Creativity... for Students and Teachers - Steve Barkley

Creativity… for Students and Teachers

My newest reading is Allison Zmuda’s book, Breaking Free From Myths About Teaching and Learning , published by ASCD.

She identifies 9 myths of students that interfere with quality learning. Here are examples:

#3 The point of an assignment is to get it done so that it is off the to-do list.
#5 I feel proud of myself only if I receive a good grade
#9 What I am learning in school doesn’t have much to do with my life, but it doesn’t have to- it’s school.

Zmuda presents many ideas for educators to be exploring both individually and collectively including a strong presentation of 21st Century Visions.

Her examination of embedding creativity into learning organizations caught my attention.(page 115)

Zmuda explores four competencies from Robert Epstein’s work for embedding creativity into classrooms : capturing, challenging, broadening , and surrounding.

Train students to capture their thinking – ideas are everywhere. Train students by taking formal time in class to capture ideas and building repositories for storage. These collections should provide future inspiration and should encourage tinkering with thinking.

Challenging problems for students to contemplate pushes them beyond what they already know. Part of challenging students is to teach them to “stay stuck” instead of giving up. Seeing struggling as a component of learning and failing as feedback promote student learning.

Broadening is seeking out knowledge in new areas—the more uncharacteristic for the learner the better. Creative combinations of diverse fields, peoples and cultures engenders fascinating results. Tearing down the walls that separate the disciplines and creating more interdisciplinary learning environments can broaden opportunities for learners.

Changing a static learning environment….physical and social….stimulates creativity. Diverse and unusual environments along with new materials for play and exploration can inspire imaginings and connections.

Creativity and Professional Learning Communities  The North Carolina DOE website suggests:
“The idea of a learning organization where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together has been a relatively new paradigm….”

Capturing, Challenging, Broadening and Surrounding should be present in PLC design and function. The challenges are present as teachers look to maximize learning for all students. I have often found though that teachers have trouble “staying stuck” and therefore lose perseverance or settle for an existing “less effective” practice.

Broadening and surrounding can be built into the mix of PLC members. How about a PLC of 8th grade middle school and 9th grade high school teachers? One middle school has all teachers serve on school-wide PLCs as well as their grade level teams.

PLC minutes and the sharing of those minutes might be a form of capturing.

PLCs should lead us to creating the future.


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2 Responses to “ Creativity… for Students and Teachers ”

  1. DeGee Says:

    I wonder how many of the myths are also practiced by teachers. Many times the lessons or assignments made are just part of checking things off the list (#3). A good evaluation or even praise from peers can be what makes a teacher pleased or proud of what they’ve done (#5). Sadly, what many are doing at school doesn’t have anything to do with real life (#9). How are we going to get the students ready for the real world if we aren’t thinking about the real world?

  2. Stephen G. Barkley Says:

    You are right on track DeGee. Teachers’myths cause students’ myths

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