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Week 3B (Oct. 11-Oct. 17)- Creativity and Engagement

Is creativity a necessary ingredient for engagement?  Is it one way we might attemtp to engage?  Or is creativity misplaced in an academic and standards-based environment?

Below are a selection of videos about creativity in learning and in education. 

Select at least one video to watch

Think about the message and share your thoughts on how the speaker's ideas apply to engagement in the classroom (discuss in the comment section of this task). Interview one adult that you consider "creative."  Ask them what school did or did not do to help them develop their creative side. 

Share your findings with the group.

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity in Education (20 min. video).  Are Sir Ken's ideas something we can implement to increase engagement in schools?  How? Why should we?

Creativity 101 by Susan Keller-Mathers, Ed. D. at the International Center for Studies in Creativity. What can a person do to recognize and foster creativity? What does Dr. Keller-Mathers mean by "accepting ambiguity", and why would that engage students creatively?

Amy Tan, author of Joy Luck Club, speaks on creativity and points out the importance of ambiguity (24 min. video).  Is this idea about ambiguity something that can be fostered in schools? How?

Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, teaches us about the muse and creativity (19 min. video). Is there something in her speech that schools and teachers can use to increase and support creative engagement?


Cultivating Creativity in the Classroom, a slideshow by teacher Jamie Tubbs.

 Peter Senge on Creativity, a podcast by Karen Steffenson.  I am not sure I fully adopt Senge's ideas on creativity.  His position in this cast reminds me of quadrant two thinking in Covey's Seven Habits book. Which I like, but does not align entirely with creativity in my mind.

Task Discussion

  • Tracy Q   Oct. 17, 2011, 2:55 p.m.

    I did watch the video by Susan

    I found her comments the teacher as the engagment catalyst in the classroom ( or online classroom) very powerful.

    We have all unfortunately had teachers who don't want to be in the classroom and it shows.

    I enjoyed her comments on teachers knowing themselves and being comfortable in the classroom first-engaging students based on how you are creative as I agree that each of us is creative in some way-


    Very interesting and though provoking stuff-

  • Jessica Powell   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:16 p.m.

    Amy Tan’s presentation definitely made me think: is it always bad if we don’t know the answer? We want a specific formula or an exact way to accomplish something, but in reality, the discovering process (or the creative process) is more important than the outcome. A purpose is important, but not knowing what a purpose is can be an important part of truly fulfilling the purpose. Tan spoke on people’s desires to know the purpose of their life. It seems important that there *BE* a purpose to life, but finding tangible evidence to prove what it is seems intangible. She says that is okay. If we apply this on a smaller scale by correlating this back to student engagement, sometimes we spend too much time thinking of how to fix the lack of student engagement rather than addressing why it’s happening in the first place. Our purpose may be to fix the lack of student engagement, but along the way, there should be enough uncertainty that allows us to explore why the problem is happening not just from our stand point, but from the person it is happening to (in this case, the student (or students) who are not actively engaging in class).

    Also, we seem to always want to “fix” the lack of students’ responses, but could the lack of engagement actually be happening for a reason or a purpose? In a sense, this means that trying to figure out the answer is more important than knowing the answer. Thus ambiguity is important because the uncertainty means that there isn’t necessarily a “wrong” answer, or perhaps there isn’t even a specific reason behind what’s occurring. Each instance where student engagement is lacking requires a process to not only figure out the purpose of the lack of engagement but requires the one handling the situation to accept ambiguity as a variable in the equation; in other words, a person who wants to fix a problem has to accept the possibility that there may be not exact or tangible reason. It just is. Tan expresses that it’s actually a good thing when a situation has uncertainty in it. If each outcome was certain and simply fixed than there would be no need to creatively explore fixing the problem. She also reassures us that even if we cannot see a purpose behind what is happening that it is okay. In other words, just because we cannot find the purpose behind why students are not engaged, it doesn’t mean that we can’t help lead them back to engaging in the classroom.

  • Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:31 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Jessica Powell   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:16 p.m.

    My head is spinning from the ideas you have expressed.  If I am understanding you correctly, you are suggesting that part of creative engagement is accepting that engagement is ambiguous and that is a good thing?  Interesting. 

    I know as a creative person, I can sometimes appear unengaged when in fact I am processing.  I have noticed, over the years, that my "processing" appears to some folks as disengagement.  Is that what you are explaining here?

    I think creative thinking is an interesting counterpoint to many accepted principles regarding engagement.  What do you think about that?

  • Jessica Powell   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:42 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:31 p.m.

    I think that sometimes we are so focused on fixing all student disengagement that we don't stop to think, "Is this lack of engagement bad?" We want to find why a student is not engaging, when in reality, it may not be a good or bad thing. It just might "be." This uncertainty can be a good thing because it really makes us teachers stop and look to see, "Should we really intervene at this instance? Does it serve a meaningful purpose?" For example, perhaps a student is actually thinking about something we have spoken about just a minute before. Just because he or she is not actively engaging in what we are discussing now does not mean they are not actively engaged in the lesson.

  • Amanda   Oct. 17, 2011, 2:29 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:31 p.m.

    I love these questions and I love Jessica's points.  "Fixing" disengagement implies that it is always a problem, but sometimes I believe it is just processing that appears to be disengagement.  We must accept the idea of dissonance and ambiguity as vital to learning something valuable.  

  • Grant   Oct. 10, 2011, 11:38 a.m.

    I never really think of myself of a creative person and in Susan's video she talks about the teacher first having to be creative to make your classroom a more creative environment that allows the students to also be creative.  I believe this to be true and it pretty much opened my eyes a little bit to why when I ask my students to try something different and to allow their creativeness to come out, I don't get an overwhelming excited tone. 

    This video provided me some insight into what I should be doing to have a more creative classroom.  I am going to be more creative in my lessons and give my students the same opportunity.

    I think teachers can recognize and foster creativity by being flexible with how you accept assignments and to make sure to give kids choices when giving them projects or special assignments.  You still need to make sure you have student's hitting your goals and objectives but they can still be met in a creative manner.

    When Susan talks about accepting ambiguity I think she is talking about having students have that opportunity to have answers that could possibly be right because the questions are open ended and there are no correct answers.  This provides the students to give their own opinion which is a part of being creative.

  • Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:34 p.m.
    In Reply To:   Grant   Oct. 10, 2011, 11:38 a.m.


    My experiences with teaching art have led me to believe one of the more powerful things about art education is the lack of "correct" answers.  Students learn that their opinion matters and they need only to express their opinions and where their ideas originate to be "right."  I think often other subjects lean teachers toward right and wrong answers and that tends to shut down students for fear of failure.  Is that what you are talking about here?


  • Grant   Oct. 17, 2011, 9:26 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Bonita DeAmicis, Ed. D.   Oct. 16, 2011, 11:34 p.m.

    Yes, that is what I am exactly talking about.  Students are graded on how much they know.  This is something that needs to be done however; we sometimes lose the sense of teaching students to give their opinion, whether it is right or wrong.  Students need to get that opportunity to voice what they believe in so they may do it one day as a member of society.  They should also understand to respect other people's opinion even though it may be different than theirs. 

    It seems pretty simple but with all the standards and benchmarks that need to be meant in core courses it is hard sometimes to give student's these opportunities.