April (2014)
March (2014)
January (2014)
December (2013)
Stay Hungry!
How We Grade
November (2013)
September (2013)
August (2013)
May (2013)
April (2013)
March (2013)
February (2013)
January (2013)
Creative Literacy
This past November I wrote a post titled Creative Capital and Innovation, encouraging Proctor's faculty and students to set aside more time for innovation by de-structuring parts of the academic day. While we recognize massive changes to the academic schedule will not take place immediately, another article, Is Creativity the Next Essential Literacy?, warrants more discussion on the topic during the 100th blog post on the Academic Lens.

With the introduction of the iPad as a school wide learning tool for the 2013-2014 school year, many of our conversations in and around faculty meeting have focused on technology and digital literacy. Ten years ago, the concept of digital literacy as a core component of high school education was not as widely embraced as it is today, but without a doubt, students must graduate with technology skills that will not only prepare them for college, but allow them to remain competitive in an ever advancing workplace.

So where does this concept of creative literacy fall as we work to define the skills an ideal "Proctor graduate" would possess? Creativity is obviously a skill we value highly at Proctor, but how do we we ensure our students know we value creativity as much as we say we do? In short, how do we teach creativity in the classroom?

We know that many of our courses focus heavily on student creativity. Social Activism, Architectural Design, all of Proctor's 39 art electives, among other courses, allow for, and rely on, student creativity throughout the course, and especially on final assessments. But how do we teach creativity across the board?

The aforementioned article notes, "The are a lot of articles/blogs popping up regarding creativity and can it be taught. I am not sure I fully believe it can be taught, but it can be coaxed out of students…If we move from a test centered education system to a learning centered education system, then imagination and creativity will flow freely."

Many articles and blogs on education compare an ideal state of learning to the widely used public school model. At Proctor, we have the luxury of having lived and taught in an educational environment that long ago diverged from traditional educational models. Yes, we still have formal classrooms and most classes use textbooks as reference materials, but many of the similarities end there.

Methods of assessment, over which there is constant conversation at the administrative and faculty levels, are varied, often asking students to demonstrate knowledge through culminating projects rather than on multiple choice exams. Teachers and students interact without many of the barriers that exist other places. Extra help and one-on-one attention are regularly provided by teachers. The list of differences between a Proctor education and a traditional model is immense. 

As we enter the final two weeks of the Winter Term, we must look back at the last twelve weeks of learning and ask ourselves, did we value creativity in such a way that those looking at us from afar would see it as an essential literacy? Perhaps in certain areas we have, but I would argue that we can still do more. We can ask more of our students and teachers in terms of creativity and critical thinking.

We can give students the reigns to their own learning as long as we are able to create a learning environment where students will push themselves harder than teachers would otherwise push them; We can create a school where students allow their brain to explore, question, and apply knowledge freely, without inhibition or fear of being 'wrong'. We can create a school from which students graduate having the confidence to solve real world problems because they have been forced to repeatedly do so as part of their high school curriculum. We can create a school that values creativity as a core competency, not merely as a nice perk that is derived from the art or creative writing curriculum.

This is the type of school we hope each of our students experiences while at Proctor. Many of are students are having the type of experience described above, while others are still learning how to express themselves freely within the context of our classrooms. The same goes for our faculty as we continually look to each other for motivation and innovation in the classroom - more on that to come on Thursday's blog post!
Proctor students must graduate with certain literacies, not the least of which is the ever evolving concept of digital literacy.
But, should creative literacy be included in that list?
How do you teach creativity? Perhaps by continually coaxing it out of students through projects and evaluations that force students to think outside the box.
Proctor has a long history of embracing creative expression through learning and evaluation, but we can still do more.
As we enter the final two weeks of the Winter Term, including final exam week, we reflect on what we have taught our students over the past twelve weeks, and how much we have valued creativity in our curriculum.