How many ideas are wiped from our whiteboards (and the students’ minds) every day. How does our education system foster these ideas? Does it allow for creativity and ideas to be developed?
4 Key Takeaways:
- What happens when we give time to ideas?
- Break the mould.
- Tap into the talent.
- Fail again, fail better.
About Eva Acton:
Biology, Chemistry and LCCS teacher. Raspberry Pi Certified Educator & CS first tutor.
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By Eva Acton
This seed was sown for this blog in a bustling computer room. It was BT young scientist application time; thirty students, one teacher, the room a hive of activity. Each student working in small groups perfecting their applications. Somewhere in all of this noise, I overheard a discussion of SnapChat and how it was now becoming passé, but that students are continuing to use it because, well, what else is there?
I chimed in on this conversation, suggesting that they should come up with the “next big thing”.
“My goodness, with the crew in front of me, surely you could come up with something better than SnapChat or Facebook?!?” Within moments these students began to collaborate in a way I had never witnessed before. Pitching ideas back and forth, building on each other’s suggestions, this impromptu “think in” had a fluency, urgency and excitement to it that one does not encounter often.
All the while I had one ear on the ideas and one on the applications. I often reflect on what the outcome may have been if I had given those students both ears. These students were passionate about their ideas, and I believe they were driven not just by the relevance of the topic, but also the ownership. This was theirs. I had not dictated to them, I had not lectured, I had merely believed that they could and so they did.
That was, until the bell tolled. They picked up their bags and jackets and left the classroom; leaving with it their ideas. Those ideas may have been worth millions yet they were wiped off the board, ready for the next class to make its way in. My creative entrepreneurs became Pavlov’s robots, shuffling mindlessly to the next preordained wedge of ‘education’.
I began to think, how many other ideas are wiped from our whiteboards (and the students’ minds) every day. How does our education system foster these ideas? Does it allow for creativity and ideas to be developed?
In my opinion, as it currently stands, we do not. Each moment is mapped out from when the students enter the classroom to when they leave. Although this ‘set menu’ philosophy may be beginning to evolve in the Irish education system, will it be too late for the students of today, who need these creative, problem-solving skills more than ever? By its definition, different isn’t normal, and we as a society quash and quell ideas which stray away from the norm, with only the brave stepping out from the mould. The conformity of the normal is streamlining our thought processes, and it is beginning right at the heartbeat of society, the classroom.
My idea, such as it is, is simple. Make room in that mapped out, pre-planned timetable for ideas: safe spaces to think to foster those ideas, helping and encouraging students to inspire, to build and to create.
Equally, students must learn to fail. Every idea will not work, but you have been given the chance to try to engage with creativity and to embrace your ideas. This can start out small, and heavily linked to the current topic being covered in your subject, but can grow in a nurturing environment to unlock the potential of our youth, which is of course, limitless.