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Karina Eisner

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What place does creativity have in education?

Almost every education related TED video available states or implies that creative thinking is at the center of the learning process and at the root of every breakthrough.
What place do we give creative thinking, free exploration, uncharted discovery in our current educational models?
Are the prevalent public education systems becoming a means to program the masses rather than a way to facilitate discovery, growth and self realization? Are students truly turned into useful citizens, or rather adults trained to respond to induced stimulus in predetermined ways, much like rats in the lab?
Are we afraid of where original thinking can bring us? Are we afraid of change? Are we afraid of losing control? How far are we ready to go to keep it? And do we really think creativity can be killed?

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WHAT? Stage 2 of this debate, do it!
HOW? Connecting, cooperating, organizing information, sharing our skills, giving ideas, encouraging, writing or blogging, creating a web page, reaching out to our own communities.
WHERE? New TED debate, Creativity in Action
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We can overcome geographical, language, age and political barriers. We can make a difference. Let's take the next step. Are you in?

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Closing Statement from Karina Eisner

This debate is closed, now what?

….......................................YOU ARE INVITED......................................

WHAT? Stage 2 of this debate, join us!
HOW? Connecting, cooperating, organizing information, sharing our skills,
giving ideas, encouraging, blogging, creating a web page, reaching
out to our own communities.
WHERE? New TED debate, here, Creativity in Action
WHEN? Now.

We can overcome geographical, language, age and political barriers. We can make a difference. Let's take the next step. Are you in?

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    Oct 23 2011: Karina,

    You have given me much to think about because as a high school teacher who feels that technology has allowed me to be artist that I was born to be, I would like to think that by integrating technology into my classes I am giving my kids their Creativity Back. But am I...???


    I expect creative thinking, free exploration, uncharted discovery to happen regularly in my classroom. I expect it but often do not get it. My curriculum demands that I teach my kids to read and respond but I try to leave the ways they respond up to them. I want them to create blog posts, digital stories or even PowerPoints that allow them to express their thoughts and opinions on the subject matter.

    Yes, we all know that the prevalent public education systems are merely a means to program the masses rather than a way to facilitate discovery, growth and self realization but I want to take them above and beyond the required responses. I want them to relate what they've read or seen to things that they are familiar with so that they can create links that take them out of the box.

    NO, I don't believe that we are CHURNING out useful citizens. We are making trained lab rats who give us the answers that we are looking for. I sing and dance when I get out of the box responses whether they are right or wrong. I celebrate their individuality and I try to encourage unusual responses. Many of them are not used to doing this and/or are too scared to respond so I have to fuss and complain to them in hopes of getting more out of them.

    I am not afraid of their individual thinking and often laugh when some of them complain that they want worksheets because what I am asking them to do is too hard. Creativity can be killed if the students do not see the value of it. They turn off their thoughts so that they can supply us with our thoughts. I know what I think. I want the messiness and uncertainty that their original thoughts can bring.

    It helps to keep me honest and on my toes.
    • Oct 23 2011: The reason why I believe your students are not living up to your expectation is because you must be one of the first to demand critical thinking and creativity of your students. They are used to "cutting and pasting" from a textbook to a worksheet as their homework, for that is all most teachers and the educational system usually demand of us.

      Anyway, I applaud for your attempts at incorporating creativity and critical thinking into the educational system. Don't stop trying!
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        Oct 23 2011: Thanks Alonso,

        I try to convince myself that that is the case and I am asking them to move out of their comfort zone. That's the only thing that keeps my trying. It is frustrating when they keep asking me "What is the answer?" and I keep replying "I don't know. What do you think?"

        I know that they have to be trained to think independently.
        • Oct 24 2011: Valerie, maybe you should try to spread this to the other teachers. Convince them to require critical thinking and to not care as much about the students getting the answer's right so long as they are using their brain. If the whole school starts to require critical thinking and to teach the students how to think critically and independently, your students might start to use these qualities more often. I know this is rather far-fetched, but it's worth a try. And who knows, if you get the whole school changed, it might start spreading to other schools in your district.
    • Oct 24 2011: Valerie, I sympathize for you, and it does sound frustrating.
      When you say that the students are to scared to respond, this seems to be a broken record, because I'm hearing it a lot, and noticing it in my school education.
      I have an idea that you might want to try, to get some responses that will probably shock you.
      Try to get them to react to something being anonymous. If they know that they can say something with out anyone knowing it was them, maybe you just might find the real creativeness that's in the class.
      And then see where that will take you and the students.
      The more creative you are doing this, the more you'll get creative answers, maybe.
      Instead of thinking out of the box, maybe we need to start thinking out side a bubble. A box has six sides to choose from, when a bubble has only one side, and that's out.
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        Oct 24 2011: Clever!

        :-)
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        Oct 24 2011: Dan LOVE the bubble and will probably use that in class.

        I do ask for them to do other things and sometimes I get good responses so some of them are getting it. We make photomovies, blog, wikipages, wordles,etc. Many of them see and appreciate the connections between what they normally do in class and the techie things that I ask them to do.

        Thanks everyone for your great words and advice. I will keep up the big fight and try to get them to think OUTSIDE of the bubble.
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        Oct 24 2011: One tool I have found to be effective in promoting anonymous brainstorming is Pirate Pad, a free text collaboration tool. http://piratepad.net/front-page/
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        Oct 24 2011: One tool I have found to be effective in promoting anonymous brainstorming is Pirate Pad, a free text collaboration tool. See http://piratepad.net/front-page/ Anonymity can be powerful in promoting freedom of expression in the classroom and boardroom.
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      Oct 24 2011: Valerie,
      Thanks for giving us an honest look at your daily efforts in class.

      I agree with Alonso, it is possible that the students are just not used to think out of the box. Maybe you can motivate them by finding a few original, surprising projects along the lines of what you expect.
      I'd show them something totally above their means (not, "this is what I'd like it to look like").
      Something crazy and inspiring. Something in multimedia, intercultural, international. Maybe make it yourself! A collage of the best music in the world (classical and contemporary), the best architecture, inventions, poetry, speeches, paintings, quotes, even food.

      Stimulate them by helping them REMEMBER (because it is all in there)

      Just take them for the trip of their life into what they could be!
      Stay in touch and let us know how it went :-)
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        Oct 24 2011: Karina,

        We are working on poetry now and I don't just want them to write poetry, I want them to produce poetry slam videos.

        I want them to record themselves performing poetry that they have written. Some of them will use templates to write their poems if they do not feel comfortable creating their own. I won't require them to talk on camera if they are uncomfortable. They can make voice recordings and then create screencasts with visuals to go along with ther recordings.

        Many of them are not used to recording themselves and I am trying to get them to feel comfortable by not requiring them to use the video camera, etc.

        I know that this is pseudo creativity because I am giving them the format/venue to express themselves but I am doing it in a way that allows them freedom to incorporate other aspects of their creativity. I think of it as creativity on training wheels.

        I figure that if I introduce them to enough things that are new to them that they will eventually feel empowered enough to do their own thing. We have started using Weebly for ePortfolios and Animoto for PhotoMovies and I have students who have created their own websites and photomovies to help friends and family keep in contact. I was floored.

        I will let everyone know how our work goes. Thanks for all of your comments.

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