic load is higher, and the demands are higher. On 5 - 7 year olds for gosh sake!

        Some places don't even require kids to enter school until age 7. You can't teach creatively using arts and crafts when you are required to academically prep these kids for higher grades. The ability to teach creatively is sucked from you.

        I agree that worksheets are boring. But they have a place. So do arts and crafts, technology, even pinterest. But just using those don't mean that the teaching is creative.

        If you are speaking to the issue of allowing the child to be more creative in their schooling, then you are speaking to a different issue entirely. The issue that academics, not whole child growth, drives education in many places in the world.

        I agree with you that kindergarten should be fun for students.
  • Apr 27 2014: I am not a teacher.

    The quality and quantity of information that teachers present to students in a classroom is quite controlled. There are standards of learning (SOL) objectives that are to achieved at each grade level, determined by people outside the classroom. Going into every class, there are different levels of student understanding of this material and other related material, and different student capabilities. Apart from material taught, there are different levels of student maturity, personal ethics, beliefs about acceptable conduct, and cultural values, most of which are reflections of home and social environment outside the classroom. There are a set of behavior rules that are well defined. Adherence to these rules is being constantly interpreted by students, teachers, parents, administrators, and sometimes the general public. The first line of judgement about successful interpretation of these rules occurs in the classroom. These judgements are very keenly reviewed for fairness by everyone involved, and other teachers, often from information delivered by a child.

    All these things require teachers to create a balance that meets all student needs, complies with administrative requirements, and allows them to keep a safe and friendly learning environment for all children. Personal decisions about how to do this creatively involve professional risk, so now the question becomes.'How do Teachers accomplish these must do things and still inject creativity that will be supported by all people reviewing the process?' and 'Is the risk worth the potential benefit?'

    Were I to do this, and a lesson plan that was recommended or that worked last year existed, I would certainly start there. I would then adapt it to new material changes and admin policies.

    This is were I would start looking for creative solutions and tailoring to individual student needs (all 30 of them equally).

    How creatively do they teach their own children? Perhaps a good comparison.
    • May 1 2014: I enjoyed your suggestion about stating with a lesson from the prior year that worked and adapting it to new material changes, admin policies and also the students. I can't seem to understand how "older" teachers use lessons year after year because the students learning styles are all different. You need to take what words, but put a different spin on it each year based on the needs of your students.
      • May 1 2014: Evolution not revolution in teaching makes sense to me. Older teachers may use the same lessons with the idea that they are proven and effective and meeting both the academic and administrative challenges of the school system, in addition to being familiar. Familiar lessons might be used with more confidence and greater effectiveness in delivery. New is often good, but old is not always bad.

        I think teachers are some of the most creative people I know, but they must function in a highly bureaucratic environment that prizes fairness, low cost, and uniform/commonality of teaching methods and messages over creative tailored solutions for individual students. Teachers sill manage to find ways to bring creativity to the classroom, but it is an effort that involves acceptance of the personal risk associated with doing so more than any lack of creative capability in my opinion.

        I was thinking if you watched how they chose to teach their own children, you may see what they think is the most effective method once all the administrative constraints have been removed. With this information you can then make real decisions about administratively accepting some additional risk to gain teaching effectiveness. However, in listening to the stories on TV about preventing administrators from being able to apply common sense to school rules, I do no think that that the school system has a taste for much risk acceptance, whatever the benefit.
  • Apr 27 2014: Katie

    Creativity seems to, already, be an important part of the daily curriculum in our schools. A teacher, in Houston TX, is reported to have given a 13 year old boy a lap dance in front of the rest of the class, as a birthday gift. There are weekly reports of teacher misconduct with students across the country ranging from elementary education through college level.
    Before we encourage any more creativity we should concentrate on achieving quality in our educational system, We are already at a third world country status in academics. Perhaps, it would be a good idea if we concentrated on learning and not so much fun.
  • Apr 26 2014: Creative teaching is "a challenge for many teachers" because kids reject information if they think it's irrelevant. Remember? It doesn't have to be fun. It has to be relevant to either get to college, if they want to go! Or just useful to a young human being. We can't "help teachers embrace the notion of creativity in their teaching" when they are already aware that no amount of fun will make it relevant. Fortunately, justice is making it more relevant.
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    Apr 26 2014: I think teachers shy away from creative teaching because they are scared to experiment - they have found a method that they think works, and that the school system accepts, and they have been using it for years and they are satisfied with the mediocre results it produces. To try something new presents the risk of being wrong, making a fool of themselves and needing to do more work. Also, syllabi are often designed in limiting ways - teachers feel that too much material in too little time leaves little room for anything more than the force-feeding of information.

    What we can do to change that is develop the system to encourage creative teaching. Expose teachers to different kinds of information delivery, whether through games, spoken word poetry, rapping, motivational speakers, puzzles and riddles, and expose them to these unique (and often very much more effective) means of educating and communicating theory and ideas.

    They should be encouraged to make use of resources beyond the prescribed textbooks - there are wonderful and incredibly engaging educational resources available online that they could be using in their classrooms.

    Teachers need to also be trained to teach in interesting ways - they should be taught the skills of persuasive public speaking, encouraged to communicate their passion for the subject and the subject's relevance and impact in the real world. They should be taught how to present theory in exciting ways - for example, by beginning with the extraordinary impact of the solution a scientist found and then unraveling the story of how they were able to reach that world-changing conclusion. Or by beginning by posing a question and eliciting answers and then helping students to use the theory to solve the problem themselves.

    The crux of the problem is the limiting environment we create for teachers - one that is so focused on the results and not the students' actual engagement and love for the subject. We need to redefine educational success.
    • May 1 2014: I totally agree with you. I think teachers are scared to try something new and get caught up in a rut. They find something that works and continue it until they retire. This can be boring for the students if the teacher is not keeping up with changing times. It can also be harmful to the students if the teacher does not change the lesson based on the new Common Core Standards. However, I do feel it more of a challenge to be creative with the Common Core Standards because students are expected to learn certain material in a certain period of time, so how can they be really creative in the classroom?