Teaching Creativity in the Classroom

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Creativity is such an important part of any learning experience. This lesson will help you feel comfortable with your own creativity and will give you some ideas for incorporating opportunities for creative growth into your classroom.

Being Creative

Most of us agree that creativity is important. It is what drives inventors and artists to do good work, and creativity is important for problem-solving on a daily basis. Maybe even more importantly, being creative means having an interesting mind, and it can simply make quality of life higher for any individual.

Yet creativity can be a sort of elusive thing to teach. Sometimes it seems like a person is just born creative - or not. This isn't really true, though. This lesson will give you some ideas for teaching creativity in your classroom, no matter what age or subject matter you work with. We will start by giving you a chance to explore your own creativity. Then we will look at a couple common misconceptions about how creativity works, and finally, we will go over some helpful strategies for getting your students to be more creative.

Accessing Your Own Creativity

One of the hardest parts about helping our students get creative is that so many of us have struggles when it comes to getting in touch with our own creativity. You might want to take some time to analyze your own creativity, asking yourself questions like what inspires you, what are your creative strengths and how do you emerge from a creative block? Keep in mind that cultivating your own creative mind will make you a better teacher of creativity.

Misconceptions About Creativity

There are a few common misconceptions about creativity that make it harder for teachers to work on. Let's look at some of these misconceptions.

  • 'Creativity has to lead to a tangible product.' But creativity can be as simple as imaginative thinking, problem-solving in peer relationships or looking at a math problem from a new point of view. By encouraging these efforts in your students, you are teaching creativity.
  • 'You can't really learn to be creative.' While some people may naturally be inclined toward creative arts, many people simply have not had the opportunity to access their creative selves. Students with stressful lives, demanding curricula or relationships with authority that have shown them there is only ever one right answer might resist creative work, but this could simply be a matter of fear. Give your students time and plenty of opportunity, and you will see that each one of them can access a creative side.

With encouragement and inspiration, all students can think creatively
Creative mind

Strategies for Teaching Creativity

Here are a few specific activities you can do with your students to encourage their creativity:

Free Play

Believe it or not, the most effective way to teach creativity to younger children is simply to let them play. Try to avoid intervening even when you are tempted. Playing in open spaces with interesting materials (but not too many of them!) inevitably leads to creativity.

With slightly older students, art activities, drama play or play with musical instruments can often ignite creativity. Legos, blocks and cardboard recyclables also go a long way.

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