Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Reflections on Creativity

Last week, we featured a Confratute reflection on a series of math sessions that our teachers attended.  This week, we would like to spotlight Lisa Ricciardelli (Art teacher @ Austin) and her reflections on Creativity at Confratute.

I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to attend this year's Confratute and fully enjoyed all the speakers, classes, workshops, and scoops of farm fresh ice cream. The energy there at UCONN is really playful, informative, and inspiring! Yet if I could sum up this experience with just one word, it would definitely have to be creative.

In one of my favorite classes of the week, “Motivation, Meta-Cognition, & the Importance of Creativity”, we learned that there are two types of creativity according to Dr. Bonnie Cramond: expressive and inventive. Expressive creativity illustrates conceptions or emotions and aesthetics where the inventive type addresses a worthwhile problem to find novel and appropriate solutions. Both have equal merit in education and can be woven into our curriculum in a plethora of ways. From the new Fine Arts TEKS:

The Fine Arts, as universal languages, incorporate the study of dance, music, theatre, and the visual arts to offer unparalleled experiences and empower students to explore realities, relationships, and ideas. The Fine Arts engage and motivate all students through active learning, critical thinking, and innovative problem solving. Our disciplines develop cognitive functioning and increase student academic achievement, higher order thinking skills, communication, and collaboration. Students develop relevant aesthetic and cultural awareness through exploration leading to creative expression. Creativity is essential and the study of the Fine Arts nurtures and develops the whole child.

Of course, a Fine Arts classroom is not the only place creativity can and should happen. In fact, it really is vital that schools today implement opportunities for students to exercise their creative minds as often as possible. For it is in this state of creative thinking that ideas are born, identity is fostered and developed, and innovation and expression can bloom.

These are the characteristics most employers are looking for in our new ‘conceptual age’. As Daniel Pink states in his excellent book: A Whole New Mind,

“The high-concept, high-touch abilities that now matter most are fundamentally human attributes. After all, back on the savannah, our cave-person ancestors weren’t taking SATs or plugging numbers into spreadsheets. But they were telling stories, demonstrating empathy, and designing innovations. These abilities have always comprised part of what it means to be human. But after a few generations in the Information Age, these muscles have atrophied. The challenge is to work them back into shape. those who master them first will have a huge advantage.”

One of Austin Elementary School’s greatest virtues is that teachers on our campus do regularly use creativity strategies for learning in the classroom. Still, it is essential that we reliably stoke that fire in ourselves in order to grow as educators. This can be uncomfortable at times as well as completely gratifying. Creativity takes courage! I believe we teachers would greatly benefit to (dare I say MUST) challenge ourselves to perform creative exercises regularly in order to grow more comfortable with the processes and improve our understanding of the learner’s position. We must stretch, open our minds, and redirect our thought patterns, take risks, and express ourselves! I would be interested to know your thoughts and experiences on this. Here are a few places to help get the creative juices flowing:



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