Fun Questions for Your Students

29 08 2009

Can you cry under water?

If money doesn’t grow on trees then why do banks have branches?

Since bread is square, then why is sandwich meat round?

Why do you have to “put your two cents in” . . . but it’s only a penny for your thoughts?” Where’s that extra penny going?

Why does a round pizza come in a square box?

What did cured ham actually have?

How is it that we put man on the moon before we figured out it would be a good idea to put wheels on luggage?

Why is it that people say they “slept like a baby” when babies wake up like every two hours?

If a deaf person has to go to court, is it still called a hearing?

Why are you IN a movie, but you are ON TV?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

How come we choose from just two people for President and fifty for Miss America?

Why do doctors leave the room while you change? They’re going to see you  naked anyway.

Why when I signed up for an exercise class was I told to wear loose‑fitting clothing? If I HAD any loose‑fitting clothing, I wouldn’t have  signed up in the first place!!!

Wouldn’t it be nice if whenever we messed up our life we could simply  press ‘Ctrl Alt Delete’ and start all over?

Why is it that our children can’t read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but why do fat cells live forever?

How can you tell when you run out of invisible ink?

Could someone ever get addicted to counseling? If so, how could you treat them?

Can you be a closet claustrophobic?

Did Adam and Eve have navels?

Does anyone ever vanish with a trace?

How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work in the mornings?

If a turtle doesn’t have a shell, is he homeless or naked?

If Fed Ex and UPS merge, would they call it Fed UP?

If a chronic liar tells you he is a chronic liar do you believe him?

If a mute child swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it, do the other trees make fun of it?

If all those psychics know the winning lottery numbers, why are they all still working?

If nothing ever sticks to TEFLON, how do they make TEFLON stick to the pan?

If olive oil comes from olives, where does baby oil come from?

What would a chair look like if your knees bent the other way?

If pro is the opposite of con, is progress the opposite of congress?

If quitters never win, and winners never quit, who came up with, “Quit while you’re still ahead?”

If the Energizer Bunny attacks someone, is it charged with battery?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

What did we do before the Law of Gravity was passed?

What happens if you get scared half to death twice?

Why are we afraid of falling? Shouldn’t we be afraid of the sudden stop?

Do jellyfish get gas from eating jellybeans?

Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

You know how most packages say “Open here” What is the protocol if the package says, “Open somewhere else?”

There is a little indestructible black box that is used on planes, why can’t they make the whole plane with the same substance?

How do you know when it’s time to tune your bagpipes?

What would happen if you put a slinky on the Aup@ escalator?

Where does the light go when the light goes out?

How can I stop payment on a reality check?

Is it true cannibals won’t eat clowns because they taste funny?

I you were invited to a party by a psychic…would you have to RSVP?





How Can Teachers Develop Students’ Motivation– and Success?

29 08 2009

 An Interview with Carol Dweck

What can teachers do to help develop students who will face challenges rather than be overwhelmed by them?

Why is it that many students seem to fall apart when they get to junior high or middle school?

Can the “gifted” label do more harm than good?

Do early lessons set girls up for failure?

Is self-esteem something that teachers can or should “give” to students?

Those are some of the questions Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Columbia University, answers this week for Education World. Some of her responses will surprise you! Carol S. Dweck is a professor of psychology at Columbia University. She is a leader in the field of motivation, personality, and developmental psychology, and her research contributions have been widely recognized.

Her most recent book, Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, is published by Psychology Press. This week, Dweck shares with Education World readers some of her thoughts about the role of motivation in learning. Education World: Some students are mastery-oriented; they readily seek challenges and pour effort into them. Others are not.

Have you been able to pinpoint in your research any direct associations between students’ abilities or intelligence and the development of mastery-oriented qualities?

Carol Dweck: This is a really interesting question, and the answer is surprising. There is no relation between students’ abilities or intelligence and the development of mastery-oriented qualities. Some of the very brightest students avoid challenges, dislike effort, and wilt in the face of difficulty. And some of the less bright students are real go-getters, thriving on challenge, persisting intensely when things get difficult, and accomplishing more than you expected. This is something that really intrigued me from the beginning. It shows that being mastery-oriented is about having the right mind-set. It is not about how smart you are. However, having the mastery-oriented mind-set will help students become more able over time.

EW: What can teachers do to help develop mastery-oriented students — students who will face a challenge rather than be overwhelmed by it?

