“I’m not really that creative.”
You’ve heard that before. Kids that have said it. Teachers have said it. Administrators have said it. Even worse, people BELIEVE it. But creativity isn’t something you have or don’t have… it’s something to be cultivated, grown, encouraged, released.
When I think about school and reimagine it, it’s a place where everyone involved embraces the creative spirit. No, not everyone loves to make big messes and create stuff every second of the day, but EVERYONE loves for their voice to be heard, for their ideas to be embraced, for the chance to solve, think differently, and DO something driven from their own ideas.
Cardboard, coding, iPads, laptops, duct tape, paper circuits, robotics, conductive thread, and sewing machines… ALL tools. But these tools will mean nothing without the most powerful tool of all to be unleashed… human creativity.
Schools cannot continue to only celebrate basketball wins or football goals. Schools must shout creative success from the rooftops, too.
Creativity doesn’t have to cost a dime. It’s not something your school can “afford” to add in. It’s honestly something we can no long “afford” to leave out.
It doesn’t matter if your school has a HUGE makerspace, a 3d printer, a curriculum of fine arts that may have been pushed aside… YOU can bring creativity into every day starting now. Get a pile of cardboard together for your classroom. Instead of writing book reports one more time, build something to solve a characters problem. Instead of reading about how electricity works, design a cardboard house and then use LED lights and copper tape to wire it up! Small things can open big doors for kids.
Perhaps the biggest irony in American education is that in “No Child Left Behind,” we pushed to get all kids to succeed through testing practices… and in the process we left behind kids who want to build, design, make, create. Kids who are starving for opportunity. And in the process, we left behind our ability to stay competitive as a nation of problem solvers, designers, and innovators. We celebrated scores over solving, and we ruined something about learning in the process.
Now we are desperate to get creativity back. It won’t be from an iPad, from coding, or even from building a maker space. Those are great tools to get started with. But the real fire will come when we fan the flames of creativity and unleash it in our schools. Like, right now. And that has to come from us and from our kids. Anything less underestimates the power of human creativity.
And that? It would be our biggest mistake in reimagining education.