Reflecting on TCC 2012: Can creativity be taught?

By Helen Torigoe, Guest Contributor
University of Hawai‘i, Educational Technology Master’s Degree Candidate 

It was the morning after TCC 2012 Conference and one question kept coming back in my mind: Can creativity be taught? The question was posed by Crystal Hofegartner in a Tuesday afternoon session titled “Creative Infusion: When Academia Meets Creativity.” She added that some of her students insist that they are not creative. Some in the room suggested that instead of taught, perhaps a better word might be allowed, fostered, or freed.

This discussion came right after the keynote session in which Dr. Paul Kim stated that he does not like the current model of teaching in schools. He objected to the traditional approach of teachers being the content holders who do all the teaching and testing, and the students memorize information and take tests. He also mentioned that growing up in Korea he was not a good student because he didn’t conform to the traditional school model. I can identify with that. In fact, now I know where I went wrong: unlike Dr. Kim, I was a good student growing up in Korea, following rules and conforming to expectations. I’m still trying to loosen those shackles around my mind.

After observing my own children and my students for a couple of decades, I’m concluding that every child is born creative. The Good Maker has infused a unique creativity in each one, but something happens while they are growing up and taught to conform to the society. No, don’t get me wrong – without an orderly society there would be anarchy. But perhaps the traditional teaching model “kills” creativity along the way. Dr. Kim advocated a paradigm shift of letting students teach themselves – by giving them tools while teachers become learning facilitators. Perhaps allowing them freedom to explore and create their own brand of learning will unleash creativity as well.

The conference was a shared platform of many ideas and practices that would enable the new learning model. There were discussions on inquiry-based learning, mobile learning, problem-based learning, GICE (guide, inspire, challenge, empower) approach, social networking, electronic books, open educational resources, and many others that will take me a while to digest and implement in my own teaching – no, I mean facilitating.

Can creativity be taught? I believe the answer is yes, every learner’s unique creativity can be allowed, fostered, freed, and unleashed but it will take a conscious effort by the educators to practice intentional and skilled facilitation of creativity.

Readers: What is your take on the question: Can creativity by taught? Post your comment below. 

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Educator, Hawaii & Japan
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