Creativity Skills are Important

I talk a lot about how to nurture creativity in the classroom but I think it is just as important to be aware of how we might be inadvertently stifling our students creativity. Creativity is an important skill to develop in our students. By encouraging creativity, we can create a fun and engaging learning environment that will benefit our students in the long run.

Here are just a few of the benefits of letting our students learn through creativity:

  • It allows them to explore classroom topics in a playful way
  • It builds positive habits that will keep them motivated to learn
  • It helps students develop problem-solving skills across different subjects.

Ways Teachers Could Stifle Students’ Creativity

Teachers play a crucial role in nurturing the creativity of students. However, unintentionally, they might also stifle it. Here are some ways that teachers might stifle students’ creativity:

Grading everything

Assessment is important to check how well our students are learning in class. However, making everything fall under a numbered criteria hinders the goal of any to-be creative activity. Collins and Amabile (1999) mentioned that displaying creative output involves having high intrinsic habits and low extrinsic rewards. But how can we avoid this? Don’t show your students your criteria for success in an activity through a number or letter grade but how well they went through the activity. For example, in an assignment for growing a potted flower at home, assess your students through how well they documented their observations while growing the flower compared to giving them a score based on how healthy the grown flower becomes. When teachers focus too much on grades, students may become more concerned with getting a good grade than with expressing their creativity.

Discouraging questioning and wandering

One of the parts of the creative process includes asking lots of questions and exploring as many areas in an idea. If any of your students feel that they cannot ask their own questions due to other people or the environment they are living in, it can have dire consequences. Some of these include preserving their own self-worth to having gaps in their knowledge of the lesson (Bonsall, n.d.). Reducing this scenario includes building their confidence in expressing themselves to having more critical thinking abilities. When teachers discourage experimentation, they limit students’ ability to explore new ideas and take risks.

Not allowing any choice

Brian Field (2016) wrote about the increasing amount of choice students can have while they learn in the classroom. This idea is important as students unable to make any choice not only includes not having enough choices to having too many choices. When it comes to this mistake, it involves being worried about not giving ample time for each student to affirm and give helpful feedback to their way of learning through the lesson. Creating more independence for students in classroom activities without falling into either situation involves careful planning and clear execution. By having too many rules and procedures, teachers can limit students’ ability to think outside the box and be creative.

Criticizing student ideas

Feedback and criticizing is important for anyone’s growth, whether it is inside or outside the classroom. Similar to giving the right amount of choice, this mistake is about giving too many “areas of improvement” instead of praising as many strengths as possible will create an uncomfortable environment for everyone. It also includes applying the notion of “students should not criticize their teachers” (Stanchfield, 2019). As much as students look up to you to help them learn better, it should also be where you can learn from your students. After all, feedback is a two-way cycle. 

Making it a competition and offering extrinsic rewards

Remember earlier that having lower extrinsic rewards paired with more intrinsic rewards can help a student boost their creative output? Why is it bad? Kohn’s 1987 article on competition in the classroom points out that competition can sour the relations within the classroom and how students can become successful outside competition instead of being a product of competition. Checking out whether you’re turning your students’ progression in the year into a competition for a higher letter grade rather than retaining lessons involves allowing them to enjoy throwing themselves for the process to be finished rather than gaining points for having it finished.

Not providing enough time for independent thinking

When teachers do not give students enough time to think and reflect, they do not have an opportunity to generate new ideas and engage in creative thinking.

Not valuing diverse perspectives

When teachers do not value diverse perspectives, they limit students’ ability to see different perspectives and find unique solutions.

By avoiding these mistakes, teachers can foster a learning environment that encourages creativity and innovation. By doing so, they can help students develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, and a love for learning that will serve them well throughout their lives.