Creativity Matters wants students to use imagination
Applicants for even the most technical jobs need more than good grades and the ability to understand complex problems, says a group of business leaders who want to add another essential to the list of things kids learn in school: Creativity.
“A flexible, adaptive, lifelong learner who can think creatively and solve problems and frame problems creatively. That’s what everybody’s looking for,” says Eric Liu, the motivational speaker and mentoring guru who is the driving force behind a new Washington organization called Creativity Matters.
The business people involved in this government-sanctioned but privately financed enterprise say Liu has hit upon an interesting and important concept, but some acknowledge they’re slightly baffled about how it will be accomplished.
Can you even teach creativity in the classroom?
In hopes of getting a positive answer, the group is launching an “imagination award” in partnership with a New York organization that’s pursuing a similar goal.
Students need to be taught to use their imaginations to solve problems, to connect the dots, Liu said. Good teachers are already doing this, he added, but the idea needs to be given a higher priority, and project-based and experiential learning should replace some book work and tests.
Liu cited Aviation High School, a magnet school near Boeing Field south of Seattle as a place where this is happening all the time. Students are learning math and science and other subjects by learning about flying airplanes, studying weather, aviation law and the aerospace industry.
From building an airplane as a class project to internships in the aviation industry, students apply their classroom knowledge to real world experiences.
It’s important to teach children both how to think and that there are different ways to think, says Bob Drewel, a former president of Everett Community College who now runs the Puget Sound Regional Council, an association of local governments.
Public education may have to change to make room for more creativity, Drewel said, adding that teachers aren’t always given the time or the freedom to use their creative energy in a way that inspires children.
Drewel, whose wife was a teacher for 32 years, said education officials may need to start listening better to teachers when they suggest other ways to teach subjects. He said class size may also be an obstacle to creativity.
Regarding how to teach creativity in the classroom, Drewel said explaining how to do this is a little like describing what kind of art, music or poetry a person admires. He recognizes good teaching when he sees it but wouldn’t be able to give teachers a list of ways to teach creativity.
The website for the new Creativity Matters organization takes a stab at such a list. The ideas range from turning students into teachers to playing interactive games and making sure mistakes are acceptable in the classroom.
The organization’s first initiative will be a partnership with the Lincoln Center Institute of New York to start an “imagination award” to recognize a public school that best demonstrates the spirit of imagination and creativity.
for more information