Dweck: Students who are mastery-oriented think about learning, not about proving how smart they are. When they experience a setback, they focus on effort and strategies instead of worrying that they are incompetent. This leads directly to what teachers can do to help students become more master-oriented: Teachers should focus on students’ efforts and not on their abilities. When students succeed, teachers should praise their efforts or their strategies, not their intelligence. (Contrary to popular opinion, praising intelligence backfires by making students overly concerned with how smart they are and overly vulnerable to failure.) When students fail, teachers should also give feedback about effort or strategies — what the student did wrong and what he or she could do now. We have shown that this is a key ingredient in creating mastery-oriented students. In other words, teachers should help students value effort. Too many students think effort is only for the inept. Yet sustained effort over time is the key to outstanding achievement. In a related vein, teachers should teach students to relish a challenge. Rather than praising students for doing well on easy tasks, they should convey that doing easy tasks is a waste of time. They should transmit the joy of confronting a challenge and of struggling to find strategies that work. Finally, teachers can help students focus on and value learning. Too many students are hung up on grades and on proving their worth through grades. Grades are important, but learning is more important.

EW: In your latest book, Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development, you share the story of a conversation you overheard between two college students, Charles and Bob. Could you share that story with Education World’s readers?

Dweck: Charles and Bob were two college students on a bus who were discussing their school experiences and their plans for the future (while I listened attentively). They both had struggled through an exceedingly difficult computer science course. One had to take it twice before he earned a decent grade. Yet they were seriously discussing whether to major in computer science! And for them the decision rested on whether they wanted to pursue something that required so much effort. The question of “ability” never entered into their discussion. Not once did either of them entertain the idea that he might not be good at computer science. For them, it was simply a matter of what they were willing to put into it. Charles and Bob were very different from how I had been at their age. Had I needed two attempts to master a course, I would not have aired this fact in public. Nor would I have remotely considered pursuing that course of study in the future. I greatly admired Charles and Bob for their mastery-oriented qualities, and had no doubt that if they went into computer science, they would do what it took to succeed.

EW: Learning goals were obviously more important to Charles and Bob than grades and test results (performance goals) were. Are Charles and Bob typical of most college students you meet? Or do more students seem to be performance goal-oriented? Is either of those groups of students better off?

Dweck: It’s true that Charles and Bob were very learning-oriented and seemed not to be too concerned with their grade point averages. We find that many students value learning above grades. They tell us directly that it is more important to them to learn and be challenged than it is to earn the best grades. Many other students, however, tell us the reverse. They care far more about their grades than they do about learning anything or being challenged. To my mind, it’s the balance that counts — keeping a balance between valuing learning and performance. Let’s face it, grades often matter a lot, and many students who want to go on to top graduate and professional schools need good grades. Problems arise when students come to care so much about their performance that they sacrifice important learning opportunities and limit their intellectual growth. Problems also arise when students equate their grades with their intelligence or their worth. This can be very damaging, for when they hit difficulty, they may quickly feel inadequate, become discouraged and lose their ability or their desire to perform well in that area. For me the best mix is a combination of (a) valuing learning and challenge and (b) valuing grades but seeing them as merely an index of your current performance, not a sign of your intelligence or worth.

EW: Some students see intelligence as a fixed characteristic; it is a quality that people are born with and little can be done to change it. Others hold a more changeable view of intelligence; they think most anyone can learn new things and “stretch” their intelligence. Clearly, it seems that students with a changeable view of intelligence might fare better when faced with a learning challenge. But can anything be done to change those students who have a fixed view of their intelligence so that they might do better when facing a challenging learning task?

Dweck: You’re right. Students who believe that intelligence is a potential that they can develop do fare better when faced with challenge. For example, they often blossom across a challenging school transition when their fellow students with the fixed view are busy doubting themselves and losing their edge. We have found with students of all ages, from early grade school through college, that the changeable view can be taught. Students can be taught that their intellectual skills are things that can be cultivated — through their hard work, reading, education, confronting of challenges, etc. When they are taught this, they seem naturally to become more eager for challenges, harder working, and more able to cope with obstacles. Researchers (for example, Joshua Aronson of the University of Texas) have even shown that college students’ grade point averages go up when they are taught that intelligence can be developed. It is interesting to me that these beliefs about intelligence seem to be fairly stable individual differences when left to themselves. But they also can be changed fairly readily when students are confronted with the alternative view in an explicit and compelling way.

EW: Can a classroom that is very performance-oriented succeed in developing learners who willingly face new learning challenges?

