Will the Coronavirus Crisis Bring Creativity into Education?

Updated: Apr 26

In 1957 The Sputnik event caused a worldwide concern about the education of children. Academics were called for to make curriculum for schools in order to improve students’ outcomes. The vision was building societies excellent in science and technology. A highly organized system was developed to teach and to examine scores. During the last decades studying became so structured, that there was no breathing room for creativity.

In a conversation I had with peer creativity practitioners before the Florida Creativity Conference 2017, a question was raised: Does something need to happen to cause us to bring creativity into education?

I think the time has come. Now that schools are closed and kids are at home, we need creative solutions. On the other hand, we are home, available to notice children's creative qualities and amplify them. We and the children simply have more time.

Creative people are always learning when drawing and telling stories. This is one of the traits Dr. Robert “Alan” Black stresses as characterizing highly creative people. His list is based on thorough research examining the lives of prominent people who delivered great innovations, meant to draw on recommendations on what skills to foster to raise such creative thinkers.

Check out the list of traits of highly creative people for yourself and for the kids. You might be surprised that the children surpass you in the number of creative traits they shine with. That’s good! The best you can do for them and for yourself is to start seeing qualities where you once saw flaws. For example, daydreaming is imaginative and tolerant to ambiguity. With a good use of those attributes Einstein developed the Theory of Relativity.

Actually, Einstein's theory came out of a time of crisis, too. The physics world was at a dead end, when a young man, that didn't excel in school, spent his time thinking.

One more thing, I know parents are worried that children today are very sensitive. Notice that’s the first trait in Dr. Alan’s list of highly creative people! We need to start appreciating today’s kids. They are simply endowed with a brightness that is vital for the times they are living in and for the future they will shape.

So maybe we can let go a bit of curriculum. It is important. But if we could teach a little less and invite kids to participate a little more…

My Uncle, Dr. Moshe Rishpon was an elementary student at a small village in Israel some 80 years ago. His science teacher had no curriculum. To teach physics children measured and ran experiments in and around school with the simplest resources. The creative activities inspired my uncle so much that he established the Science Oriented Youth Department in the Weizmann Institute. This is today a worldwide leader in science education. Dr. Rishpon also inspired and created The Clore Garden of Science, an open-air interactive science museum. I am grateful that he helps me interweave curiosity for science into my stories and learning materials offered on Raising Creative Thinkers.

So how do we foster creative skills? Here is a very simple method. The 5 E’s core principle is going beyond introducing learning material and into the realm in which children develop the ideas they drew on. You can change the order of the E's. You can use just one or two E's. Play with it, like Einstein played thoughts.

What's important is to convey the message that mistakes are constructive. We're like scientists in a laboratory, developing by experimenting. Each mistake we are making gets us closer to bringing cure to the world.

The 5 E’s strategy:

1) Explore – introduce learning by stories, poems, art, and yes… short lectures.

2) Experience – Play with the new information so children begin to draw on their own ideas by conversations, free writing and drawing, experiments or any other experiential activities.

3) Examine – Check out the children’s ideas with them.

4) Elevate – Recommend how to turn the ideas into original products.

5) Express – Sit back and enjoy while the kids present their products.

How to use the 5 E’s for online learning:

1) Explore – Introduce a subject to be learned.

2) Experience – Converse with the students about the new information. Invite them to freely write and draw about it at home. Ignite them to further research about it. Run an online quiz. Demonstrate by watching a YouTube video together. Show them art that brings the subject to life. Ask if they have ideas for a game, quiz, PP presentation, or slideshow to deepen the understanding. If this is too much, ask them to study the subject a bit on their own, then send you an insight or something new they discovered on WhatsApp but limit it to 3 sentences. Something like a Twitter twit. That way they will have to focus. Enable the use of up to 3 emojis. They are the wonders of today’s highly effective communication. Pictures are also good, but just one.

3) Examine – Check out the kid's ideas.

4) Elevate – Recommend how to mold them into original educational products. Or just gather them up to share with the class on the next online meeting.

5) Express – Invite the students to say something about their products during the meeting. Add in emphasis on what each contributes to learning the subject. At the end the students will be exposed to all that you might have taught, if you just lectured. They would simply experience a much more meaningful learning, quality autonomous learning time, and a boost in creative confidence.

Before we part here is some news:

1) I am now officially part of the faculty of 3Dux Design University. Here is a link to activities about animal vision based on my book Creative Children Like the Animals of the World.

2) Invite kids to learn while expressing by drawing, writing and, coloring. Find lots of lesson plans in my best children's book social emotional learning book.

Good luck and enjoy,

Make learning creative. It will simply make things easier on you. And more rewarding.

Michelle Korenfeld

21st Century Project-Based and Social-Emotional Learning lesson plans, stimulating teacher training, teaching tools, and best children’s STEAM book