Reclaiming the “Creative” in the English/Literacy Classroom

Creativity is not always entirely comfortable for people. It comes from the makeup of all the experiences we have accumulated over the years and reproduces itself through all aspects of our lives. Though we often times equate creativity with “artistic” classes like music or painting, or segregate it from standard English classes and call it “creative writing” or “imaginative fiction and poetry,” the truth is that creativity is fundamental to our economy and is the reason for the prosperity of our businesses and cities in general. Creativity is broken down into two sizes: “Big-ticket” creativity, which usually causes major innovations in particular domains and often times makes those persons (authors, Nobel winning scientists, policy-governing economists, etc...) successful, famous, or rich; and “Little-c creativity,” the universal creativity that we can all show in everyday life.  Though aesthetic learning helps to develop students cognitively in profoundly significant ways, it has recently been assumed that America has divorced the Arts from the school curricula. Funding for these classes have been drastically cut and entire programs are often times ended simply because these classes are not considered to be as important to education as other programs.

Teachers must be called to use creativity in a classroom atmosphere in order to more fully aid student learning to solve problems by making connections that are frequently intuitive. After school, students can use these skills to make money in the real world. Teachers must then realize the importance of fostering imaginative uses of language and consider creativity to be directly responsible for human interaction and thinking's effect on our culture and society, rather than passing it off as simply a hobby or pleasure. By teaching to exercise the “undermind,” or the intelligent unconscious, intelligence is created to become “the ability to make innovative responses to emergent circumstances.” This idea addresses a big problem in our school's way of teaching. Often times, creativity is sacrificed for a more positivist education, where kids spend the majority of their time learning the logical, mathematical “truths” we feel are important. But students who learn to think creatively become more independent, open to new ideas, interested in discovering things for themselves, and are generally more willing to work on their own time to pursue new ideas or visions. As a result, their pace of learning, levels of achievement, and self-esteem increase. This is what we need to teach those in our schools. If we are just to teach students basic principles in English, math, science, and history, all we are doing is preparing them to fit in to our society by giving them the knowledge we feel is essential for sustaining in a job market. If we emphasize creativity in our curricula, we are preparing students to change society to fit their ideas of prosperity and success through their abilities and talents.

For instance, when writing papers for different literature topics, many students are taught the structure they should conduct their essay in: an introduction with a solid thesis, three paragraphs that show examples to support the thesis, and a conclusion to tie everything back to the main point. While this way of writing papers is generally taught to many students, it becomes tedious for a teacher to read thirty or more papers that are almost identical to an extent. If students learn to apply creativity to those same papers, much more elaborate connections will be made as each student is unique and will use their own aesthetics to create a more interesting paper. Creativity can come across in discussions and arguments as well, and can help students to fuse together many different ideas and values from their peers around them in order to create their own perspectives on specific topics.

Creativity is the key to success. If we use our schools to foster creativity, our economy and society will flourish. Problems will be solved and advancements will be made. But if we continue down a road to promote our students to follow mindless rules and guidelines, our culture will become stagnant and surely decline. Aesthetic learning must then be promoted to ensure the survival and betterment of our way of life, as students will learn to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and to cope with change and adversity. 

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