(I like exclamation marks.  Can you tell?)

I have found that I quite like this gentleman, Marvin Bartel, Ed. D.  I intend to be an Art/English teacher in the future, and he has some very interesting ideas on creative teaching.  His writing on the subject is prolific, but one thing of his that I thought was really instructive was his list of Ten Classroom Creativity Killers.  In the article he expands on each one and tells how to NOT kill creativity in the classroom.  I would encourage all of you to read it, because his ideas are excellent, but for those without the time or inclination, here is the basic list:

I kill creativity in the classroom when…

1. I encourage renting (borrowing) instead of owning ideas.

2. I assign grades without providing informative feedback.

3. I see a lot of cliché symbols instead of original or observed representation of experience.

4. I demonstrate instead of having students practice.

5. I show an example instead of defining a problem.

6. I praise neatness and conformity more than expressive original work.

7. I give freedom without focus.

8. I make suggestions instead of asking open questions.

9. I give an answer instead of teaching problem solving experimentation methods.

10. I allow students to copy other artists rather than learning to read their minds.

Reading through this list, I have to say that I’ve experience all of these problems with my teachers at one time or another – and heck, I’ve probably been guilty of a few of them, even with the limited amount of teaching I’ve done.  Probably numbers 4, 5, 6, and 10 are the areas in which I can most improve.

4. I am training to teach in the subjects I love, which is wonderful and fantastic.  The only problem with it is that when I love something, I want to do it.  I like demonstrating.  Oh, I hate watching demonstrations – but that’s double standards for you.  I know I’ll have to kill my urge to demonstrate all the time.  A lot of students like to do hands-on work, which means that the more time I spend showing, the less time they get to spend doing.

5. Much of the time, I find that I understand a problem in my head, but I don’t know how to vocalize it so that everyone else will understand.  So when I find an example of a similar problem/solution, I’ll use that instead of trying to say what’s in my head.  That doesn’t mean it will be helpful to everyone else, of course.  While an example may fit into the network of puzzle pieces in my brain, it won’t necessarily fit everyone else.  Instead of using examples, then, I should think of ways to explain things simply and effectively in my own words.  I already practice doing this – anytime I encounter a particularly complex idea, I try to distill it down to its most basic forms so that anyone can understand it.

6. I am the sort of person who likes structure, realistic work, and well-executed ideas.  I sometimes have difficulty judging or understanding more experimental, expressive, or abstract work.  As a teacher, however, I need to be able to look beyond my own personal preferences to judge the actual worth of any piece I am given to mark.  Not everyone thinks or creates in the same way, and I believe it is essential for teachers to be open to all forms of creativity in their classrooms.  That is what I aspire to.

Can you see anything on the list that you think is or will be an issue for you, as future teachers?

5 thoughts on “Murderers!

  1. lrschmale says:

    4 will be difficult for me as a math teacher
    I think.

  2. brooklynkrause says:

    4. I demonstrate instead of having students practice

    I think this can “kill creativity in the classroom,” but I also think demonstrating can be a good thing too. There are many different kinds of learners; some are kinesthetic (learn best by doing), but some students are visual learners (learn best by seeing) and need things like demonstrations to help them be successful.

    • Actually, if you read the article this list comes from, the author explains that when he says you should not demonstrate, he means that if there is going to be a demonstration, you should get the kids to do it with you instead of just watching you do it. If you engage the students in hands-on work while you’re teaching, it will help them to pay more attention and retain more information. He does not mean flat-out ‘never demonstrate anything to your students.’

  3. Hmmm… I have to disagree with no. 5. I think showing ideas without stating the problem is a very good way to get students to try to figure thing out themselves. Of course, we have to know the answer, but if we ask them what they think is the issue/answer/pattern.

  4. Giving freedom without focus is sometimes an idea that I am guilty of in the classroom. Sometimes we are given too much freedom and not enough direction and this happens in all aspects of life, or so it seems… Freedom is obviously the best tool for students to work with but when they have nothing to focus on or to direct their freedom, imagination and intellect towards then I believe that freedom is, for lack of a better word ‘killed’.

    This is something I have been working on and I think I tend to do it as a teacher because I always hated being restricted as a students. Thus, tendencies to over give the gift of openness and freedom in a project is born.

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