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Creativity in the Classroom

2011 January 27
by prgiff

“I don’t dare think about creativy in the classroom,” a teacher said recently. “I’m worried about the tests, I’m worried about accountability.”

And someone else told me, “Focus. These teachers have to focus on what’s important.”

So what’s important?

We all know that teaching reading is vital.  But as a reading teacher, my goal was to give kids the love of reading, the joy of story. I felt that I’d succeeded when I saw a child hide a book under the desk, or when one of them bubbled over telling me what he’d found in the library. (“Library,” a teacher told me. “Who has time for the library?”)

It’s a little difficult to believe that love of reading can be fostered when a teacher has to spend two months preparing for the standardized tests the children have to take. It’s sad that teachers who have spent years learning how to teach, who still trudge to classes at night, are often not trusted to know what kids need, or what makes a classroom alive and vibrant.

It’s sad that they can’t practice the art of teaching without fear of the numbers on a test.

And what about creativity in the classroom? What about spontaneity? No one would deny that children need exposure to the world around them. And so often opportunities present themselves unexpectedly.

I remember the first lovely warm day of spring one year. I took the children outside to watch a bird building its nest, to see the daytime moon.

I remember the first snowy day, standing at the window with the kids…catching the flakes…then drawing what we saw.

I remember looking for those moments.

And so, this time, as I write a new book for the Zigzag series it will be about creativity in children’s lives. Never mind that Destiny thinks the sign on the Center’s wall says, “Be a creature.” Never mind that Charlie is not allowed to invent anymore.

Somehow I’ll make it come out right, I hope; the kids will learn that there isn’t much more important in a day than being—of course—creative!

One Response leave one →
  1. January 30, 2011

    I just finished an author-in-residence week at a rural K-6 school. My main requirement from teachers for the week was no grades on their writing and no test afterward. Instead we held a celebration of writers at the cafe in town. The place was packed with parents, grandparents and kids bubbling over with enthusiasm. Every child had pages to show.

    I’m grateful that as an outsider to the school, I’m in a position to ask them to step away from relentless examination. Knowing what a difference it makes, I’ll never surrender it.

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