Teaching Creativity

“Every individual has latent artistry, and if we guide this potential well, we can spark creative engagement in any subject area.” – Eric Booth

To empower and cultivate creativity in students is a non-negotiable in today’s classroom. I believe creativity, as a skill, is right up there with learning to read, write, compute and problem-solve. After years and years of trying to figure out how to cultivate creativity *well*, I have learned a few of my own non-negotiables. 

1. Teach creativity. Through direct instruction such as teaching and practicing flexible, complex and original thinking or designing various frameworks and platforms for student engagement such as using Creative Problem Solving.  Study “game-changing” creatives and their processes such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Steve Jobs, or even local artists and entrepreneurs. 

2. Teach reflection and revision.  Being reflective is not easy. Our pride can be our greatest hinderance to truly learning how creative we can be. I’ve worked on teams, task forces, partnerships, and boards building initiatives and programs, and I have learned that one of the greatest advantages to creative success is the power to reflect and then revise, only to make whatever one creates better.

3. Teach design. Over and over again. Styles will evolve. Tools and materials will change, but good design is good design. After teaching years of graphic design, video storytelling, creative writing, and film as literature, lessons always circle back to good design. The 21st Fluency Project defines Creativity Fluency as “the process by which artistic proficiency adds meaning through design, art and storytelling. It is about using innovative design to add value to the function of a product though the form.” We are creative beings by nature, but imagine having teachers throughout our lives help us unlock its potential within us.

4. Teachers need to be creatives or at least engage with creative processes in their own life. For my Master’s thesis project, I produced a video for a local school and then dissected and reflected the creative process. In my research, I discovered and read _the everyday work of art: how artistic experience can transform your life_ by Eric Booth (professor of art and education at Julliard) and his follow up _The Everyday Work of Art: Awakening the Extraordinary in Everyday Life_. Both books have had a profound impact on how I approach education, as they are not “how to” books, but provide a fundamental understanding and engagement with the creative process in one’s own life. 

Other resources/essays on cultivating creativity in the classroom:

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