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Teaching Children to Think Creatively


“Creative thinking enables people to connect things in new and unique ways to offer interesting solutions and opportunities. It is key to generating ideas that can potentially shift mindsets and enable change.

– Kusum Thumapalli
Chairperson, Club Hatch “

Creativity is about being resourceful – in other words, how best can you make use of things around you. It provides us with the flexibility to think differently and that today is more a necessity than a choice.

– Sreeja Iyer
Co-founder and CEO, Sparkling Mindz “

Teaching Creativity in Schools

So, can creativity be taught or is it a skill that you are born with? “All children are creative. They are capable of demonstrating creative thinking. What they require is encouragement,” declares Ramanathan. And this encouragement should come from the community around them – schools, parents and the society at large.

Across the country, in classrooms cutting across different boards of education and socioeconomic strata, teachers and students are quietly exploring ways to weave creativity into education. The schools tend to focus on teaching academic concepts using creative methods such as experiential learning, model making, educational toys, and computer simulation. But creativity is not just about innovative teaching methods. It is also about children generating ideas, and demonstrating imagination and originality.

What can schools do to promote resourcefulness within the classroom?

  • Create an atmosphere where questioning is encouraged and students are free to express and discuss their ideas without fear of ridicule, as well as challenge ideas and notions. Encourage varied student responses; using brainstorming is a good way to involve all students in the process and to show how diverse ideas can be combined to work towards a coherent end.
  • Urge students to approach a problem in a variety of ways, and to experiment and arrive at a solution by trial and error. The focus should be on the process they use to arrive at a solution, and not on the ‘correct answer’ itself. Insisting on error-free learning is a threat to the development of creativity. Education should be, not only about learning facts, but also about problem-solving. After all, in life itself, we do not have to depend completely on our memory system. We can research and then arrive at our responses.
  • An important skill in the creative thinking process is that of evaluation – students should be able to critically evaluate their approaches and solutions, analyse what will work and discard those that don’t. Again, teachers would do well to emphasise that it is the learning that they get out of the process that is important, and that it is hence acceptable to make mistakes and start over.
  • Encourage collaboration between students, not just competition. In competition, a child tries to outdo others; when collaborating, the group focuses on outperforming themselves and jointly arriving at a solution that will benefit all of them.
  • Encourage students to debate questions and have discussions beyond the scope of the curriculum.
  • Allow for creative expression through different art forms like music, dance, sculpture, etc. Creative thinking and expression in other areas will inspire students to be ingenious even when dealing with academic material. Arts and crafts provide aesthetic tools that can then be used in other disciplines as well.

 

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