Dweck: A classroom that teaches students to equate their intelligence and their worth with their performance will, in general, stifle the desire to learn and will make students afraid of challenges. After all, the next challenge may show you up and lead you to be branded as less intelligent or less worthy. When I was in sixth grade, my teacher seemed to equate our worth with our IQ scores. We were seated around the room in IQ order. If you didn’t have a high IQ, she wouldn’t let you clean the blackboard erasers, carry the flag in the assembly, or carry a note to the principal. She let us know that in her mind, a high IQ reflected not only basic intelligence but also character. The lower-IQ students felt terrible, and the higher IQ-students lived in fear that they would take another IQ test and lose their status. It was not an atmosphere that fostered love of learning and challenge. However, this doesn’t mean that a classroom that stresses performance can’t also stress the importance of facing learning challenges. First and foremost, it must be made clear to students that their performance reflects their current skills and efforts, not their intelligence or worth. In this case, if students are disappointed in their performance, there is a clear and constructive implication: Work harder, avail yourself of more learning opportunities, learn how to study better, ask the teacher for more help, and so on. Students who are taught that their performance simply measures their current skills can still relish learning challenges, for mistakes and setbacks should not be undermining. By the way, this stance characterizes many top athletes. They are very performance-oriented during a game or match. However, they do not see a negative outcome as reflecting their underlying skills or potential to learn. Moreover, in between games they are very learning-oriented. They review tapes of their past game, trying to learn from their mistakes, they talk to their coaches about how to improve, and they work ceaselessly on new skills.

EW: Based on that story, it would seem that our nation’s current emphasis on testing might contradict the goal of developing students who are excited about learning and who will go on to be lifelong learners.

Dweck: I think that undue emphasis on testing can be harmful if it conveys to students that the whole point of school is to do well on these tests and if it conveys to them that how well they do on these tests sums up their intelligence or their worth as a student. The same tests might not be so harmful if they were simply seen by educators and students as assessing students’ skills at that point in time and as indicating what skills students need to work on in the future. In this case, the tests needn’t dampen students’ excitement about learning. The current zeal for higher standards and more testing follows a period in which many educators believed that giving students lots of successes would boost their self-esteem and love of learning. This did not work. Instead students became used to low effort and became uninterested in challenges. Their self-esteem did not rise. So, many educators are clamoring to forget about self-esteem and return to the good old days of high standards, with the risk of widespread failure. What’s the answer? Are these the only two alternatives? There is another alternative, one that addresses students’ achievement and their self-esteem: Teaching students to value hard work, learning, and challenges; teaching them how to cope with disappointing performance by planning for new strategies and more effort; and providing them with the study skills that will put them more in charge of their own learning. In this way, educators can be highly demanding of students but not run the risk that large numbers of students will be labeled as failures.

EW: Why is it that many students who succeed throughout their elementary school years suddenly seem to fall apart when they get to junior high or middle school?

Dweck: Many students look fine when things are easy and all is going well. But many students, even very bright ones, are not equipped to deal with challenges. When they hit more difficult work, as they often do when they get to junior high school or middle school, they begin to doubt their intelligence, they withdraw their effort, and their performance suffers. We have seen this happen to students who were top students in grade school — they seem to lose their confidence, their liking for school, and their determination to do well. Why is this? I have found through my research that these students hold a certain belief that undermines them at this crucial point. They believe that intelligence is a fixed trait — that some people have it and others don’t — and that their intelligence is reflected in their performance. Basically, these are students who thought they were really smart in grade school, when they were doing well, but now they are frightened that they are not. They are scared that the difficulty they are experiencing means that they are in fact dumb. Furthermore, they are worried that if they try hard and still do poorly, they will really prove they’re dumb. So instead of digging in and doing what it takes to succeed, they start withdrawing from school and devaluing academics. The students who blossom at this time are the ones who believe that intellectual skills are things they can develop. They see the more difficult schoolwork as a challenge to be mastered through hard work, and they are determined to do what it takes to meet these new challenges.

EW: In your research, have you seen a distinct correlation between a student’s history of success and his or her ability to face future challenges?

Dweck: This is really fascinating. You might expect a correlation between a history of success and the ability to face challenges. You might think that students who had a history of success would be the ones who loved challenges and had the ability to face them constructively. After all, shouldn’t past successes boost their confidence in their abilities and give them what it takes to confront difficulty? But in fact, there is no relation between a history of success and seeking or coping with challenges. This is one of the great surprises in my research, and it goes to show that the ability to face challenges is not about your actual skills; it’s about the mind-set you bring to a challenge. Some students, even some very successful ones, feel threatened by challenge, believe that mistakes mean you’re not smart, and wilt when things become difficult. They stop enjoying the task, and they stop doing well on it. Other students, even many who have not done particularly well in an area, love challenge. They see it as an opportunity to learn, they view mistakes as valuable information, and they really rev up when things get difficult.

EW: Most educators want to help students see themselves as “smart.” They praise students’ intelligence because they believe that helping them feel smart will help them achieve their potential. But are there different or better messages educators could be sending them?

