© 2017 by Michelle Korenfeld, Raising Creative Thinkers.

Structure for educating, not instructing nor obstructing


Do you think the school experience of students today is like the one you’ve had? Fact is the order of things is getting more and more structured, even bureaucratic.

When I was in middle school, they asked who wants to go to a native English speakers’ class. I went, and struggled to stay there until I graduated with quite good grades and an English as good as native English speakers’.

If there would have been a test to get admitted to that class, I would have failed. Can that happen today? Not sure. Today tests classify, and it’s very difficult to overcome those barriers. Sometimes they set students on paths they’ll have to follow all their lives. Luckily the path set for me was such that enabled me to be a part of global conversations. I think I wouldn’t have become an author, if I studied English in a regular class that focused on grammar rules. In the native English speakers class we read Time and Newsweek articles. Teaching was creative. Kids today are so creative. They are open to the world, majoring in Youtube. They need such teaching approaches.

Is structure serving standards? Or do we need to set ourselves higher standards – such that structure serves, rather then obstructs?

Curriculum has become over the years more and more structured, to the point it hinders teachers’ creativity. I believe we should believe in teachers. They are the ones to raise the students of the millennium. Let them teach based on what they perceive as necessary from their students. Then students will find the joy of learning.

Teachers must adhere to the demands of curriculum. They can’t teach flexibly responding to their students’ interests. Fixation causes stress. Sir Ken Robinson in “Out of Our Minds” writes that students today are under great pressure. On top of that, they are under great pressure not to show that they are under pressure. I’m very worried about the ramifications of that strain. In a recent conversation with students they described their feelings in school as uncomfortable. The feeling was of bending, rather than going chins up ready to explore.

My peacock paintings give the opportunity to converse about structural coloration.


Peacock feathers have no pigments. They have tiny structures that reflect light differently from different angles. Walk around a peacock feather directing the flashlight of your smartphone towards the “eye”, and you’ll see different colors as you move on.

The feathers' structure bring about creative and colorful iridescence. Something to think about.

Structure in schools should be the kind that supports diversity, flexibility, and shining through with true colors.

We should limit structure, let go a bit, to give breath for creativity.

The idea of creativity in schools is quite new. Or is it?

Here are some quotes from great thinkers, that nurture ideas on how to create learning environments for raising today’s bright creative thinkers:

“Part of teaching is helping people create themselves” Maxine Greene

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” John Dewey

“A sense of responsibility in teaching pushes us constantly to think about and promote the best interests of our students. In contrast, the demand for accountability often induces mere compliance.” Nel Noddings

My contention is, first, that we should want more from our educational efforts than adequate academic achievement and, second, that we will not achieve even the meager success unless our children believe that they themselves are cared for and learn to care for others. Nel Noddigns

Creativity takes a positive and open state of mind. Creativity doesn’t flourish in a space of structure that requires frontal instruction focusing on test scores. As students and teachers are persons, educating should become more personalized.

We all know that schools are structured as enterprises. We need to make education a humane endeavor. We’re going to have enough robots in the future, as it is. Let go of structure. Let humanity come into the corridors and classrooms. And Let’s do it this school year!

Learn more about creative learning materials and creative learning environments!

Yours truly,

Michelle

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