Beginners and Creativity

Many of you have seen the Sir Ken Robinson TED talk on how education kills creativity. If you haven’t take a moment to watch it. It’s worth the 20 minutes…

I read quotes and interviews all the time about how artists and innovators try to see the world again as a child without the constraints of adult experiences and structured imaginations (via). As Picasso once said, “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” What these quotes and ideas all mean is that we start out as inquisitive, creative creatures. So, creativity is within our students’ capabilities. Somehow, it gets “taught” out of us.

Here’s another quote from Ira Glass, host of NPR’s This American Life:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through. (via nefffy)

If we want students to access their creative potentials, we have to encourage and support them. The only way to do that is plan lessons and units that value and promote creativity. We have to give them space to take risks and try things on their own. We have to trust them to pull from these creative beginnings.

Maybe if we do these things, their creativity will blossom and not falter while in our classrooms.

What are you doing to promote creativity with your students? What can we do as eductorsr so as not to limit creativity? How do you encourage students to take risks?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center.