We hear the word Creativity quite often these days. And not just in the context of art. Creativity has become one of the most sought-after skills in the corporate world. Even in the teaching profession, it’s expected that teachers today employ creative teaching techniques. Additionally, teachers are encouraged to build and nurture creativity among their students in class.
Why has creativity become so important in today’s world?
Because we have it easy with everything else.
Information and infrastructure have become easily accessible to everyone in the digital world, and anybody can use them to build something worthwhile. However, the question is how creative our imagination can get to lead us to build something truly innovative. Creativity is important today and will be so in the future because it will be the key differentiating factor among individuals. The creative lot will be problem-solvers, leaders, innovators and creators.
Creativity is a muscle that gets better with practice and training. The best time to start working on this muscle is when one’s growing up. And that’s why teachers play such a crucial role in developing creativity in an individual.
So, how can you as a teacher build, develop and nurture creativity among your students? Let’s explore!
1. Change Classroom Layout Frequently
Most classrooms look the same. The student desks arranged one behind the other and the teacher facing them while teaching. This is more suitable for lectures or speeches. However, to attain maximum learning outcomes we must experiment with different classroom layouts. For example, arrange the desks in U- or V-shape, in one big circle, multiple circles, semi-circles based on the activities students perform on a given day — solo projects, group assignments, presentations, demonstrations, experiments and more. It’s also a great idea to take classes in the outdoors. That way, students learn and understand to what extent they need to collaborate with others and use their own creative energy to accomplish the given tasks.
2. Use a Mix of Learning Materials
Digital learning technology has spoilt teachers and students with choices. Videos, images, infographics, audio, text, animations, cartoons, simulations, projects, assignments, storytelling — there are so many options to teach and learn that can be mix-n-matched to create an amazing teaching-learning experience.
As a teacher who intends on developing creativity in students, you should use creativity in your own teaching techniques so that students learn merely by watching you. Teaching by doing is after all one of the best ways to teach.
3. Explore Multiple Perspective
Creativity is not linear, but lateral. One of the important components of creativity is lateral thinking. Thinking across multiple dimensions and layers simultaneously. Thinking of all consequences of an action, understanding all the differences and diverse viewpoints, looking at different possibilities before taking decision — these are all traits of a lateral thinker. To build one’s creative engine, one must be equipped to think laterally.
Consciously making students aware of different complexities while teaching a concept will enable them to take into account multiple dimensions of a concept. Encourage them to think laterally through problems, both made-up as well as real ones that the world is facing today. This will teach them how to apply this in real life.
4. Add Colour to Your Students’ Life
Literally adding more colours to your class, teaching material, exercise sheets etc. will naturally foster the young minds to think more creatively than they would otherwise. We know colours have a direct effect on our moods. Several studies have shown that colours influence productivity and creativity.
Encourage students to use colour code to identify different subjects, books and more, to keep them organised while also facilitating the flow of creative juices.
5. Let Them Choose
The ability to choose or select is a great way to exercise creativity. Present them with options or give them complete discretion whenever and wherever possible. It keeps students engaged in class. Let them select how they want to learn, present or demonstrate things in class. Let them follow their natural inclinations.
For example, when assigning projects, let students decide the medium/mode/method/template of working on without you laying out guidelines for them. If they want to present a report in the form of a presentation as opposed to text-only document, let them do so. Of course, there could be some basic set of ethical rules that can be common for all projects and assignments. Anything students want to try within these frameworks should be accepted and embraced.
6. Encourage & Embrace Mistakes
Creativity is all about trying new things and experimenting. The very definition of experiments is that it can either be a success or a failure. As a teacher who’s trying to encourage student creativity, you should welcome all mistakes and errors. Refrain from setting hard and fast rules that will confine or hinder your students’ imagination. Create environments conducive to risk-taking. Let them explore irrespective of whether they win, fall or fail. Each attempt will teach them a lesson that will stay with them for life. This is where growth occurs.
Applauding efforts and embracing mistakes – that’s the most important and perhaps the most difficult tasks that teachers and parents need to take up to help kids nurture their creativity.
7. Celebrate Efforts, Not Outcomes
If the job of a teacher is to prepare their students for life, this is the most favourable thing you can do for your students. Empower them to take efforts without thinking much about the outcomes. This will encourage them to try different things, be a doer. And the world needs people who do, who don’t shy away from stretching the boundaries of imaginations, who attempt to try multiple things without the fear or being judged, because growing up they were applauded by their teachers for doing this.
And that makes a whole lot of difference to a person’s confidence.
This was our take on how to nurture and develop creativity among your students. We’ll be publishing many more articles in this space. So, stay tuned and keep getting better at the art of teaching!
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