Creativity is missing in today’s classrooms, mainly because of the increasing amount of tests students are required to take every year. There is too much testing and too little creative, innovative thinking. Here I want to make my stance clear: I am not against testing in schools. My reasons for this I will talk about in a future post. But I do need to say in this one, that testing is a big reason why creativity and originality have left the schools. Tests are good for judging student progress, in small doses, but creativity is an important part of the learning process and shouldn’t be replaced by more tests. Creativity works students’ brains in different ways than testing does, which helps develop their brains even more. Schoolwork becomes more interesting and personal when creativity is brought to the material; students learn and understand more when the material is personally interesting to them.
When I was in elementary school, I became lucky enough to be involved in the district’s gifted program, a program that let a small number of students, once a week, go into a separate classroom with separate teachers and work on more personal and creative projects. We were allowed to choose what we wanted to learn and study and we had a large amount of materials to work with to create anything we wanted. One year, my friend and I did a project on Braille and even were able to work with a machine that created Braille. I loved being in that program because we got to work outside the confines of our elementary school classrooms and do something besides homework and tests and worksheets. I wish these approach to learning to be brought more into regular classrooms so every student can benefit.
Sarah is doing a lot to try and bring more fun and interesting activities into her classroom to encourage her students to want to learn. At the beginning of the year, she had her students build catapults when they were learning about force and momentum. Then they were able to bring the catapults out onto a field and spent the class period launching balls and calculating different physics problems. Many of her students loved the project because it was a more interesting way to learn the physics behind the real-world without spending all their time calculating problems on paper. Sarah has also decided that for next year she is going to create a theme for each of her units. Next year’s theme is going to be Star Wars – every unit’s PowerPoint slides have Star Wars backgrounds and every physics problem will involve Star Wars references. It is an interesting way to help her students become more interested in a topic that many consider difficult.