I spent time recently in South Africa attending a colloquium entitled, “Why the Brain Matters”. There were twelve of us invited to discuss the brain, neuroscience, and learning specifically regarding creativity. The participants include neuroscientists, artists, authors, and… well, me. I am an educator concerned with how the brain works, how it impacts education, and how we can better teach children using principles of the brain. As a special educator, specifically, I am always interested in how we can meet the needs of learners who learn differently. During the two weeks in Johannesburg, we met every morning to hear one person’s presentation and then we discussed the content critically and the creative process- how it can be fostered, what the science says so far, and how we can better understand differences in individuals. We had colleagues from Uganda, Barbados, Holland, Nepal, Iran, Israel, Switzerland, Kyrgyzstan, and others so it was a very diverse group. I will be sharing some of my musings from these fascinating talks the next three weeks. This is my second reflection. See Reflection #1 here.
The second take away is the idea that creativity is innate- everyone has it- but it manifests itself in those that allow their mid-line structures to explore it. However, schooling, and often, parenting is built around the idea that children should stay within the lines and stay rational, usual, ordinary. Being creative often starts as irrational or unusual but can become extraordinary if that creativity is allowed and then built upon and nourished. There is a discipline, persistence, and resilience needed for extraordinary creativity to happen but. . . it can happen if we allow it. Unfortunately, as children grow into young adults and adults, the irrational and unusual is discouraged or maybe even, not allowed. This diminishes and, in some cases, extinguishes creativity in people.
As we often discuss in professional development sessions that I have with teachers, “Genius does not fit on a rubric.” Well, creativity does not fit within most rubrics either… it is important that we try to value creativity as much as we value staying within the lines.
How can you allow your students to be creative?