As learning becomes more software-driven, and cognitive offloading becomes more frequent via apps like ChatGPT and Google Bard, we are sure to see ‘soft skills’ (i.e., those skills unique to humans which cannot be replicated by computers) become more important for students to master.
Colin Salmon, Head of Faculty for Technology and Life Sciences at The City of Liverpool College, has this to say about AI and soft skills:
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about AI is that it will overtake soft skills such as creativity, critical thinking and emotional intelligence and, while AI can replicate certain tasks, it cannot yet replicate the human touch or the level of creativity that is required in many industries.Colin Salmon, Courtesy of FE News [Accessed April 2023]
Today, I’ve invited Jessica Robinson, educational writer at The Speaking Polymath, to share her insights and tips for getting the creative juices flowing with your students.
Introduction to Creativity in Students
Creativity involves breaking out of unexpected patterns in order to look at things in a different way.Edward De Bono
Creativity helps students use their imagination to their fullest. It helps them to learn new things by opening doors to new thoughts, emotions and expressions. This is the reason why it is important to foster creativity in young minds so that it can improve their future prospects. A student’s learning experience is enhanced when they put their own creativity into a subject, lesson, task or project.
Every student develops skills that reflect their own set of creativity. When they learn subjects using their creativity, it helps them to:
- Make learning fun
- Work upon their emotional quotient (EQ)
- Manage stress
- Boost critical thinking
- Improve communication skills
Let us discuss the 5 best ways educators can foster creativity in their students.
5 Best Ways for Educators to Foster Creativity in Students
#1: Engage students in activities that encourage creativity
In order to foster creative thinking, teachers need to engage students in activities that promote creativity. Though these activities, teachers should guide students to develop and improve their creative skills such as problem solving, innovation and communication skills through inquiry-based learning.
Let us consider an activity that fosters creativity in a student in the early years. Teachers can ask students to make different structures using building blocks. Students can bring in their creativity and make something that isn’t commonly made by students of that age. Teachers can tell students to creatively think upon the uses of the structures they have made.
Teachers can boost creativity in students when they actively engage students in learning activities. In addition to the above, other activities such as storytelling, writing poetry, generating musical ideas, completing the incomplete figure to create new figures, etc., also help to expand creative thinking skills.
These activities can help students to become more mindful and conscious of their creative skills in this manner. Teachers who encourage such innovative solutions foster creativity and flourish a genuine output. It is a teacher’s role to brainstorm a students’ mind in a positive way to foster curiosity and view varying perceptions and their impacts thereof.
#2: Think outside of the box
There is no denying the fact that the role of teachers is to encourage creativity in the classroom by allowing varying ideas to be welcomed and discussed. Allowing students to think outside of the box, beyond boundaries might help them in deciphering something unusual and new. But also, it is important to know that creativity is a skill that not every student is born with. It is the role of a teacher to help a student discover such capabilities. There are various methods to do so.
One method is where a teacher can challenge students by questioning them about the dynamic aspects of a topic and how outcomes can vary with changing inputs. Each aspect (input) could foster different levels of creativity in a student and help the student to engage in innovative learning methods that would be useful to develop problem solving skills.
A What-if Analysis can be an excellent way to foster creativity in students. A teacher can ask a student, “What if the prices of your favorite pizza in the market increases?” or “What if Covid persisted for a longer period of time? How would it have affected your education?” Pondering upon the asked questions, students would automatically start thinking over it, considering their own creative sense. Henceforth, it would encourage students to have a growth mindset and improve on their own personality traits.
3. Give constructive feedback
To give students the right direction for initiating creative processes, it is important for educators to provide them with constructive feedback. Appreciations and criticism, both form an integral part of feedback. It forms a great tool to induce ideas into a student’s mind.
Educators can relate giving constructive feedback to students with a Pareto analysis. The Pareto principle emphasizes on focusing on the 20% of work needed to achieve 80% of the output. Educators can foster creativity by letting students know which activities form the major portion that can help to deliver maximum output. With this belief, students can focus more on the 20% to achieve a lucrative output, through an educator’s valuable feedback.
The concept of constructive learning from educators helps in providing the right guidance to students for constructive learning and training methodologies.
There are 3 constructive feedback techniques that teachers might use in classrooms for an effective study environment:
- Feedforward – As coined by Marshall Goldsmith. While feedback focuses on past events, feedforward is the antonym for it. This approach helps educators or teachers to describe the correctness of future probabilities to a student with respect to the current solution of processing information. The main aim is to let a student know beforehand the adversity or favorability of their current performance and take their creativity in the right direction.
- DESC – Elaborating the abbreviation, DESC stands for describe, express, specify and consequence. It defines valuable feedback as elaborating to a student the reason behind what could have been done to improve upon the given solution. This fosters a way to diligently assess a student’s creative performance and establish effective standards to calculate the positive and negative effects of that performance.
- What & Why – This is the simplest of the above methods that can easily be applied in classrooms. Explaining to students, or asking them to explain, the What and Why ofa situation or outcome could enhance creativity.
#4: Promote the sharing of ideas
Sharing concepts in the classroom can broaden the range of viewpoints of the audience on a certain topic. Teachers should encourage such a classroom environment as it increases students’ productivity. It simultaneously fosters a competitive environment as each student is given a voice to shed light on their own creativity and spread it to others.
Instead of having a feeling of being judged and afraid of criticism, teachers encourage students by guiding them to increase their scope of improvement.
Sharing techniques used by teachers in classrooms to promote creativity are mentioned below:
- Think-Pair-Share – Brainstorming of ideas in pairs, writing those ideas and later sharing them with the entire class helps to indulge in and accept different perspectives and fosters creativity.
- Sticky-Note Storm – Thinking out of the box in small groups within a stipulated period of time helps to activate the brain cells and generate as many answers as possible.
- Quiz, Quiz and Trade – This activity is very good in engaging students to be as creative as they can. Teachers hand out cue cards to students and students exchange and circulate them to their peers. At last, whosoever is left with the number of cue cards gets to put in their creativity and answer those questions.
#5: Put breaks into routines
It is usual for students to feel lethargic with the same monotonous routine in their daily life. This situation has a direct impact on their creativity because creativity decreases with repetitive and unexciting methods of learning.
Teachers who acknowledge this bored atmosphere again and again in their classroom environment, can find ways to foster creativity in their students by not teaching in the same way, continuously.
Teachers can do something different from their routines and increase students’ creative thinking skills.
To conclude, creativity is one of the most important aspects of a child’s development and needs to be integrated in children from a very young age. Hence, it becomes the responsibility of the educator to foster creativity in children at a young age. That being the case, the above given tips can effectively help educators in making their students more creative.