Dweck: I was aware of the widespread belief that praising students’ intelligence would help them feel smart and fulfill their potential. Yet, I had years of research showing that students who were vulnerable (who had fragile self-esteem and motivation) were the ones who were obsessed with their intelligence. They worried about it all the time: Will this task make me look smart? Will that task show I’m dumb? So it struck us that praising intelligence could actually do harm by putting the spotlight on intelligence and conveying to students that this important quality can be measured from their performance. We set out to test this in our research. Claudia Mueller and I conducted six studies, all with powerful results. In these studies, later grade school students worked on a task, succeeded nicely on the first set of problems, and received praise. Some received praise for their intelligence, and others received praise for their effort. It turned out that praising students’ intelligence, even after truly admirable performance, made them feel good in the short run, but it had many, many negative effects. In contrast, praising students’ effort had many positive effects. First, when students were praised for their intelligence, they became so invested in looking smart that they became afraid of challenge. Most of them preferred a sure-fire success over a challenging opportunity to learn something important. When students were praised for their effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging learning opportunity. Second, when students then experienced a second, difficult set of problems, those who had been praised for their intelligence now told us they felt dumb. In other words, if the success meant they were smart, the failure meant to them that they were dumb. Any self-esteem that had been promoted by the praise was very, very fragile. In contrast, the students who had been praised for their effort saw the setback not as a condemnation of their intellect, but as simply a signal for more effort. They realized that a harder task means harder work. Third, the students who were praised for their intelligence told us that they no longer enjoyed the task, and no longer wished to take problems home to practice. A feeling of failure made them turn away from a chance to practice their skills and improve. In contrast, the ones who were praised for their effort enjoyed the task just as much as before and were just as eager to take problems home to practice. In fact, some of them liked the task even better when it got hard and were more determined to master it. Fourth, we gave the students a third set of problems, similar to the first set (the one on which they had succeeded). How did they do on these problems? The students who were praised for their intelligence now did significantly worse than they had initially, whereas the students who were praised for their effort did significantly better than they had done before. This means that two groups of students, who had started off with similar performance, were now very far apart. And finally, when given a chance to write to a student in another school about the task, 40 percent of the students who received intelligence praise lied about their score. They revised it upward. Very few effort-praised students did so. This suggests that when students are praised for their intelligence, they become so over-identified with their performance, so personally humiliated by setbacks, that they can’t tell the truth even to an anonymous peer they will never meet. In short, intelligence praise made students feel good in the moment, but it made them afraid of challenge and unable to cope with setbacks. Effort praise seemed to give students a more hardy sense of themselves as learners, a more healthy desire for challenge, and the skills to cope effectively with setbacks. What does this mean? Does it mean we shouldn’t praise out students? By no means. We should praise all we want to, but we should praise the right things. We should praise the process (the effort, the strategies, the ideas, what went into the work), not the person.

EW: If praising for intelligence can be a negative thing, what about labeling kids as “gifted”? Could that do more harm than good?

Dweck: Labeling kids as gifted can sometimes do more harm than good. The label “gifted” implies that you have received some magical quality (the gift) that makes you special and more worthy than others. Some students are in danger of getting hung up on this label. They may become so concerned with deserving the label and so worried about losing it that they may lose their love of challenge and learning. They may begin to prefer only things they can do easily and perfectly, thus limiting their intellectual growth. Psychologists who study creative geniuses point out that the single most important factor in creative achievement is willingness to put in tremendous amounts of effort and to sustain this effort in the face of obstacles. It would be a tragedy if by labeling students as gifted, we limited their creative contributions. However, we can prevent this by making clear to students that “gifted” simply means that if they work hard and keep on learning and stretching themselves, they will be capable of noteworthy accomplishments. Of course, that is true of many, many people.

EW: IQ scores are a way of measuring students’ skills. But are they a reliable measure of students’ real abilities and potential?

Dweck: IQ tests can measure current skills, but nothing can measure someone’s potential. It is impossible to tell what people are capable of in the future if they catch fire and apply themselves. I will never forget a story I read in The New York Times. It told of a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who, later in life, got hold of his school records and saw his IQ score. According to him, it was not high. He freely admitted that had he seen this score earlier, he would not have tried to become a scientist and he would never have tried to make path-breaking discoveries. Research on creative geniuses shows that many of them seemed like fairly ordinary children. Yet at some point, they became obsessed with something and pursued it avidly over a long period of time, leading to unique and amazing contributions. Many of these contributions could not have been predicted by IQ scores.

EW: Some of your research seems to indicate that girls get more praise early in their schooling than boys do. During the early years, boys tend to be lectured more about paying attention and making more effort. Could it be that this dichotomy sets boys up with some valuable lessons and skills?

Dweck: Yes, boys have a much worse time than girls in grade school, but ironically, this may result in their learning some valuable lessons. They get a lot of messages about the importance of effort, which serve them well later. They also learn that criticism isn’t the end of the world. Girls, according to most teachers, are much more wonderful students in the early school years. So they are not lectured about effort, and they do not receive that much criticism. Unfortunately, they do not learn the lesson that mistakes carry a message about effort, and they often believe that mistakes or criticism tell them they have low ability. This may not hamper them in grade school where the challenges are often not great, but it can hamper them later when school becomes more difficult. In fact, this tendency to see mistakes as a measure of your abilities may be one reason many bright girls remain afraid of math and science and withdraw from them even when they have exceptional ability in those areas.

