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Creativity in the Chilean Classrooms

By Juan Pablo Cceres


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes (Scott Adams).

When I think about how creative students are, I cannot stop thinking
about my students at school, and how they respond to the different tasks that we
as teachers assign to them. They often complain; almost instantly, when a task
requires the use of personal ideas, as opposed as the use of exercises with a
specific structure and a modelled answer. I can infer that my students are used to a
Teacher Centred Approach, where knowledge is merely transmitted to the students
without giving much chance to a critical analysis of the contents. With all this in
mind, I wonder; can we as teachers break the mould and develop a creative
thinking in our students?
According to Osborne (1963), creative thinking can be developed
through practice, leaving aside the idea that creativity is an innate talent, and
people without this faculty, will not be able to develop it. So, in a society where the
old dogmas are still present, teachers do not have the willingness to change, and
students are simply immerse in a system where creativity is not a key factor; are
our students creative? How can we develop creativity? And more important, how
necessary is it to develop this skill?
Our society, and the world in general are in constant movement and
evolving at a gargantuan pace. What was trendy and fashionable last year today is
old and useless, we live in a society where things are changing faster than we can
notice, therefore, as human beings and active members of this so call Chilean
society, must be able to face the changes and come up with creative solutions to

the different situations resulting from this changes. But, what is creativity? Many
authors have tried to define this concept, for example Anderson and Krathwol
(2000) stated that creativity is the highest level that a human being can reach in
his/her capacity of thinking skills. Puccio, Murdock and Mance (2007) also defined
creativity as the production of novel ideas that serve for some purpose or offer
some value. Analyzing the situation in our classrooms, based on these two points, I
strongly believe that creative thinking is not a skill developed in our students. They
do not possess this higher level of cognitive skills basically because we, as
teachers and moderators in our classrooms, do not allow them to reach that level.
By making an analysis of our classes, taking the different levels of cognitive skills
as a reference, and also considering what do we expect from our students; there is
clear evidence that we are the responsible for the lack of creativity in our
students. For instance, we expect our students to remember and understand the
contents delivered, these are the first and second levels of cognitive skills. Then,
we move them to the third level by asking them to apply whatever knowledge they
have acquire, and if time is on our side, the fourth level which is analyze is also
present. Then, what is the reason for not to continue developing and expecting
higher levels of cognitive skills in our students? Why evaluation and creation, which
as mentioned before, are the highest levels of cognitive skills, Anderson (2000),
are not being developed? It is my personal belief that one of the reasons is the fact
that creativity involves chaos, the destruction of an idea or solution to come up with
a new one. Is this chaos that limit the performance of teachers all around Chile.
Our society and historical background has taught us that control and order are key
ingredients to success, ergo; chaos must be out of the equation.

Returning to one of the initial questions, how then, can we develop


creative thinking in our students? Once we understand that chaos has not always
have a negative connotation, we will be able to continue with the next step in
developing a critical and creative thinking in our students and why not in ourselves.
We must allow learners to make mistakes and feel safe in class in order to be
creative, as Starko (2005) mentioned. We must give students the opportunity to
explore, test, make errors, accept them and recognize how they can learn from
them. A good way to begin is making correction something almost imperceptible by
the students, in order for them to feel secure in producing new ideas. Another
important factor is motivation, students need to feel that creative thinking and
problem solving will help them to face life, challenges, and their educational
process in a better manner.
To conclude and as mentioned earlier, our society is moving faster than
we can actually notice, leaving little or sometimes no time to adapt. In Chile,
education is two steps behind in this race for adaptation and response to the new
changes. The reality is that most of the public or subsidised schools are formed
with a staff of teachers with a long career in teaching and at the same time tired of
the system, the lack of opportunities and the feeling that teaching is not valued by
society, resulting in being stuck in what is comfortable for them, and at the same
time avoiding what students really need. All this has an effect in young teachers,
who sometimes surrender to this viewpoint, entering in this vicious cycle. I believe
that students have the potential to be creative and that is my job as a teacher and
an educator to promote creative and critical thinking in my students, regarding what
the crowd might think.

References

Puccio in Tan, A. (2007) Chapter16 Creativity: A Handbook for Teachers. World


Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd. 2007

Starko, A. (2005) Chapter 7 Creativity in the Classroom: Schools of Curious


Delight. Lawrence Erlbaun Associates. 2005.