The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 30


Resourceful Research



Who is Teaching Whom? Empowering Students to Think for Themselves


Natalie Tye

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Teachers who embrace and encourage creativity in the classroom find that students not only learn the content, but are able to enter into deeper understanding, showing excitement for their own thinking (Beghetto & Kaufman, 2014). It is not enough for the teacher to be creative or for the environment to include a variety of materials supporting creativity in students. It is a combination of classroom environment and a teacher willing to take a step into the unknown and share the teaching role with their students. This teacher includes active engagement opportunities embedded in course content to instill the love of learning and a more creative mindset for both student and teacher. These authentic experiences allow the teacher to gain confidence in teaching and result in confident, creative students in the classroom.

The classroom teacher is the decisive element in a child’s day that determines how they learn and how they view learning in the future. It only takes one negative situation, one negative teacher, or one experience where the child is not validated in their thought process to change their perception of learning. Ginott (1972) shared the theory connecting classroom management to student feelings, expressing how vital the role of the teacher is in creating the classroom learning environment. Further, he described the concept that teacher interactions should be rooted in acceptance rather than the rejection of feelings, emotions, or interpretations of learning (1972).

I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized. -- Haim Ginott

According to Davis (2018), schools are on the verge of experiencing a gap in creativity in the classroom. Students are not being pushed to their outer limits of thinking, and are being taught to receive knowledge rather than seek their own understanding of the world. In fact, students are experiencing far more creative activity outside the classroom and school. This is frightening to the outside world. IBM conducted a global CEO study in 2010 to determine how creativity determines future success. The work revealed that more than any other attribute (rigor, management, discipline, integrity or vision), successful navigation of the increasingly complex world we live in will require the ability to be creative (IBM, 2010).

So how does the classroom teacher engage students in meaningful learning experiences while supporting emotional growth and responding to support ongoing teaching? Creating a classroom environment that stimulates children as well as the teacher through ongoing, investigative learning requires a combination of strategies and supports. By providing opportunities for students to think in new ways, and for themselves, teachers are able to increase creativity and student engagement in the space (Burgess, 2012). It was Sir Ken Robinson (2006) who shared in a Ted Talk that creativity is as vital in education as other subject areas, and we should respect the use of creativity with the same weight as content learning. To achieve creativity in the classroom, the teacher must be willing to support students in unorthodox ways.

The teacher’s role in creative expression is more than simply being present in the learning experience. Several attributes are needed for a teacher to be able to enhance creativity in the classroom. Sharing power with students is uncommon in the classroom, however, it is through this very act that a classroom can transform from a place of knowledge receiving to knowledge seeking. The creative teacher shares power with students through shared learning, materials, and classroom space. It is not enough to provide a safe space but to share in rule creation and discussion over classroom materials and ways to use materials for learning (Willis, 1997). It is through the sharing of power that students feel most comfortable and in control of their own learning. research over a subject.