EW: Is self-esteem something that teachers can or should “give” to students?

Dweck: For the most part, self-esteem is not something teachers can hand to students. Many teachers believe that if they praise students’ intelligence, they can give their students high self-esteem. My work shows this is not true. I certainly think it is important for teachers to show students respect and give them a sense they are cared for, but apart from that, the best thing teachers can do for students is to put them in charge of their own self-esteem. This is by teaching students how to love challenges and learning and how to cope with and capitalize on setbacks. When students learn to thrive on difficulty and get a charge from mastering new skills, they can boost their own self-esteem in constructive ways throughout their lives.

EW: In all your years of research, what findings have intrigued you the most?

Dweck: What has intrigued me most in my 30 years of research is the power of motivation. Motivation is often more important than your initial ability in determining whether you succeed in the long run. In fact [as I mentioned earlier], many creative geniuses were not born that way. They were often fairly ordinary people who became extraordinarily motivated. By motivation, I mean not only the desire to achieve but also the love of learning, the love of challenge, and the ability to thrive on obstacles. These are the greatest gifts we can give our students.

Article by Gary Hopkins Education World® Editor-in-Chief





Motivational Brain Bite #7

29 08 2009

Creating a Questioning Climate

brainBefore you ask questions, use these options to create a better climate of success.  Pick the one(s) you’re most comfortable with using:

Assert that there may be multiple answers to your question.

Check in before asking questions to insure learner readiness.

Everyone may get a partner or learning buddy to serve as consultant.         

Give a multiple choice menu with the question.

Ask who is ready and has a possible answer.

Provide more wait time — respect the more kinesthetic learning styles.

Be more selective in calling on participants…only those that know it.

Utilize team and group cooperative responses.

Do a drawing for learner names from a globe or hat.

Tell & show them at start of class all the questions to be asked.

Do Jeopardy turnaround — participants have answer, ask you the questions.

Ask questions when you are really interested in a student=s thoughts.

Practice what you preach by modeling good questioning in your own life.

Ask questions that relate to student’s life experiences and interests.

 

When the answer was different than expected,

choose any of the following responses that you like:

Prompt them for a better answer…Do the hotter & colder game.

Ask the learner to say more about their answer to clarify what they mean.

Ask for a follow-up comment in 5 minutes…check back then.

Give more non-verbal or verbal clues to coax the learner.

Walk them through the steps of learning or logic to get a better answer.

Say your answer is a good contribution or good effort and move on.

Change the question to make the problem more understandable.

Put the answer on hold and ask if others would like to add or comment.

Change your question to make their answer right.

Give the correct answer indirectly within 20-90 seconds, but only after attention is switched away from learner

Make humor out of the situation…but never, never, never at the learner.

Use a confirmatory phrase such as Aso your answer is…are you sure?

Class rule: all answers are temporary until we validate them.

Have learner find others who agree with his answer & re-contribute.

Re-assign the problem again, change one variable.

When you get the answer you like,

choose any of the following responses that you=re comfortable using:

Repeat it in their words to validate what was said, avoid improving on it.

Ask “Can you tie the answer into what other classmates have said?”

Ask “Can you expand on what was given?” 





Motivational Brain Bite #6

29 08 2009

brainWays to Encourage Questions                      

A teacher cannot encourage questions solely by standing at the front of the class and asking, “Are there any questions?” There is so much pressure forcing students NOT to ask questions that it cannot be overcome by this single act.

The only way to encourage questions is to create a complete “question-asking environment” in the classroom. You must encourage questions constantly, using a variety of techniques.

The most important technique that you can use to encourage questions is to always answer questions kindly. Even if you have answered the same question three times already, the fourth answer should be friendly, and should include a new example. The student may have been copying something down, or may have been daydreaming. But normally questions occur multiple times because students cannot understand the language you are speaking. Until the students understand the vocabulary, all of those answers will be completely meaningless. A student asking a question for the fourth time has just come to understand the vocabulary him/herself, and only then can understand the answer when you give it.

Here are some other ways to promote questions:

 1.    Make students who ask questions feel like they have done you a favor by asking a question. Reward students for asking a question. Try saying, “That’s a great question” for every new question you get.

2.  Leave gaps for questions that are long enough for students to actually formulate questions. Rustle through your notes or drop a pencil or erase the board – leave good sized gaps throughout your lectures.

3.  Do not insult students, even subtly, when answering a question. Take a tape recorder to class one day, and then play it back and listen to how you answer questions. How do you come across? Would you like to be talked to in that way? Put yourself in your students’ shoes. Also listen to the answers you give – do you answer the questions?

