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Super great and controversial sustainability-themed “Do Now” writing prompt last week. Students wrote it first with minimal background knowledge, and then I gave them the article “Meat Minus the Moo” from Muse magazine, which they devoured to try to find evidence to back their opinions. Most of them ended up modifying their opinions, sometimes drastically.
This is what one 8th grade boy wrote pre-article. (This caliber is not reflective of all the students)
Today was 5/8/13 (in the American style of dates, anyway, which we can argue about another time)!!!! That’s part of the Fibonacci sequence!!! 1…1…2…3…5…8…13…21…
How did you guys almost let me forget this?!?
You guys like pigeons? Here’s some Fibonacci pigeons.
Can’t believe I didn’t celebrate this properly!
I love them all except for the top left. “Something that some are blessed with and others are not”?! I think there’s already too much of a problem of some kids thinking, “Oh, well, I’m not creative,” and then just giving up. Some people may just have a knack for divergent thinking, but I think that teachers should go into the classroom believing that ALL their students are “blessed with creativity.” The questions, then, become: “How do I, as the teacher, help cultivate a classroom culture of creativity?” and “What sort of classroom climate best nurtures the development of student creativity”
Cultivating this type of culture is not necessarily easy; it means creating a setting where intellectual risk-taking is valued more than textbook-correct answers, where failure is recognized as a vital part of the process, where half-formed ideas can flourish. Innovative, out-of-the-box work often takes more time and effort than coming up with simple answers. If kids believe that producing routine, correct answers is what is expected and rewarded, that will be their goal. If we want their goal to be Creativity, then Creativity — in all its chaos and and craziness — must be the expectation.
Always be curious.
If I ever find a way to reliably reignite the innate curiosity ten years of schooling has snuffed in so many of my students, then I’ll be the teacher I wish to be.
Too many kids I know are uncomfortable with uncertainty and the unfamiliar. They do not trust their own instincts. They fear discovery, unnatural as that seems to me. That is not to say they are satisfied with not knowing— I don’t think it’s true— but they are convinced the dark is their lot.
They see the trail ahead, sometimes. They see others on it, and, so it seems, an imaginary warning erected over time: keep out.