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We understand the challenges of raising and educating kids in the 21st century. Here are some insights we have picked up along the way.
When you think of school and a “traditional” education, what are the first things that come to mind? A set curriculum? White Boards? Structure? Rows of desks facing one direction? After all teaching and learning is a well-planned exchange of knowledge found on the pages of textbooks, expounded through lecture, and cemented in endless note-taking. The inescapable truth is that education tends to be formulaic and predictable. Which begs the question: is there room for creativity? Could there be a substantive benefit to introducing creativity into the classroom?
When we think of creativity, we think of artists and outliers and color. The exact opposite of order. A bursting of ideas and unfiltered thought. But can creativity be practical, too? We hear it again and again: creativity is a great added bonus to any child’s education. But reframe that. Can creativity instead be key in the foundation of our children’s education rather than just an add-on? Can creativity be more than just a perk for the resume?
THE CREATIVE DEBATE
A recent article in EducationHQ highlights the importance of stimulating creativity in the classroom. It’s simple. The more interactive the learning environment, the more stimulated the students. Curiosity is sparked by creativity. And if students are curious, they are better learners, thinkers, and motivated ones at that. EducationHQ explains how the current climate of high-stakes testing only reinforces the mechanical memorization and spitting back of information - converting the classroom into an assembly line rather than a space for intellectual discourse.
Creative learning environments offer students the freedom and space to analyze complex topics and details without a right or wrong answer, allowing for back-and-forth dialogue that students can lead and expand on for themselves. With open discussion, there is trust to learn, but also trust to express themselves -- both trust in their instructor as well as trust in themselves, and that last part about trusting themselves is immensely important.
IT STARTS IN MIDDLE SCHOOL
So how can we as educators and parents ensure that our children can explore and be curious? How can we offer them the chance to be creative? Well, first, let’s start with middle school, a critical juncture in students’ lives when they are primed and ready for new opportunities to be stimulated, engaged, and challenged. To think. at this age, students are still naturally curious.
“The middle school years are critical for maintaining a love of learning while kids are still moldable,” says Stephanie McCaine, Harvey Middle School admissions director. “Creativity and curiosity engage kids in learning as teachers make the learning fun and then kids retain more,” Ms. McCaine says. That is exactly why fostering creativity in the classroom in middle school is so vital. We need to kindle the flames of that creative fire in our children while it is still beginning to burn. Otherwise, the fire will go out, maybe for good.
KEEPING THE BALL ROLLING
But that’s not to say that creativity stops in middle school. A middle schooler exposed to creativity as part of his or her classroom culture can mature into a high schooler well-prepared to take the creative thought process and approach to the next level. And, high school students are no less curious than middle schoolers, and creativity is even more vital for them. They have been exposed to their creative potential and are more than ready to take the risk to pursue their own individual creative interests. This expansion of their thinking happens both inside and outside of the classroom.
Head of Harvey Middle School Dr. Brendan Byrne is a firm believer in the link between creativity and learning, and the need for more stimulating programs that embrace it. “Young people need schools that will promote their intellectual growth and allow them to be engaged in meaningful activities inside and outside the classroom. Through participating in engaging school programs, kids can build positive relationships with peers and teachers. When not given these opportunities, young people may gravitate toward activities outside of school which might not always bring out the best in them.”
Whether in classroom lessons or in extracurricular activities, students can use creative tools to draw more complex inferences. They can demonstrate their understanding of concepts and become better thinkers as a result. This is true, regardless of their age, and as they grow, it will only get stronger.
IS CREATIVITY AN ASSET FOR COLLEGE?
College is always on our minds. It’s the looming beacon that we are all helping our children to move successfully toward. It is a key step in preparing our kids for the real world and all the challenges that will come after they graduate. We want them to be ready in a practical way and to acquire the necessary skills they’ll need to find success.
Can creativity really support that goal? Yes! In fact, creativity may be one of the most beneficial factors in preparing our children for college and in their adult lives. An article from Edudemic looked a bit further into this exact topic. In a 2010 survey of more than 1,500 executives, the research found that creativity is valued as the most important business skill in the modern world. Being “creative” is one of the most commonly used terms on Linkedin year after year -- so what does this tell us? The world we are preparing our kids for wants creative thinkers. The real world values problem solvers. Progress craves inventors who are intricate designers, inventors, collaborators, and it is our job as educators and parents to offer our children the opportunity to become the next great leaders in a global world.
CREATIVITY DOESN’T HAVE A CURFEW
The good news is that creativity doesn’t have an expiration date.That’s what makes creativity so important. It is a lifelong skill that nurtures curious leaders, confident individuals, and intellectual minds.The world needs creative thinkers. Finding a school environment that offers a curriculum steeped in creativity means giving your child every advantage to soar.
Want to learn more about education, learning, and how you can help your child reach their full potential?