3 Teaching Methods to Reward Creativity

by A Guest Author

cc licensed flickr photo shared by boboroshi

Modern education has come a long way in the last few decades. Although the classroom isn’t the strict, stiff and serious place that it used to be, student creativity is still systematically dismantled. As educators, we still have a tendency to over-control our students and classroom in the name of product and management. These methods not only constrict students, but it deprives them of valuable life-long creative thinking skills.

According to Dr. Leslie Wilson of University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (2004), we often discourage student creativity with our direct instruction and classroom management practices. While there are times that these traditional methods are necessary, there are many instances when we can allow students more freedom to explore and problem-solve through their own creative spirits.

What We Should Not Do:

These are some typical teacher behaviors that actually dismantle student creativity rather than fostering it.

  • Hover over students, making them feel that their every move is being watched.
  • Restrict choices, which also restricts a student’s freedom to follow his own instincts and hunches to problem-solve.
  • Constant evaluating, making students feel that they are always being measured, and destroying their creative process.
  • Over-use of rewards and competition, which stresses students, especially younger ones. When a student feels that the only thing that matters is winning, this also erodes at their intrinsic motivation and creative thinking.
  • Rush through a lesson or content, which does not allow for deep engagement. Creativity is fostered when deep engagement occurs, and deep engagement occurs when there is time to do so.

What We Should Do:

The following alternative methods may feel strange or counter-intuitive at first, but you will get the hang of them quickly and you will see the creativity in your classroom flourish. These points come from Robert Sternberg and Wendy M. Williams of the Center for Development and Learning.

  • Model Creativity —We hear all of the time about modeling behaviors, and when it comes to creativity, it is just as true. If we want to teach our students to be creative, we must show them how to be creative. Decide how you feel about being creative and transfer those ideals and goals into your everyday actions in the classroom. When it comes to creativity, your motto should be “Do as I do not as I say.” Set the creative thermostat in your classroom, and the climate will follow. Promote this ideal to your colleagues and parents.
  • Encourage Creative Collaboration—Use instruction and lesson plans that encourage creative collaboration, such as the Jigsaw Model. This promotes creativity because this model allows room for peer to peer discussion, instruction, feedback and idea generation. This also provides the platform for students to examine ideas and conclusions in order to analyze errors and learn from them. This model sets the stage for an open, fearless, collaborative and supportive environment. The natural product of such an environment is creativity.
  • Delay Gratification and Rewards—Traditional instructional methods apply regular, heavy doses of praise and rewards, which is not in line with the reality outside of school. Use examples from your life to demonstrate the creative benefits of waiting for rewards. We need to use our classroom to help students switch their short-term thinking into long-term thinking. This is a crucial life skill that we can give to our students.

About the Author

Audrey Hamilton is a school district administrator and guest author at Top Teaching Colleges, a site with resources to help prospective students review top-rated teaching degree programs.

This post was written by A Guest Author

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