Evolving Thoughts on Creativity in the Classroom

With my boys in a school with a reputation for being traditional in its approach, I have struggled with my desire for more creativity in the classroom. I worry about whether they are encouraged or empowered to be innovative. I stress…

…until this evening at dinner when I realized that my kids are far more creative than I ever was.

My fourth grader is about to start a month of curriculum focus on Africa. Each student will be assigned a country and report on it. I love this project and, at dinner tonight, told the boys about my sixth grade studies of Africa and South America. Even then, I loved sixth grade because of these projects, our ability to get creative with them, and our chance to shine. We were instructed to choose a personality or character, and as that character, write letters home about our travels across each continent.

“Who did you pretend to be?” asked my third grader.

“I was a newspaper reporter,” I answered, excited to tell them more.

“What?” they all shouted at once, “that is so lame!”

“But that’s what I wanted to be when I grew up,” I answered back.

“Mom, you could have been a Level 5 Archer!”

“Yeah!”

Level 5 Archers are in a video game called Clash of Clans.

“You could have traveled across Africa and used your archery skills to kill a man-eating lion!”

“Yeah!”

“And you wanted to be a newspaper reporter? Really?”

And then the rest of their conversation continued without acknowledging my existence at the table.

“Or she could have been a Skylander and used her magic powers to get water in the desert.”

I thought, “that would have been good.”

“Or she could have flown across the continent.”

“Mom, you really wanted to be a newspaper reporter?”

“Yeah Mom, you should have done better than that!”

“You didn’t get a good grade, did you?”

I did.

“Or you could have been a NFL quarterback!” realized the third grader who loves football.

“Skylander!” shouted the five year old.

“But a Level 5 Archer is the best.”

“How about a Level 6 Archer?” asked my husband just to stir the pot.

“No such thing.”

Apparently, they are doing okay in the creativity spectrum. Maybe I am wrong about their school. Maybe we are all wrong about video games. Maybe fifth grade is when you lose your natural creative edge over the rest of us. Or maybe my kids are just instinctively cooler than me. Either way, I wish I could go back to sixth grade and do it all over again. My head is spinning with ideas… and none of them include a newspaper reporter.

Oh to fly across Africa with magic powers and archery skills!

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