Why standarisation kills creativity?

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Some time ago I received a message from one of the readers of the blog, asking about ways to arouse students’ creativity during technical classes. The problem was that pupils instead of showing their own creativity and inventing their own projects, they were waiting for ready-made solutions and full instructions.

 

At first, as the creativity educator, I had my head in the clouds and I asked myself – what’s the problem? ‘I don’t see any problem here. You just need to encourage your students a little. Perhaps you have to introduce some competitive tasks, engage pupils in a bigger project. These can be the solutions.’ I thought. However, probably after two or three days of trying to devise ‘genius’ solutions for putting my ideas into practice, I realised what was happening and it occurred to me that this problem does not concern technical activities but all student’s activities.

 

That’s why in today’s post I will tell you where the pupils’ lack of initiative comes from and I will present some solutions of how to fight it. However, it should be remembered, that these solutions will not bring immediate results. You need to be patient and respect, that each student needs its time to get used to new rules. You should also be aware that if you really want to change something, you will have to start from yourself.

“Be the change you want to see in the World”.
Mahatma Gandhi

 

STANDARDISATION

This is an element of education that destroys the potential of children at the kindergarten stage. On further stages, it is only worse. Standardisation comes down to the equalisation of all students to one level without taking into account their individual predispositions and abilities, assessing the work of each individual based on the same guidelines, frequent assigning the same tasks to students of different levels of development of certain skills and in general basing the teacher’s work on a standardised scheme. These factors do not only kill creativity, innovation and the ability to take on new challenges but also influence the cognitive development of students.Imagine a situation in which the student’s temperament and character are subjected to the school’s assessment. There would be a sheet containing a list of specific behaviors and attitudes that we would like to evaluate. People with leadership abilities, able to establish social relations, open – minded would probably be the best ones in the classroom. In turn introvert, taciturn, shy as well as nervous, impulsive and talkative students would receive lower grades. Believe me, no matter what temperament we have, there is a place in this world for all of us. Each of us can find a job that suits us, everyone can live in his own way without worrying that his temperament makes him either a bad or a good human. And yet the term „weak / bad student” permanently entered the school dictionary. And not many teachers realize that by naming a student on the basis of grades from one, two or even all subjects, it does not only interfere with their self-esteem but negatively affects self-studying, looking for interests, taking on challenges in the future, willingness to learn and building relationships with peers.

„Why should I try if I’m bad anyway?”, „I will not do anything about it now…”. “It is too late to change…”.

 

Do you know what happens to students who have passions, such as playing guitar or snowboarding, who cannot cope with school material? Parents, often with the support of teachers, limit children’s additional activities. They buy tutoring, home classes, make children do their  homework way too long. And only because it needs to be done. Instead of focusing on the development of their children, they try to even its level to the minimum set by the rest of the society. With such a turn of events, the child feels worse than others, feels painful failures, is unhappy. It’s a pity because if he was allowed to be an individual, free to develop and improve his passions and therefore acquire new skills, he would shape a stable self-esteem, a sense of accomplishment. Through standardization, which can be observed in all school subjects, including artistic ones, students cannot go beyond their comfort zone. When we offer them „any choice of topic”, they do not know what to do with such responsibility. They have no ideas, they are blocked. Imagine a shoemaker who makes shoes all his life based on catalogues. He does not add any improvements, he creates from A to Z as it is done in the instructions. When we take his model away and ask for a new pair of shoes, we will certainly get the ones he has done recently. Creativity needs to be developed with the freedom of choice and we must be able to get used to it.

 

Unfortunately educational system in Poland in which we work, is very difficult to introduce changes that in a real way would affect the departure from standardisation and the creation of a „typical student”. However, there are several treatments that each teacher can apply to avoid destroying children’s potential and stimulate their creativity and ingenuity.

 

artistic activities – limit template works (work based on a scheme), allow students to be creative, let them feel that their ideas and visions are as beautiful and important as those in the school curriculum. Ask questions, make them reflect on the matter. Do not give up when children do not show initiative – when they understand their freedom and know how they can use it, they will benefit from it.

 

humanities – ask your students for opinions, what they think about books/ movies/ theater plays, about the tasks that you prepare for them or about tests. Do not judge, allow free expression. Collect suggestions of interesting topics for essays or books worth reading. Ask for their  favorite characters from the literature, look for the opportunities to appreciate the initiative and creativity of students. Engage students in preparing interesting materials for lessons, try not to impose too many restrictions.

 

science subjects – get to know the interest of your students, look for similarities between your subject and children’s/students’ passions. Let the pupils take over your role, suggest that they will be able to lead the lessons if they  prepare for the task (presentations, mastering the material, knowledge of an interesting film supplementing knowledge, practical approach), appreciate students who can find a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge. Discuss with students the usefulness of knowledge, allow negative opinions, do not judge, try to prove that in many aspects of life (not only in future work) knowledge of the material may be useful to them.

 

lessons with the tutors – discuss topics important for students, get involved in their ideas and curiosity about the world (also if it goes outside the school range :)), discuss social situations. In case of problems in the group try always to listen to both sides, without judging, suggest to students that they can look for a solution themselves (do not  ignore the situation when one side of the conflict feels hurt), create intervening class teams (each week another group, change their composition from time to time), they will deal with the group’s problems when you are not around and alert you when necessary, give solutions if students do not come out with their own initiative.

 

outside of the classroom – do not reject students willingness to share something with you, if at the time you do not have time to talk, tell student to come to you later, when it is more convenient for you. Admit to mistakes. If you happened to make one, your authority will suffer more once you ignore the matter.

Soon I will prepare a dozen ideas for you on how to introduce more individuality and freedom during artistic classes. Giving the students space and freedom in the learning process helps us to support their creativity and innovativity :).

If you find this article  interesting or useful, please leave a comment – it gives me great satisfaction if you appreciate what I write :)!