How Can Schools Rekindle Creativity in Students?

      These aren’t easy times for anyone, but they’re particularly challenging in some key ways for young people. Enduring lockdowns and social restrictions is so much harder when you’re still developing and in dire need of exposure to the world around you. For much of the last year, kids have been forced to stay at home and rely on online learning. It’s an energy-sapping challenge.

   Now that things are slowly starting to open back up, the onus is on schools to make up for lost time as best they can, and central to that is rekindling creativity. Kids have become unmotivated and cynical due to the uncertainty lying ahead of them. If they’re to get back on track, they’ll need to be enthusiastic about what they’re studying. Here are some tips for how to prompt this:

Encourage complex hobbies

   While schools obviously aren’t responsible for shaping the home lives of their students, they can make every effort to influence them through introducing classes to hobbies that can enrich their free time. Getting started is always the toughest part, after all, and we all gravitate towards the familiar. By setting aside from school time to extol the merits of creative hobbies, you can make it far more likely that your students will try some new things.

   You could take half an hour for a short writing challenge, for instance, or bring someone in to go through some simple origami models. There are so many hobbies that can cultivate creativity, so take inspiration from the students themselves. What might interest them? What would they like to learn more about? It’s all about showing them the possibilities.

Invest in computer equipment

   You might think that more computer time is the last thing students need at the moment, but the issue with remote learning isn’t the technology involved: it’s the lack of in-person contact. It would be just as big an obstacle if you reversed the situation, allowing regular school gatherings but preventing kids from learning on their own time (and on their own terms).

   If you can, you should invest in computer equipment that students can take home with them. This will allow them to get through tasks more easily and pursue their own interests. If you don’t have the hefty budget that would allow you to get new laptops, consider buying used machines. Some, particularly lineups like ThinkPads and MacBooks, are built to last (you should always check the model number before buying a used MacBook, though, as models vary wildly).

  Another good area to invest in is ereaders. There are so many books available for free online, and many more available through subscription-based services like Kindle Unlimited. The more you can get students to read, the more they’ll encounter new ideas and new perspectives — and inspirational literature is the first step in the lengthy creative process.

Focus less on rote learning

   Relying excessively on memorisation has become a huge problem in the world of formal education, leading many students to fixate on remembering all the necessary details and facts, getting through their tests, then forgetting it all. This doesn’t build intelligence, and it doesn’t help creativity. Having a good memory is certainly worthwhile, but it shouldn’t be the focus.

   Instead, schools should be shaping their activities around getting their students to think and reach their own conclusions. A key ingredient here is rewarding unusual solutions instead of punishing students for finding alternative ways of approaching their tasks. That doesn’t mean supporting cheating, of course, but it does mean that someone who comes up with something new needn’t immediately be brought in line.

The more you can do to get students interested in the work they’re doing, the more you’ll nurture creativity. It’s going to take a long time to get the educational process back up to speed, but finding a route out of the malaise of the last year is the current priority. 

  Why not read our 'What Makes An Outstanding School?' blog next for more classroom inspiration?  

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