EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article is excerpted from EdTech Digest’s brand-new guide for educators’s and parents, The State of The Arts, Creativity & Technology 2020. As a note to educators, it serves as an introduction to this resource and a general overview of creativity, its integral role in learning, and how digital tools might support instructional efforts. We hope you find this useful and as always please let us know what you think! We’ll be producing many more guides in the weeks and months ahead.
Fostering Student Creativity
Facing and embracing the next defining frontier in teaching and learning.
NOTE TO EDUCATORS | by Mark Gura
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Creativity, the active ingredient in innovation, is an orientation, a way of responding to the world, a skill set, and importantly, something that individuals can learn and develop. Even more to the point, it’s something that really must be learned by those who will live and prosper successfully as we move further into the 21st Century.
Simply stated, our times have us facing an increased degree of change which is coming at us at a rapidly increasing pace. Along with changes come problems, a high percentage of which now require new responses to surmount them. What sorts of problems? Economic, political, societal, health and medical – we are facing new problems in every corner of our lives. Creativity is a quality that successful individuals will need to apply to these.
“Very prominent in this body of resources are digital tools that truly support students in developing their creativity.”
Educators, consequently, really must make Creativity a priority learning goal and see to it that it’s a facet of thinking and working that is well developed in their students throughout their education. Unfortunately, this is a new realization that educators are coming to and there is little history, little body of practice, and little expertise on which to draw.
True, schools have flirted with Creativity through Arts Education. But even before educators can do much to make the nurturing of Creativity part of the instructional program, they must become clear about what creativity is and how it works. And, the clear truth is that much of what’s taught in the arts has to do with appreciation, history, and craft—and not necessarily in fostering Creativity in students. And then again, the Arts, one of the few bright spots in the general curriculum in which Creativity is the focus at times, have been cut and marginalized, anyway.
The good news is that in recent years there have emerged resources, practices, bodies of thought and knowledge, and more that today’s educators can rely on to get themselves up to speed on Creativity and how to integrate it across their teaching practice. Very prominent in this body of resources are digital tools that truly support students in developing their creativity.
These work in a multitude of ways, among them supporting students in focusing on, researching, and organizing their creative projects; in making possible the easy creation of sophisticated and ‘professional’ products and performances that result from their creative efforts; as well as publishing and sharing them effectively and broadly with authentic audiences.
Educators need guidance, though, in finding, in understanding, and in applying all of this. And they need support and assurance that they are on the right track and are serving their students well as they prepare them for the Creativity hungry world they will inherit.
Let’s resolve to do what’s necessary and effective to support teachers and students in this crucially essential, yet often under recognized mission.
Mark Gura is Editor-at- Large for EdTech Digest and author of Make, Learn, Succeed: Building a Culture of Creativity in Your School (ISTE). He is a co-author of State of EdTech: The Minds Behind What’s Now and What’s Next. He taught at New York City public schools in East Harlem for two decades. He spent five years as a curriculum developer for the central office and was eventually tapped to be the New York City Department of Education’s director of the Office of Instructional Technology, assisting over 1,700 schools serving 1.1 million students in America’s largest school system.
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