My first response to this question was a resounding YES! The more I thought about it though, I felt the distinction needed to be made between schools and our education system. Our education system is set up to educate large numbers of students within a tight budget and is not structured to foster creativity. As standardized testing becomes more rigorous, school districts become more data driven and creativity takes a less important role.
Schools, on the other hand, do not kill creativity. When we think about schools we need to look at the teachers within each classroom. Teachers work hard to fill their classrooms with engaging and creative activities. As teachers, we face the enormous challenge of providing our students with what we know they need and what our curriculum says they need. Our students have been programmed to find the right answer but Sir Ken Robinson points out that “If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original” (Robinson, 2007). Keeping this statement in mind let’s refer back to our education system and standardized testing. Standardized tests are all about finding the one right answer and students are measured by how many questions they get correct. “There is a reason why so many famous creators hated or dropped out of school –they did not like marching to someone else’s tune” (Gardner, 2007. p 83). Teachers have the ability to create open-ended activities for their students so that they can create their own tune for learning.
Digital media is a great tool for engaging our students and helping them create their own learning. Technology can be integrated into inquiry based activities and project based learning quite easily. I incorporated the flipped model into my classroom this year. I created a short video on the concepts of force and motion and then the students completed activities based on their level of understanding. When I was sure that they understood the concepts, they created their own investigations using the concepts they had just learned. The kids enjoyed this unit so much that other teachers came to find out what we were doing because the students were talking about it all week in other classes. Below you will find a copy of the learning contract I created for them and the video they watched to learn the content. This was my first attempt at covering the content in the time allotted by my curriculum document and giving the students choice into what they would investigate. As the school year went on, I was able to add more open-ended activities with less structure.
Gardner, H. (2007) Five minds for the future. Harvard Business Press Boston Massachusetts
Robinson, Ken. (2007). Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? – January 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2013 from YouTube Website: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html