Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Creativity: Asset or Burden in the Classroom?

"One of the most consistent findings in educational studies of creativity has been that teachers dislike personality traits associated with creativity. Research has indicated that teachers prefer traits that seem to run counter to creativity, such as conformity and unquestioning acceptance of authority. The reason for teachers’ preferences is quite clear creative people tend to have traits that some have referred to as obnoxious. Torrance (1963) described creative people as not having the time to be courteous, as refusing to take no for an answer, and as being negativistic and critical of others. Other characteristics, although not deserving the label obnoxious, nonetheless may not be those most highly valued in the classroom.
…Research has suggested that traits associated with creativity may not only be neglected, but actively punished. Stone (1980) found that second graders who scored highest on tests of creativity were also those identified by their peers as engaging in the most misbehavior (e.g., “getting in trouble the most”). Given that research and theory suggest that a supportive environment is important to the fostering of creativity, it is quite possible that teachers are (perhaps unwittingly) extinguishing creative behaviors."

Creativity: Asset or Burden in the Classroom? (1995) Creativity Research Journal 8(1): 1-10

Comment: I've got mixed feelings about emphasis on "creativity" in education. Clearly it is an important attribute, but at its worse, education based around "creativity" is part of the cult of the individual afflicting society at present. Are we really doing the best for students by giving them such a self-centred view?

1 comment:

  1. I have always tried to foster creativity, as much as one can in a fact-rich environment like microbiology and molecular biology - and it CAN be hard, fielding the incessant questions that come as the kids loosen up.

    But it's essential - really. In the spoon-fed environment that is our supposedly (and possibly your) research-led teaching space, the easy thing is to default to a textbook (possibly even AJ Cann's excellent offering B-), and do multiple choice questions, marked by computer.

    The HARD thing is to do problem-based learning, with students coming up with their own solutions to often quite thorny issues. Imaginative solutions, sometimes!

    Of course, we get 'em, in the South African environment, after the creativity and spark has been pretty well drilled out of them. And ESPECIALLY the lower-income kids, who might benefit most.

    So nurture those little blooms...they may end up achieving better than you do - and remember you fondly B-)