4.   Use questionnaires at the end of class. Ask your students to write down one thing that they don’t understand from that day’s class. Then go over those questions at the beginning of the next class. Once students realize that everyone has questions, they will be more inclined to ask questions vocally during class.

5.   Have your students work problems during class. Put a problem on the board and let students work it in their notes. Then show them the right answer. You can do examples all day, but nothing is learned until the students do a problem themselves. It shows them exactly what they don’t understand, and this often leads to questions.

6.   Make lists of questions that you get asked during your office hours, and then repeat those questions to everyone during the next class.

7.   Give homework assignments that force students to think about and question the material, and make time available in class to answer homework questions. If a homework assignment generates no questions, then it is probably useless.

8.  Use tests to find out where you have been unclear, and where questions remain. A well designed and well graded test tells you as much about your teaching as it does about your students.

9.   Start each class by briefly reviewing the material from the previous class.

10.   Introduce a difficult concept for 5 minutes at the end of class. Then cover the concept fully during the next class. Students will have a day or two to become familiar with the concept, and will be more inclined to ask questions when they see it again.

 





Creative Thoughts about Creativity #6

28 08 2009

Picture1The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.  He to whom the emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause and stand wrapped up in wonder is as good as dead.  His eyes are closed.

Albert Einstein

 Where there is an open mind, there will always be a frontier.

Charles Kettering

 Reason can answer questions, but imagination has to ask them!

alph W.  Gerard

 A person who never makes a mistake never tried anything.

Anonymous

 When you refuse to accept the obvious, you’ve taken your first giant step toward creativity.

Anonymous

 Inspiration is the impact of a fact on a prepared mind.

Louis Pasteur

Enthusiasm is the most important single factor toward making a person creative.

                                                                                              Robert E.  Mueller

 Serendipity or the happy discovery, happens only when you are actually seeking something.

M.  O.  Edwards

 The real mark of the creative person is that the unforseen problem is a joy and not a curse.

Norman H.  Mackworth

The creative mind is seldom bored.

Gordon A.  Macleod

 There are certain things that our age needs.  It needs, above all, courageous hope and the impulse to creativeness.

Bertrand Russell

Nothing is as powerful as a good idea, but nothing is so powerfully sure-fire as a good idea whose time has come.

G.  Herbert True





CREATIVITY-ITS PLACE IN EDUCATION

28 08 2009

By Wayne Morris

“The roots of a creative society are in basic education. The sheer volume of facts to be digested by the students of today leaves little time for a deeper interrogation of their moral worth. The result has been a generation of technicians rather than visionaries, each one taking a career rather than an idea seriously. The answer must be reform in our educational methods so that students are encouraged to ask about “know-why” as well as “know-how”. Once the arts are restored to a more central role in educational institutions, there could be a tremendous unleashing of creative energy in other disciplines too.”

Source: On Arts: Creative New Zealand. Michael D. Higgins, the former Irish Minister for Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht

 

But is it enough to focus on the arts as the source of creativity in education?

Is there a much broader role for creativity in education?

 

“All our futures: Creativity, culture and education”, the UK National Advisory Committees report [DfEE, 1999] defines creativity as:

 

“First, they [the characteristics of creativity] always involve thinking or behaving imaginatively.

 

Second, overall this imaginative activity is purposeful: that is, it is directed to achieving an objective.  

 

Third, these processes must generate something original.

 

Fourth, the outcome must be of value in relation to the objective.”

 

 This from the UK. From the US – the Creative Classroom Project was a collaboration between Project Zero and the Disney Worldwide Outreach to produce materials that help teachers explore and understand:

1. The role of creativity and innovation in teaching and learning

2. The importance of developing classroom and school environments that can bring out the best in teachers and students, and

3. Methods for making classrooms more engaging places

 

The following quote, from one of the teachers involved in the project, adds to the UK definition.

“Although most people might look for signs of creativity in the appearance of the bulletin boards, student made projects, centers and displays in the classroom, I feel the truly creative classroom goes way beyond what can be seen with the eyes. It is a place where bodies and minds actively pursue new knowledge. Having a creative classroom means that the teacher takes risks on a daily basis and encourages his/her students to do the same.” Source: Pann Baltz quoted in Creativity in the Classroom: An exploration.

 

Why should we bother?

· Our school system is a thinly disguised conspiracy to quash creativity.

· We are at an inflection point. We seem to be re-inventing everything – except the school system, which should [in theory] underpin, even leads, the rest.

· The main crisis in schools today is irrelevance.

  · Our educational thinking is concerned with; ‘what is’. It is not good at designing ‘what can be’.

The above from Tom Peter’s book Re-imagine. Peter’s is very critical of our present ways of educating and although focused on American education his comments could relate to most education systems across the world.

