Creativity: The Missing Ingredient to Developing Well-Educated Thinkers

boy being creative with Bracktiz

Since the dawn of mankind, our species has been compelled by a desire deep within us to create. It’s this creative force that enabled us to build the pyramids, envision democracy, and discover gravity. While knowledge may have supplied the framework of thought that allowed these contributions to come to be, it is only part of the total equation, with creativity being its integral second half. As world-recognized education expert Ken Robinson said in his TED Talk - which is now the most popular TED Talk of all time - “Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”. With all of the evidence for the importance of creativity in individual achievement and the well being of our society, fostering creativity in education should be an obvious priority for our school systems and for society as a whole.

Yet, that’s not what’s happening today.

In classrooms across America, students are being incentivized to put their creative development on hold in favor of simple knowledge retention, with standardized test scores serving as the arbiter of a student’s worth. Yet, there’s evidence that standardized testing fails to produce accurate results in areas such as mathematics achievement (Stake, R. E. 1995). Even if it did, can we really measure the value of an individual’s potential contributions or predict their future success by quizzing them on information that can readily be found on Google?

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In order to understand the answer to this question, we must first take a look at the state of creativity in education today and the effects that it has on our students and our society.

The State of Creativity in Education

Across the globe, nations are catching onto the importance of encouraging a creative approach to thinking. Some countries emphasizing creativity in education include Singapore, whose school system supports creative problem-solving in the classroom through the use of technology, or Korea, whose “Free Semester Program” allows students to a departure from the standard curriculum for a semester each year in order to explore their unique interests.

So how is it that the United States, a country typically seen as being progressive, is falling behind in terms of a creative education? Let’s take a look:

The Power of Universities

Universities the nation over have played part in crafting a social narrative that insinuates that one’s level of success in the world is a direct result of their success within academia - and we as parents, students, and business owners have bought into this myth. This gives universities tremendous power. As a result, the entire pre-university education system from 12th grade all the way down to pre-kindergarten is geared toward gaining acceptance into a university. This results in a rigid education system that rewards inside-the-box thinking and measures merit based on the feedback provided by standardized tests.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are roughly 50.7 million pre-college students in America’s public education system. That’s 50.7 million unique minds with unique predispositions, talents, and shortcomings all being un-creatively measured against the same rigid standard. This practice implies the assumption that all students can and should learn the same material at the same rate, which is neither possible nor beneficial in a society that requires a diverse and creative workforce in order to thrive.

In holding all students to the same, somewhat arbitrary standards, our Nation is failing our students and therefore itself. In its current state, America’s education system discourages the cultivation of unique skills that aren’t a part of the common core and limits creative problem-solving experience and ability. What it could be doing instead is protecting and promoting individual creativity in the classroom, thereby maximizing the success that each individual can achieve for themselves along with their utility to our society.

The Benefits of Incorporating Creativity into Education

Rather than grade the millions of individuals in our public school system against the same rigid standard, America has the opportunity to approach education in a manner that gives creativity the respect it deserves, allowing for a diversity of thought and abilities. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that a creative education has to offer:

  • Creativity as a Teaching Aid - Substituting creative activities for rote memorization allows students to learn math, engineering, and other skills in an interactive and fun manner. This increases participation and knowledge retention while helping students to improve their spatial skills, which is shown to set students up for later success in the STEM Fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Job Success - Spatial skills aside, having a developed creative aptitude by itself is enough to benefit students when it comes to success in STEM-related jobs among others. If you imagine two students with equivalent knowledge in a specific area but differing levels of creativity, you can clearly see how the more creative student would be a more adaptable worker, able to find creative solutions to problems as they arise and innovate within their chosen field.
  • Encouraging Uniqueness - Children aren’t robots. They’re not all made the same. Each child has unique skills, gifts, and inclinations that a creative education can nurture. Rather than nurturing these unique gifts, our education system is currently disposed to bring up under-performing students to levels deemed acceptable. This approach optimizes for legions of students who can perform on an average level across a wide range of subjects, which benefits neither the students nor the society they’ll go on to serve. On the contrary, an education system that places a larger emphasis on creativity could help create just as many students who excel in specific areas that they are naturally inclined towards and enjoy.
  • Inspiring Innovation - Incorporating creativity into education will loosen the firm boundaries of logical thinking, and suspend the limits of what students believe to be possible. It is in this place beyond the boundaries dictated by logic and reason that innovation occurs. Many great thinkers have relied on creative thinking for some of their greatest discoveries, including Albert Einstein, Watson & Crick, Nikola Tesla, and more.

For more expert opinions on the benefits of creative thinking and the impact that such thinking could have on and within our education system, check out our article “3 Great Thinkers On Creativity - And What Their Words Could Mean for Our Education System”.

Incorporating Creativity Into Education Using Construction Systems

Incorporating creativity into education will serve to strengthen our nation’s students as individuals and as future members of the workforce. It will help them learn the common core more effectively and is shown to support learning in a way that aids success in STEM-field careers (Henriksen, Danah, 2014). Just as important, a creative education will support each student’s uniqueness and individual well being, and foster a way of thinking that will lead to more innovation across fields.

But the addition of creativity into education can’t be done as an afterthought if we want to see real results. In order to effectively incorporate creativity into educational curriculum, we must weave it into the fabric of everything that we teach, re-structuring lesson plans to incorporate creative learning as an essential component.

An excellent way to do this is through the use of construction systems in the classroom. Construction systems are any building kits that children can use to create structures, and are an interactive and engaging way to teach STEM skills in a playful manner that encourages individual creativity.

The downside of most construction systems is that they are functionally limited due to design issues that restrict the user’s ability to connect and orient the pieces with complete freedom. They aren’t designed to express an unlimited range of creative ideas.

Brackitz was designed to transcend these limitations. Due to its unique and flexible connectivity capabilities, Brackitz allows children an endless variety of ways to creatively express themselves through adjusting length and using rotation and odd angles. Because Brackitz components offer children a fluid range of possibilities for where to attach pieces and how to orient the positioning of each piece, the opportunities for 3D creation and problem solving become truly unlimited.

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For more information on how to incorporate creative education through the use of construction systems, check out our article “6 Creative Ways to Use Brackitz Construction Systems in the Classroom”.

 Once looked up to around the world as progressive and innovative, the United States has since fallen behind as far as educating our nation’s youth in a way that’s most beneficial to them as individuals and our society as a whole. We as a country have given too much credence to our Universities and placed too much emphasis on degree acquisition and “leaving no child behind”. And our students are suffering as a result.

 But it’s not too late to turn this around. Seeing the positive impact that a creative education has on students, we can confidently move forward with developing lesson plans and incentives that foster creative thinking and shift our focus from grading students on a mass scale to systematically supporting the unique abilities of each individual, This will serve to improve the happiness and success potential of individuals within our education system, while simultaneously providing our workforce with new generations of creative, enthusiastic, and innovative workers for generations to come.

 


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