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Creative thinking takes time

  • Michael Strong

Many people are focused on the ways in which testing kills creativity in schools.  But a very different focus is that creativity requires time, time that isn't always available in schools.  In a recent interview in EdSurge, artist and educator Katie White explains, 

“How does creativity look when it’s being lived out?” Well, we want to see kids asking lots and lots of questions. We want to see students who are struggling with ambiguity and are feeling comfortable taking risks. We want to see them recover from mistakes and show engagement and investment in their products and performances. Those will be the same from class to class and experience to experience. But the context that drives creativity will be subject-specific. 

Experimentation or risk-taking in a writing class means that students generate an idea they haven’t used before, or come up with new perspectives or opinions. In a science class, risk-taking might be making a hypothesis that goes beyond the surface level and thinking about what might happen and then committing to that idea. Or it might be using less-familiar materials. This risk-taking skill looks different depending on the context."

She then goes on to explain how time is the real obstacle to cultivating creativity in schools,

"If we let kids free with great materials and good catalysts, I don’t know that they get tripped up. You have to provide physical space, emotional space and time for kids to try things and experience either success or failure. In a school environment, we’re often marching through a very content-heavy and skill-heavy curricula, which makes teachers feel pressured to move through things as quickly as possible. 

You might go through the exploration, where children are invited to generate their own questions, but then they don’t get the chance to fully search for answers and experiment and experience the creative process. We rush to the answer too quickly. 

Or maybe they have a chance to do some exploration and elaboration, but there isn’t enough time for them to express and share their work with meaningful audiences. Often their expression is in the form of handing something in to the teacher.

And then the stage that gets most short-shrifted is reflection and response. Because this is how teachers and kids can connect their creative personality, and who they’re becoming as creative individuals. They can connect past tasks to future tasks and future creative endeavors. We rarely have the time to do that reflection. The biggest enemy of creativity is time."

At ATI we value the acts of reflection and response, including sharing work with meaningful audiences.



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