How to turn your classroom into a hotbed of creativity and innovation

Classrooms do not promote nearly enough creativity and innovation. Here’s how they can start

PLCs-communitiesEd. note: Innovation In Action is a monthly column from the International Society of Technology in Education focused on exemplary practices in education.

Establishing a classroom that guides and supports students in developing their abilities to innovate and create is not often covered in teacher education or in-service professional development.

Nor does learning about creativity or the skills that are drawn on in the creative act figure strongly in commonly implemented curricula or standards.

On the other hand, our society looks to innovation and creativity as essential avenues that will contribute to its future prosperity and well being. Our policy makers, including those who shape school and education, allude to them often, and the public agrees strongly.

True, vestiges of arts education remain in some schools. But while the arts are closely associated with the notion of student creativity, they cover many other things and hardly fill this gap. Further, it’s essential that student creativity and innovation be integrated across the curriculum. We need creative and innovative souls in the STEM, communications, and business areas, as well as in the arts.

Clearly there’s a crucial disconnect. But there’s good news. Being creative and innovative is a natural part of being human. And while schools commonly ignore it in favor of developing other aspects of thinking and learning, avoiding the looming creativity crisis is eminently do-able. Importantly, our society’s shift toward a technology dominant workplace and intellectual environment also offers answers to satisfying this unmet need.

Fostering creativity and innovation

Moving into a style of teaching that fosters creativity and innovation need not seem like an overwhelmingly out of reach destination for teachers who haven’t begun that journey. It can and should integrate nicely with the rest of what’s taught and learned in school. After all, the figures we want to hold up to our students as examples and models of creative thinking and behavior are participants in the world, not outsiders.

Next page: The basics of shifting classroom culture

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