Updated: Jul 23, 2020
There is a gap between society and schools. Society is entrepreneurial. Maybe we as educators should adapt such an approach? What is it that entrepreneurs do? They are professional problem solvers. Approaching change from a creative problem-solving approach means accepting that mistakes are made along the way at all the levels.
At the classroom – students are welcome to make mistakes and learn from them. Teachers can mistake. Accepting that lets them be human and grow professionally according to feedback from colleagues and students.
A mistake simply means a mis-take – a misunderstanding or a detour taken leading back to the path to excellence. This kind of attitude means that school leaders, teachers, parents and students grow based on empathetic feedback.
This kind of approach gives space to creative learning tasks. What could such tasks be? If a student is better at researching – let them research part of the learning material. If a student is a good speaker – let them do the presentation of this material. If a student is good at Power-point – let them prepare the slides. If a student has an interest that helps them find certain learning material relevant – let them write about it or present it to the class. Personalized and collaborative learning blend toward meaningful results.
The whole class is a learning group. This is a great way to make learning relevant. What students need is guidance on how to approach the tasks and how to solve problems. And in relation to solving problems, just remember to let go of the rope. It’s a great way to fill up with hope. Sometimes when we just let go a bit, things settle down. This tip and an attitude of seeing where the other person is coming from and reacting empathically are your greatest tools. The flexibility of mind gives space for growing toward excellent achievements.
What should we consider when creating creative learning environments?
In creative environments it is vital to accept that learning is connected to emotions. Focusing on acquiring knowledge is technical. To make learning meaningful we need to see the whole child, and that includes emotions.
Here are 5 aspects for interaction supporting creativity from the perspective of taking emotions into account:
Shared learning – such that in a pair or a group each student contributes aspects of the learning material. The good thing about such learning is that it enables children to make friends. Friends are more than peers. Friends are there for intimacy, and kindness and warmth. To make learning creative, just take the tasks a step further, and invite students to incorporate expression of their feelings based on life experiences into the products.
Care ethics environment – Nel Nodding’s ethics of care is the basis for a creative learning environment. It means that relationships between students and between them and the teacher are reciprocal. Teachers that care are interested to learn from the students what their needs are, and then set to fulfill those needs. In times of conflict or tiredness, when the teachers can’t care naturally, they reinforce ethical caring inspired by a model of caring in their mind. The creative environment in class is such that students can choose learning tasks. They draw their learning objectives together with the teachers.
The class as a group – the class is a working group which has mutual inter-dependencies. Yet, it is important to remember that participation in such a group is mandatory. To work together toward the goal of successful learning, it’s best to let all children, no matter what gender or ethnicity, give something of themselves to learning. To make the tasks creative invite students to produce compositions or presentations weaved with expressions of their feelings, insights and ideas. Just make sure to set a respectful climate so the feedback they receive from their peers grows their self-confidence.
Self image – There are ideal images of the teacher and of the students. Trying to act upon them takes a lot of efforts. We as teachers need to be authentic to ourselves to model authenticity for the students. Both we and the students have roles to play. But if acting according to roles makes us feel bad about ourselves we’re in trouble. Being true to ourselves is important for creativity since original ideas are intuitive. They come when we act naturally. A good way to connect to ourselves is by connecting with nature. I hope my painting Flourishing Bouquet helps you with that.
The physical environment – when we move the furniture for shared learning or creative tasks we create flexibility of the mind as well. Those instances may cause some noise and children moving around. However, this is good for creativity because thinking goes together with movement and sound. Here’s another tip: How about hanging students’ creative products on the walls? That’ll make them feel proud and inspired. This is also a good idea for high-school students. You can hang finished products, but also ones that are in the process of making. Students will glance at them occasionally, and ideas will pop up as to how to develop the products further.
What are the roles of teachers and learners in creative environments?
The 5 E’s serve to simplify the changing roles:
Explore – their own abilities, interests and needs to communicate them to teachers.
Experience – The fruit of this communication are creative learning tasks with which students are welcome to experience.
Examine and Elevate – The students need to examine their skills while meeting the new challenging learning tasks and elevate them.
Express – Learners communicate this process to the teachers, being given advice on how to elevate the learning skills toward elevating their tasks. They present their products to the class to elevate the learning of all the class.
Explore – We need to talk with the students individually or to attain written information from the students to learn what their interests and needs are.
Experience – The fruit of this communication are learning tasks relevant to the specific student or group of students.
Examine and elevate – We need to be attentive as to the progress of students and think of the best advice on how to get better.
Express – The teachers need to communicate this feedback to the students empathetically helping them grow as learners. Another important aspect is to build a creative climate with our colleagues that will enable us to talk about the new learning tasks in our classrooms and learn from each-other’s experience.
To sum up
Nobody wants change. But humans adapt to change so quickly. Children adapt best. Maybe we should learn from them about learning and changing while in motion, communicating about needs and sharing tips for better meeting the challenges. This, again, is an entrepreneurial approach. While in motion, we explore the virtues of our students to accommodate creative learning tasks for them, and we learn from our colleagues’ experiences. We examine what each student contributes to the learning of all the class and elevate the experience. And we express empathically first what we are fascinated with and then what could be elevated. This is in sum the creative problem-solving changing roles of teachers and learners in creative learning environments using the 5 E’s. Embracing it as an approach to life is a creative task of its own that is well worth the efforts toward flourishing success.
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I wish you many educational mistakes. It's OK to mistake. It's just not OK not to learn from our mistakes. My family raised me with a lot of tolerance to my mistakes. And I kept having the confidence to make them. But I only do a mistake once. So, maybe I wouldn't have become an Amazon author if I was too shy to do something wrong. Well, "wrong" is another disputable word. Isn't it?
And with that,