3 killers of student creativity and ownership

Three killers of student creativity and ownership:

    1. The teacher and textbook are always right.
    2. There is a correct answer and it’s your job to find, regurgitate, and/or comply with it.
    3. If you question either #1 or #2, you get in trouble.

(these apply to behavior too, not just learning)

11 Responses to “3 killers of student creativity and ownership”

  1. While this is true, the danger is that most people don’t recognize that they have these attitudes.

  2. I think this is a simplified take.

    Heck. Of course it is. It’s three sentences.

    But the devil is in the detail.

    A knowledgeable teacher with both subject. And teaching expertise is wonderful thing.

    A well written textbook is also a wonderful thing. I’d extend that to books in general. Books are not always right. Nor are teachers. But good ones usually are when they need to be.

    Yes. There are often right answers. And sometimes there might be just the one. And sometimes we need to give feedback that indicates this is the case.

    A good teacher with expertise is capable, with good training and pedagogical expertise, of fostering and facilitating creativity. You can make your stuðents be creative. But you can effectively give the, one f the key tools to express the,selves creatively in a topic. Subject expertise.

    It’s rare for people to creatively reimagine their fields in mining fully revolutionary ways that actually stick without a heck of a lot of subject expertise.

    We need to value our students ability to question things, but we need to enable that questioning with a key literacy. Subject expertise. And we need to acknowledge that, in an imperfect world, teachers and textbooks that have and impart that expertise are useful things.

  3. Apologies Scott. My clumsy farmer hands don’t mesh well with an iPad keyboard.

    Can’t make students be creative I meant.

    I should also say, I think your post is simplified. In my rush to post and do everything else, I might have given the impression I meant simplified. I didn’t. M own response is also simplified.

  4. Ahh. I give p. Posting from a laptop with enough time to think is obviously key here…

    • David, I agree wholeheartedly that as individuals and schools, we need to reexamine some deeply-held, often-undiscussed assumptions that drive our learning and teaching environments.

      Keith, thanks for the thoughtful pushback and extension. I don’t think many folks would argue against the role of thoughtful teachers and learning materials. And, yes, we want students to be grounded in foundational knowledge and skills. But much of students’ learning – and most of their deeper, critical thinking work – happens in the gray, not the black and white. Most schools and assessment systems strongly emphasize the ‘quest for correct’ over messier discussions and thinking spaces. And, by doing so, I think that we lose opportunities to re-engage students, help students find meaning in what we’re asking them to learn, and connect with outside communities and issues to enhance relevance. When we stress compliance and authority over engagement and meaning, we lose many, many of our children…

  5. The challenge with number one is helping teachers (and school leaders) respond to critical questions from students without feeling personally challenged. We talk a lot about teaching students critical reading and critical thinking skills, but often forget to focus on how to accept the use of these skills when students generalize them to other situations outside of the lesson where they were taught. Our own egos get in the way and we feel challenged.

    • I think that’s a superb observation, Ari. As educators we talk a good game about being ‘lifelong learners’ but then feel as if we have to be the all-knowing experts at the front of our classrooms. [sigh]

      • So then the challenge is how to do we get comfortable being uncomfortable in an environment that we think that we need to control? Can we admit that we don’t know something? I spent several years as a principal of schools in dual language environment and I hadn’t (& still h haven’t mastered) that language. I kept hoping that if I was open about my struggle with the language in front of the students (and they would watch me grasp for words and make mistakes when I spoke with them or their teachers) that there would be more acceptance of that kind of risk taking.

        • Good for you Ari. I think the vulnerability you displayed helped your students connect with you better. More importantly, you modeled to them that it’s okay not to know everything and let others be aware of that.

          That helps prevents them from developing into ideologues. If they’re able to realize what they don’t know, then they’re open to new ideas and their creativity takes off.

      • Scott – I agree. The sage on the stage mentality runs deep in classrooms. Part of the difficulty is that it is what is still seen in most universities. We teach, often, how we were taught. I hate this. I get bored being the font of all knowledge. I WANT kids to push back against me, against what they read. I tell my students if there’s only one way to respond correctly to an essay prompt, I screwed up and wrote a crappy prompt.

        How do we create teachers who do this? Model it. Model it in schools and universities. Make it the “new normal” so that people will remember it when they are in front of a classroom.

  6. I think this starts at the top. If governments and school administrators don’t encourage teachers to be creative and takes risks in their teaching because it might, just might, have a negative outcome with standardized test scores, then how can we expect teachers to encourage the same attitude in their students?

Leave a Reply