“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
This month’s topic is creativity – an interesting, fascinating, captivating but challenging topic. I consider it interesting and fascinating because creativity deals with the brain a lot and it depends on how much we use or have been trained to use this part of the brain which stimulates it. I consider it challenging because it is not so easy to write about a concept that is so familiar to all of us. Somehow creativity brings people together, it motivates them to be (more) interested in what they are doing, because being creative gives them hope that things will improve at one point or another. Creativity seems to “spice” our lives, as it boosts our level of energy, of involvement and dedication in everything we do, it gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone and makes life funnier, more interesting, more dynamic and more energetic. Creativity works as an energiser for many of us. We seem to do creative things without really being aware of it, because we do it in a natural way. Steve Jobs once said that “creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
Imagine that we wouldn’t benefit from so many wonderful things nowadays if it weren’t for creative, curious, inventive and persevering people. Due to these qualities mankind enjoys nowadays the benefits of science, technology, informatics, chemistry, physics, mathematics integrated in other domains.
Having said all these, one question occurs to the me: how does creativity help teachers and then students? Why is it so useful to them?
Well, as far as I am concerned, a creative teacher manages to stir their students ‘interest in the activities they do, to keep them involved and concentrated for a longer period of time and they help their students love the subject he / she teaches.
Moreover, creativity develops divergent thinking – an intellectual process of generating multiple related ideas for a given topic or multiple solutions to a problem. Divergent thinking helps students to be spontaneous, unusual and creative – in a phrase “think outside the box”. Integrating divergent thinking strategies into English teaching strategies leads not only to the development of the cognitive skills, such as: observing, questioning, comparing, contrasting, imagining, hypothesising, but also to the enhancement of the four divergent thinking abilities, i.e. flow of ideas, elaboration of solutions, originality and flexibility.
It is said that a picture equals one thousand words; I go further by adding that an example equals a few pages of theory. Therefore, I’m going to list some different methods a teacher can use in the class to enhance and stimulate the students’ creativity and I’m going to talk about some of them: brainstorming, mind mapping, group work (collaboration in class), projects (collaboration outside the class), starbursting, thinking hats, multi-voting, round table, group interview, the critical incident, Philips 6/6, 6/3/5 Technique, the creative controversy, Fishbowl, Four corners, Frisco Technique, buzz-groups and Delphi Technique. All these techniques have a few main advantages, which are essential in our students’ development.
- They stimulate students to get involved actively in a task, thus becoming more aware of the responsibility they have.
- In order to make the best decision students need to analyse attentively;
- They activate and use their knowledge, they practice different skills and abilities in various contexts and situations.
- They are student – centred.
- They discourage students to study only when they need a good grade.
Starbursting is similar to brainstorming. It begins by writing the concept in the middle and spreading questions, like a burst of stars. When one has written the problem to be discussed, the others list a number of questions connected to it. The first questions to be asked would be: What?, Who?, Where?, Why?, When?. These questions generate other unexpected questions, which require more concentration.
Starbursting stimulates both individual and group creativity, involves everyone in the group and leads participants to thinking of other questions at the questions they have already asked.
It is easily applicable to every age and a wide variety of domains. It doesn’t require detailed explanations and it’s a source of new discoveries.
6/3/5 Technique is similar to brainstorming too. New ideas are written down on the sheets of paper which are handed on from one participant to another. That’s why it is also called brainwriting. How does this technique happen?
- 6 members in each group who write down on a piece of paper
- 3 solutions each for a given issue in
- 5 minutes (meaning 108 answers in total in 30 minutes in each group).
This method has many advantages:
- it encourages shy students to talk more and to express themselves;
- it stimulates building “idea over ideas”;
- it enhances communication within the members of the group and competition between groups;
- it develops certain abilities, such as: analyzing the others’ ideas, comparing, synthesizing, generalizing and certain superior thinking processes, such as: imagination, creativity and attention.
However, despite the many advantages I have mentioned above, it has a few disadvantages:
- it constraints students to respond in limited time;
- students may be influenced by the previous solutions, fact which could block their creativity.
SINELG Technique develops critical thinking. It is efficient as it makes students focus while reading a text. This technique starts by reviewing the previous knowledge and designing some questions and it goes on by classifying different types of information found in the text. SINELG enables students to monitor their level of understanding the text as they keep on reading. After they finish the text, they annotate it based on the following criteria: “What I already knew” (v), “What I knew differently” (-), “This piece of information is new” (+), “What does it mean?” (?). In my opinion, in order to make it more visible and easier to work with the text, students could use a different colour for each criterion.
Fishbowl Technique happens in the following way: the chairs are arranged in the room in 2 concentric circles before the students come in. When they come in, they choose their favourite seat. The students who are in the inner circle are given 8 – 10 minutes to discuss an issue. During the discussion they clarify and consolidate; each and every opinion should be supported by evidence; each speaker agrees with the one who has spoken beforehand and brings further arguments. If a speaker doesn’t agree, he / she must bring arguments to support their opinion.
Meanwhile, the students in the outer circle listen to the discussion and jot down notes connected to relationships, consensus, atmosphere within the group, conflict, talking strategies. Later on, students switch places – students from the inner circle go into the outer circle and vice versa. Teacher can play various roles: observer, participant, consultant, supporter, referee, reporter, guide.
Last but not least, another captivating way of enhancing students’ creativity is ice breaking exercises. Therefore, today I played a game with some of my students. I asked them to imagine that the week would have 8 days instead of 7. They work in groups of 3 to find a name for the 8th day of the week. Here are their answers and justifications for each of the answers:
- Sendday (God sent an extra day on Earth);
- Sungoodday (because it’s the best day of the week);
- Friendship day (because this day they will talk or play with their friends);
- Pollution day (nobody is allowed to pollute in any way during this day).
To conclude, without creativity in our lives we wouldn’t enjoy life and it simple pleasures and we wouldn’t manage to make the ones around us happy or even smile. So, keep in mind that ” great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” ( Henry Thomas Buckle) So, it is up to each of us to choose to discuss ideas, because smart and ideas make good things happen.