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Real Creativity

After viewing two TED talks videos on creativity by Amy Tan and Tim Brown, I’ve been thinking about creativity, real creativity.  The kind that comes when posed with a problem that doesn’t really have a readily available solution.  I’ve been wondering if I’m actually teaching my students to be creative.  My conclusion?  I think I’m limiting myself and them.

I’m at that point in my career, where I haven’t been teaching long enough to be considered a veteran teacher, but I’m not a novice either.  I’m kind of in teacher limbo.  For those of you at this mid-point you know exactly what I mean. Things have changed enough for us to be able to say, “When I started teaching…” but not so much that when I started teaching I considered the slide projector and the mimeograph technology.

What does this have to do with creativity?  Rhythms and patterns. You find yourself sliding into a certain pattern without realizing, and even when you think you’re being innovative, you find that somehow you’re really just updating something you did before.  Here’s an example.  My students are writing travel journals and posting these journals, along with pictures and links into their own original Google Maps.  It sounds like a great activity, and it is, but that’s the problem.  It’s really only an activity. They aren’t inventing anything new, or using their knowledge to create something from nothing (Tan).  And I haven’t really created a new opportunity, because I’ve had students create travel brochures in the past, the only difference is the format.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they’re learning how to use Google Maps, they’ll probably take what I am showing them and do all kinds of unexpected things at home when they have the time to play.  I know too that someone has to introduce them to a tool so they can explore it’s possibilities and apply it to new situations, but I need to start thinking about how to move that creative play into the classroom in order to provide opportunities to make things happen rather than just make things.

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