Every child is an artist...The problem is staying a child when you grow up!" Pablo Picasso

As schoolroom classes open across America, Picasso's quote encapsulates one of American education's main problems: the instruction of 21st century learners without the destruction of their innate creativity. Master potter and Professor Emeritus Marvin Bartel of Goshen University often recites the story of a highly creative kindergarten student who came to school the first day and drew the birds he had seen on the playground at lunch. This student's birds were rocket-like in form with aerodynamic spreading wings and flame-like tails aimed on an upward trajectory toward the summer-hazed sky. The teacher made no comment; no notice was taken of these exceptional drawings. However, when asked to draw a bird after two weeks of counting worksheets with stereotypical drawings of birds as two simple curves connected without a body, THAT is what the student drew!  How quickly and silently we often indoctrinate our young learners into to the world of concrete terminologies, one-answer or one-way thinking, leaving behind their own creative world of personal vision and intuitive learning.

From a recent six-part series on "Creativity in the Classroom" I quote a simple list of ways to nourish creativity without stifling it. To educate students of any age, CREATIVITY MUST BE:  

  • Defined 
  • Permitted
  • Developed
  • Discussed
  • Displayed 
  • Rewarded and above all...
  • Expected and
  • Respected

In past blogs, I have written about ways to define creativity, to permit it, and to actually list its rights and responsibilities.  Now the next most important step is to develop it by noting great examples of it, discussing and displaying it.  How much time would it take for the teacher of that kindergartener to post those first bird drawings on a blank board entitled "Keep an Eye Out for Creativity", or to hand that student a small premade certificate for creative expression, and then simply note the achievement to the class? Or to ask for class input, discussion, or other ways to represent flying birds? One example of rewarding it, saying it is expected, and showing respect for creativity are sure-fire ways to nurture it.

If you have ideas on how to reward and display creative works taking up little time or space, please forward them here.  We all will benefit the creative cause and keep it alive in our learners.