Creativity is a buzzword, both in business and in education. This kind of alignment of school and workplace values doesn’t happen as often as a novice might expect, so it is definitely a situation which educators should make the most of. But before we increase the focus on creativity in the classroom, we need to know what it means. In a recent #gtchat on Twitter, we discussed creative thinking, and I defined it as follows:
Creative thinking means generation, synthesis or refinement of ideas in ways which are unusual or interesting.
This was generally well received, and the generation of new and refined ideas and solutions is a key aspect of progress in any field. Students should all have the opportunity to learn about this kind of creative thinking, and to practise it often and well. Gifted students can go further, developing an understanding of what creative practice means within their domains of interest, as well as exploring which ways of approaching their work enhance their own creative productivity the most.
This kind of creativity, however, is definitely work. Often, it is the aspect of our work we love the most, but it is still work. The most perfectionistic and driven of our gifted children routinely work until they are very tired. In the interests of promoting self-care and work-life balance, I believe it is important to make time for “recreativity” in the classroom, too.
By recreativity, I mean hands on and joyful creation of “stuff”, whether original or not, in a way which may involve some learning, but is primarily lots of fun. Recreation. This kind of creativity relaxes children and recharges their batteries, ready for the next lot of serious learning. Gifted children have a reputation for intensity, and while intensities often empower, they can also overwhelm. We could worry about this, of course, and pathologise it, but short breaks in the goal-driven intensity of our classrooms are often sufficient to keep the children’s personal intensities manifesting in positive ways.
So please provide all the opportunities for creativity you can in your classroom, but balance it with a little recreativity as well. What’s more, if you are reading this as a gifted adult and sense the need for a little recreativity of your own, make sure to check out Brilliant Chaos, a Facebook group where creativity and recreativity are shared
Find other #NZGAW Blog Tour posts at http://giftededucation.ultranet.school.nz/WebSpace/1286/.