 

Peter’s vision:

– a school system that recognizes that learning is natural, that a love of learning is normal, and that real learning is passionate learning

– a school curriculum that values questions above answers, creativity above fact regurgitation, individuality above uniformity and excellence above standardized performance

– a society that respects its teachers and principals, pays them well, and grants them the autonomy to do their job as the creative individuals they are, and for the creative individuals in their charge.

 

Is this a vision that you could buy into?

Robert Fritz comments that “The most important developments in civilization have come through the creative process, but ironically, most people have not been taught to be creative.”

 Source: Robert Fritz, The Path of Least Resistance, 1994.

 

Is it important to our futures that creativity be taught?

What place should creativity have in our education systems?

Should we teach creatively or teach for creativity?

 

“By providing rich and varied contexts for pupils to acquire, develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, understanding and skills, the curriculum should enable pupils to think creatively and critically, to solve problems and to make a difference for the better. It should give them the opportunity to become creative, innovative, enterprising and capable of leadership to equip them for their future lives as workers and citizens. It should enable pupils to respond positively to opportunities, challenges and responsibilities, to manage risk and cope with change and adversity.”  Source: UK National Curriculum Handbook [p 11-12]:

 

Creative students lead richer lives and, in the longer term, make a valuable contribution to society. Surely those are reasons enough to bother.

 

Creativity in the classroom – what does it look like?

When students are being creative in the classroom they are likely to:

· question and challenge. Creative pupils are curious, question and challenge, and don’t necessarily follow the rules.

· make connections and see relationships. Creative pupils think laterally and make associations between things that are not usually connected.

· envision want might be. They imagine, see possibilities, ask ‘what if?’, picture alternatives, and look at things from different view points.

· explore ideas and options. Creative pupils play with ideas, try alternatives  and fresh approaches, keep open minds and modify their ideas to achieve creative results

· reflect critically on ideas, actions and outcomes. They review progress, invite and use  feedback, criticize constructively and make perceptive observations.

 

To encourage the above is likely to require a change in the way schools are run and the way teachers teach.

“The most powerful way to develop creativity in your students is to be a role model. Children develop creativity not when you tell them to, but when you show them.”

Source: Robert J Sternberg, How to develop student creativity

 

Creative Teaching

We humans have not yet achieved our full creative potential primarily because every child’s creativity is not properly nurtured. The critical role of imagination, discovery and creativity in a child’s education is only beginning to come to light and, even within the educational community, many still do not appreciate or realize its vital importance.” Source: Ashfaq Ishaq International Child Art Foundation www.creativity-portal.com

 

Creative teaching may be defined in two ways: firstly, teaching creatively and secondly, teaching for creativity.  Teaching creatively might be described as teachers using imaginative approaches to make learning more interesting, engaging, exciting and effective. Teaching for creativity might best be described as using forms of teaching that are intended to develop students own creative thinking and behavior. However it would be fair to say that teaching for creativity must involve creative teaching. Teachers cannot develop the creative abilities of their students if their own creative abilities are undiscovered or suppressed.

 

“My wife and I went to a [kindergarten] parent-teacher conference and were informed that our budding refrigerator artist, Christopher, would be receiving a grade of unsatisfactory in art. We were shocked. How could any child – let alone our child – receive a poor grade in art at such a young age? His teacher informed us that he refused to color within the lines, which was a state requirement for demonstrating ‘grade level motor skills.” Source: Jordan Ayan, AHA!

 

Teaching with creativity and teaching for creativity include all the characteristics of good teaching – including high motivation, high expectations, the ability to communicate and listen and the ability to interest, engage and inspire. Creative teachers need expertise in their particular fields but they need more than this. They need techniques that stimulate curiosity and raise self esteem and confidence. They must recognize when encouragement is needed and confidence threatened. They must balance structured learning with opportunities for self-direction; and the management of groups while giving attention to individuals. Teaching for creativity is not an easy option, but it can be enjoyable and deeply fulfilling. It

can involve more time and planning to generate and develop ideas and to evaluate whether they have worked. It involves confidence to improvise and take detours, to pick up unexpected opportunities for learning; to live with uncertainty and to risk admitting that an idea led nowhere. Creative teachers are always willing to experiment but they recognize the need to learn from experience. All of this requires more, not less, expertise of teachers.

