Considering the importance of creativity
Monday, February 20, 2017
When thinking about the instruction that is typically provided for students with learning disabilities, how much includes the development or use of creativity? Albert Einstein has been credited with the phrase, "Creativity is intelligence having fun."
Learning is hard work for students with learning disabilities, and most instruction for students with learning disabilities is very structured, direct, and scripted. It is full of modeling with, "I do, we do, and you do."
Modeling and copying instruction is used because students with learning disabilities learn best this way. However, many students with learning disabilities are very creative. They have the ability to "have fun" with their intelligence and develop creativity, but it must be welcomed.
Is creativity innate or can it be taught? The answer to this question is similar to, "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" There are philosophical and theoretical posits in gifted education that would answer the question of creativity being innate or taught with a "that all depends…"
What is most important is the idea that students with learning disabilities display many creative tendencies that should be developed and broadened. For all students, creativity of some type is innate and there are many types of creativity that can be enhanced and encouraged.
What purpose does creativity fulfill? Creativity involves generating an idea, product, or action that involves imagination, cognitive abilities, and personality. It involves divergent and convergent thinking working together.
In divergent thinking, there are many possible solutions to a given problem. In convergent thinking, students use facts in a predictable combination to arrive at a solution. Creativity causes a student to think in ways that provide many avenues to a conclusion, rather than just one.
What do students with learning disabilities lose if we don’t include creativity in our instruction? Students with learning disabilities need to be provided opportunities to develop divergent thinking. The instruction given to students with learning disabilities is typically convergent.
Students learn in a methodical manner with specific steps and guidance to get to a correct answer or product. Students with learning disabilities need to have creativity modeled for them as well, or they will not have opportunities to learn to use their own originality, flexibility, and motivation. We will, in a sense, be fostering learned helplessness in our students.
What are some simple ways to add creativity to every lesson? Develop a classroom environment that is conducive to creative thinking and builds knowledge using both divergent and convergent thinking.
Encourage students to take risks to question and to think of many possible solutions to everyday problems in all learning areas. Teachers can respond with, "That was a good solution, now what is another way?"
Cultivate independence and initiative so students are ready to develop new ideas independently. Creative problem solving and original thinking takes time to develop, and can start with a basic question of the day that is developed by students and answered by students.
Teachers can also ask provocative questions and present challenges to solve. Students should be allowed to present and attempt creativity in many ways as they are discovering and developing different ways of thinking.
Teachers are the gatekeepers of knowledge for students, and those teachers who have the responsibility of educating students with learning disabilities know that each student is creative in his or her own way.
Teachers should seek to open as many avenues as possible for students to learn and to communicate how they have learned, and they should seek ways to cause their students to think independently and find ways of knowing that will guide them into their future as successful learners. Exploring creativity with students will cause new ways for them to think and problem-solve, ultimately nurturing diverse aptitudes and abilities.
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