May 24, 2019 2019-05-24
By Trevor Muir
Originally posted on TrevorMuir.com on June 26, 2016.
Sir Ken Robinson once said in a TED Talk that "Teaching is creative profession."
I love that line.
Because of systems in place, as well as cultural stereotypes, and Mrs. Crabapple from The Simpsons, it is very easy to believe that teachers are just walking textbooks, or playback machines, or mindless dictators (ok, maybe I can be a little dictatorish sometimes). But these descriptions are limiting, because at the heart of teaching is creativity.
Think about the amount of creativity that goes into your own personal classroom management, and the way you have learned to improvise in different situations in your classroom.
How you’ve developed a look that can make bullies tremble.
And another one that can send a child home prouder than they have ever been. Or think about the creativity it takes to talk an angry parent down or to turn a classroom into a safe haven for your students.
Consider the fact that on paper, literature, geometry, foreign language, and photosynthesis can look pretty boring. However, teachers know these subjects are far from that, and they have the unique ability to make students realize it.
Teaching takes immense creativity, and you can pour that same ingenuitive spirit and inspiration to make learning come alive for students. It’s about flexing those creative muscles to make learning engaging. Introduce authenticity into projects and lessons your class takes part in. Make it part of your planning time to brainstorm new ways to make class relevant. Like any other artist, give yourself scheduled time to sit down and do nothing but brainstorm.
Teachers have to get away from the mindset that school is just about delivering content and using our time to plan solely on how to deliver it. Content is important, and can still be a major target in our classrooms, but rarely is it enough to motivate a student to work hard and with passion. Passion and work ethic from most students must be derived from somewhere else. Otherwise, you have to become comfortable with a bunch of students who are satisfied with getting C’s and doing just enough to get by.
The other option is to inject authentic conflict into our classrooms. Make the time students spend with you every day be full of purpose. Foster an environment that makes kids wake up in the middle of the night with an idea to solve the problem your class has presented them with.
Conflict is good.
We want conflict.
And to create real conflict in your classroom just takes a degree of creativity.
Trevor Muir is a professor at Grand Valley State University. He is an author, blogger, public speaker, and dedicated educator. He presented at TEDx San Antonio and had a spoken word poem featured in the Huffington Post. Trevor believes that every student is a dynamic character with a potential for greatness. He teaches with project based learning as he believes teaching is a creative profession. He is married and has two children. You can follow Trevor on Twitter @TrevorMuir.