The first question we are asked is, “Do schools in the United States systematically destroy (or inhibit) the development of curiosity and/or creativity in students?” I feel that in most cases, creativity in the classroom is encouraged but chances to express said creativity are rarely given. Teachers may not do this on purpose; they just feel as though the traditional approach to teaching got them through school and why change what isn’t broken? Also, new and creative ways to teach require more effort than the norm. If the opportunity was given to integrate things that spark the imagination and interest of students with the curriculum, grades would correlate positively with the amount of interest from the students. Projects that involve group work, problem solving, and the ability to design presentations have always caught the interest of students such as myself undeniably more than cut and dry research papers, book reports, and individual work. I’m not saying that papers and reports should be done away with, I just think that there are approaches to make them more enjoyable to students because the more interest there is in a subject, the more a student is going to retain the information from it.
The next question brought to attention is, “Can a curriculum be developed that increases the curiosity of students?” A curriculum that would raise the curiosity of students would be one that advocated the question “Why?” Everyone goes through the “why” stage in his or her childhood but most grow out of it. I feel that the “why” stage should remain with us our whole life. “Why” is powerful; it is the question that great minds use to change their world and ours. Everyday of school should be started with a new question beginning with “why” that pertains to the lesson ahead. As the class, in either a group discussion or quiet reflection, addresses this question, it makes students wonder about their lives, the lives spent before them, and the lives to come. If we keep the generation that we teach in the state of “why,” we as teachers may help develop minds like the greats, from Socrates to Steve Jobs.
Similar to the first question addressed, our third is, “Can a curriculum be developed that increases the creativity of students?” As I mentioned before, the opportunity to express creativity is not always given in the classroom. If we were to take advantage of the large size of classes, the availability of technology, and the imagination teeming inside of every student, creativity could be shown much more. Rather than giving one choice of assignment for a subject, teachers could give options that range over the multiple intelligences or learning styles of students in the classroom. That way, students could choose an assignment that not only interests them more, but also one that they would excel in on a personal level.
Curiosity, or the “why” factor, can we as teachers affect it? “Can a teacher's actions increase the curiosity of students?” We have to think, what characteristic in a teacher would make me ask “why” or become interested in what is going on in the classroom? I feel that if a teacher expresses that they are still in the “why” stage of learning it would compel me to take on that same attitude, which answers the seventh question, “What would help you become more curious?” If a teacher is positive about curiosity in learning there is a higher chance of the students being positive as well. It’s called the “power of positive energy.” Jon Gordon, the author of The Energy Bus and many other bestsellers, attempts to change the energy of the workplace, the home, and life in general with this rule. The rule states that if you take the negativity out of your life and replace it with positive energy, your life will be positive and it will effect the lives of the people around you positively as well. I feel that the rule applies to anything in life, including the next question, “Can a teacher's actions increase the creativity of students?” If a teacher can show his or her creativity to the students, the students will be less weary about showing what’s going on inside of their imagination.
You don’t normally ask the question, “What would help you become more creative?” If I really had to sit down and think about what helps me get into a creative state of mind, I would have to say a comfortable environment like my house or my room. Somewhere I feel good about myself and I feel safe to express my imagination is where I feel most creative. So I feel that’s why the classrooms where I felt most safe or comfortable are the ones I did the best in or didn’t have to put forth as much tedious effort to do well in. Teachers that you feel comfortable talking to about assignments and you don’t feel stupid asking questions when you don’t understand are the ones that build a creative environment. I hope to one day become a teacher that constructs an environment where my students will grow in both creativity and curiosity.