 

“Thousands of years of history suggest that the schoolhouse a we know it is an absurd way to rear our young: it’s contrary to everything we know about what it is to be a human being. For example, we know that doing and talking are what most successful people are very good at – that’s where they truly show their stuff. “ Source: Deborah Meier, in Dennis Littkys The Big Picture

 

Creative teachers need confidence in their disciplines and in themselves. There are many highly creative teachers in our schools and many schools where creative approaches to teaching and learning are encouraged. But many schools and teachers do not have access to the necessary practical support and guidance in developing these approaches. Consequently there are important issues of staff development. It is important to reduce or eliminate the factors which inhibit the creative activity of teachers and learners and give priority to those that encourage it. There are, in education, extraordinarily high levels of prescription in relation to content and teaching methods. There are huge risks of de-skilling teachers and encouraging conformity and passivity in some. We have an interesting paradox. We have industry commentators saying that, for a successful future, we need people who think, are creative and innovative and yet our education systems seem to be working against this. At a national level government has a responsibility to reduce these risks and to promote higher levels of teacher autonomy and creativity in teaching and learning.

 

“Human creativity is the ultimate economic resource.”

Source: Richard Florida The Rise of the Creative Class

 

“Over the past decade the biggest employment gains came in occupations that rely on people skills and emotional intelligence .. and among jobs that require imagination and creativity. Trying to preserve existing jobs will prove futile – trade and technology will transform the economy whether we like it or not.” Source: Michael Cox, Richard Alm and Nigel Holmes Where the jobs are – New York Times 13/05/04

 

“The past few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBA’s who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artist, inventors, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”

Source: Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

 

 Teachers encouraging creativity

Carolyn Edwards and Kay Springate in their article “The lion comes out of the stone:

Helping young children achieve their creative potential” [Dimensions of Early Childhood] give the following suggestions on encouraging student creativity:

 

· Give students extended, unhurried time to explore and do their best work. Don’t interfere when students are productively engaged and motivated to complete tasks in which they are fully engaged.

 

· Create an inviting and exciting classroom environment. Provide students with space to leave unfinished work for later completion and quiet space for contemplation.

 

· Provide an abundant supply of interesting and useful materials and resources.

 

· Create a classroom climate where students feel mistakes are acceptable and risk taking is encouraged. Appropriate noise, mess and autonomy are accepted.

 

The UK National Curriculum in Action web-site offers suggestions as to how teachers can encourage pupil’s creativity. The site includes short video clips of teachers discussing their approaches to encouraging creativity and then demonstrating these approaches. Examples are given of encouraging creativity while planning, introducing activities, teaching and revising work.

 

They are well worth viewing. [www.ncaction.org.uk/creativity]

Individual teachers can have a huge influence on encouraging students to be creative but for creativity to flourish it needs to be built into the whole school ethos. This is the domain of the principal and other school leaders. School leaders encouraging creativity.  Teachers can do a lot to encourage creativity in their classes but it’s a job only half done without the support of the school leadership. School leaders have the ability to build an expectation of creativity into a school’s learning and teaching strategies. They can encourage, recognize and reward creativity in both pupils and teachers. School leaders have the ability to provide resources for creative endeavors; to involve teachers and pupils in creating stimulating environments; to tap the creativity of staff, parents and the local community and much more. They have the ability to make creativity art of the staff development program; to include creativity in everyone’s performance reviews; to invite creative people into the school and most important of all, to lead by example!!

 

The last word[s]

“Steve Jobs has done more Cool Stuff than anybody else in Silicon Valley. . . . one of his success secrets is loading every development team with artist … and historians … and poets … and musicians … and dramatists. He says he wants to bring to bear, on each project, the best of human cultural accomplishment. So how come schools don’t get it? Budget crunch? First programmes to be cut? Art and Music. I say … the hell with the math budget [I really don’t mean that.] Let’s enhance the art budget and inflate the music budget. Training in Creativity is important, in general. But it is absolutely essential in this Age of Intangibles and Intellectual Capital.”

 Source: Tom Peters, Re-imagine

Do you agree and are you doing anything about it? I’d love to hear from you.





Motivational Quotes by Students

28 08 2009

If you quit at your passion because it got too hard and you failed at it, you shall be a failure at many things.

    Van Jones (3rd grade student)

 

Even if you don’t do well at first, keep pursuing your passions, you will get better at them.

        Charlie Squire (3rd grade student)

 

At first passions are difficult.  But they give you energy.

              Charlie Squire (3rd grade student)

 

The more and more you explore something…

You get more and more out of it.

                    Olivia Ware (4th grade student)

 

Passion is something you like to do.

Passion isn’t something someone makes you do.

I am glad that we can choose our own passions

and someone doesn’t need to make us do them.

           Laurel Larsen (4th grade student)

 

If we did not take risks we would not be able to accomplish anything.

 Shannon Williams (4th grade student)

 

In your work you work to find your passion.

    Ali Burton (4th grade student)

 

When you aim high or you goals are extremely high, you are much more likely to succeed.

 Olivia Ware (4th grade student)

 

There is an enjoyable feeling of working hard on something that challenges you.

                                                     Shannon Williams (4th grade student) 

 

I think it is good if you do something you do not like because you could start liking it so much it could become one of your passions.

                                                                         Blake Krawl (4th grade student)