1. the state or quality of being creative.
2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.
3. the process by which one utilizes creative ability: Extensive reading stimulated his creativity.
The world would not be able to function without creativity. It would collapse in upon itself as we made our way through life in a monotone and singular fashion. So why then is there a push to conform to some standard? To the norm? Why are there so many specific expectations for every area of life?
I see this a lot in my line of work. Every day I see amazing creativity, but every day I also see students who are being stifled creatively. When I was in school I took a creative writing class in grade 12. I was a straight A student as a kid and was pretty used to being one of the top kids in my class all the time without trying to hard. So I took this extra English class because I liked writing stories and I thought I would enjoy it. I ended up hating it the majority of the time.
Now, I’m not going to pretend I was the world’s greatest writer by any means, but my classmates during the peer editing process seemed to enjoy my work. I’d also placed third in a short story contest in grade 9. So I wasn’t just some hack either. The one thing that did really set me apart? I didn’t write things that were overly dark, brooding and full of typical teenage angst. I wrote comedy scripts (including some absurdist work and parodies) as well as fantasy based adventure plots (LOTR was quite the thing then thanks to the movie franchise). I even dabbled in sci-fi a bit at times. The reason I didn’t want to anchor my work in the emo/teen angst world was because I was already there – I didn’t need to read/write about it too. Writing was about escapism for me. Unfortunately, my teacher prefered the dark and depressing and the teen angst to my cheerful and upbeat plot lines. On more than one occasion when I questioned the reasoning behind my mark I was met with “well I guess it’s just not my cup of tea.” She never found fault with the structure of my stories, my spelling/grammar, the character development, etc. She just didn’t like it.
Fair enough, but when you’re a teenager that kind of “rejection” can smart. Having your ideas turned down in class in front of your peers can lead to you not wanting to share again. Often when I go into classrooms I’ll try to engage individual students and I’ve had some students say it’s really different to have a teacher actually ask for an opinion – even on something as simple as “what warm-up do you want to do today?” Offering choices within assignments is something else I did when I was on my placements and creating lessons and assignments. For final unit activities you could make a video, write an essay, make a travel brochure, build a model, etc. Kids like to DO things and you need to listen to them. When a kid offers a suggestion and all you ever say is “no” it gets disheartening. Maybe even changing it to “not right now – but remind me later and if we have time we can try that” will make that much of a difference. You have to help foster that curiosity and creativity.
Even in athletics – what do you do when a kid on the team you’re coaching has a new idea for a play or a drill? Do you let them explain it and maybe use it? You should.
In science – when a kid says “Why hasn’t anyone tried running a car on this instead of gasoline?” engage in a discussion. Maybe that kid will be the person to find a new fuel alternative.