Don't think outside the box, get outside the box.     Schrödinger's cat is in that box!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Creativity & Curiosity: My Thoughts
Special Post #12A

                                              ?????? Chemistry Cat killed by curiosity???????

Curiosity may in fact have killed the cat. But I have heard that satisfaction brought it back. In other words, curiosity can be a positive emotion that leads to the discovery of something new. It can also lead to dangerous instances when improperly executed. At this very point the educator/teacher is most in demand. Guidance during the exploratory and curious stage is necessary to spearhead online safety and unreliable data. One of our many "hats" reads: "Quality Control Agent."

     Why would schools in the U.S. (or anywhere) systematically inhibit a student's natural curious nature? I have sat through many classes in my lifetime, including most of my college classes, that did in fact limit the curiosity factor up to and including asking questions. On the flip side were my two English literary classes that DEMANDED participation as part of the final grade. Believe me, going from "sit down, be still, be quiet, and listen to me" was a shocker. At first it was very difficult. No one wanted to look foolish. Imagine a college classroom, a place of higher learning, and the students are mute. This is a crime against students. We are not drones. In fact we work faster and better when we are personally engaged and somewhat challenged. Those literary classes that started out so awkward did in fact turn into lively, vigorous mini-debates within three weeks. There were times when the professor walked in, asked us a question, and then sat down and watched us go at it! We agreed to disagree many times, but were always polite and respectful. My other classes became even more boring to me because there was no interaction at all. I discovered I could still have that interaction I craved. All that was needed was for me to speak up, sometimes even answering the rhetorical question. It is my education and when I had a relative comment or question it did not necessarily need to wait. I have run on and on and still not answered the fundamental question of "why?"

     "Why" is a wonderful word. It leads to reasoning and the investigation of an answer. Perhaps time constraint within the classroom has lead the teacher towards inhibiting curiosity. But this sounds like an easy cop-out. I have three (now grown) children and I am well aware of the time and energy they demand when in search of something. I had to weigh my time versus their satisfaction. Usually they won out and it was worth it in the long run. It is definitely a better streamlined model to simply "fill the head" and wait for the burping back of a few answers at test time. But what indeed did the student learn but to memorize and regurgitate. Was a real and tangible connection made with the information and will it be retained by the student? The answer, sadly, is probably not. Perhaps along with time constraint is the limited funding and available supplies for the classroom. In many school systems art, music, and even science labs have seen budget cuts up to and including elimination. Those three classes are good examples of curiosity and creativity in motion. And now they have been eliminated. I, for one, was never bored in these three subjects. I was in fact engaged, challenged, and rewarded. The outcome was usually positive and encouraging for next time.

     A curriculum can if fact be created that increases the creativity of students. The key component is direct student involvement. The Constructivist School concept uses engagement as a means of education. The teacher leads the learning process through a series of question/exploration/experimentation/thinking and understanding. The student has an active role in their education and learns how to think, not simply what to think. Not only is the student's education enhanced but also their social and communication skills. The educator's role is that of a guide instead of a supreme being. Technically the burden of teaching is delegated to the student. In a way this is a win-win solution for the teacher and student. Change is gradual and not always welcome. Dr. Strange through EDM310 is hoping to instill creativity, curiosity in his students so that we become the positive agents of change that is needed within the any school system we are hired into. An Executive in retail once told me, "Change is not always a good thing. But it is inevitable." I want to be a positive change.

     For most students there is no shortage of curiosity. The handicap here belongs solely to the teacher's inability to foster this curiosity in a productive learning atmosphere. Why give out all the answers at once. Learning should not be as simple as "plug and chug." Instead I can give out the most basic information, hint about interesting concepts, and challenge my students to engage in their own investigation.

Rainforest made by elementary students
For example: a lesson plan about the Rainforest. I introduce the topic and then we brainstorm about preconceived concepts which naturally leads to the need for more information gathering. The focus is on "gathering" not "getting." The next step is to construction. The students have free reign to the design and materials. I plan ahead and involve parent's resources for basic materials. It is the students role to investigate, collaborate, design, build and, in reality, lead their learning. This is not the typical lecture, worksheet and paper test classroom model. This one involves more involvement for students and teachers (at first). But in the long run this student ultimately comes out far ahead of the "head filled" student.
*creating a Green Boafinished Green Boa

     So far this semester we have been exposed to many new technology applications, and innovative and creative educators from around the world. These people and programs have sparked my curiosity and creativity far past the level I started with this semester. The educators have already blazed a trail and left many videos, podcasts, and blogs as markers for those that follow. It is my job to stay on this path and make sure my students become more actively their life.

Curiosity killed the cat gave life to creativity.

*Thank you Alyssa Gilman for sharing your AEEC photos with me.


  1. It's Monday morning and my assignment has been turned in for a few days but I am still mulling it over from a personal standpoint. The question posed: 'what increases my curiosity and creativity?' is still on my mind so it must not have been fully answered.

    Several things in the arts and crafts arena grab my attention. I love sparkly jewelry, can't afford it, but love it just the same. My response is to make my own. A desire turns into a product and I am free to create as I wish. I have so many beads of all types. I also have a few fun pieces of hand-strung jewelry. I love to shop around and get new ideas. I really like when a project starts and I am faced with a blank canvas and surrounded by colorful glass and metal beads. Charming Charley's is inspirational. Michael's and Ebay are my mecca! So I believe 'desire' fuels my curiosity and 'possibility' turns on my creativity.

    This course has done more to 'turn on' an inner spark than I expected. I have enjoyed it and also been thoroughly frustrated more times than I care to divulge. But always I have pleased myself and learned something new by the end of the week. I am completely amazed with what I have personally accomplished. My kids are, too.

    EDM310 is one weekly challenge after another. For the most part it is a reflective, mental/emotional response that it has seemed to demand of me. But every blog requires a photo. That was my fun challenge. I spend way too much time searching for just the right one....every single time. It means something to me, and probably only me. But I felt determined to complete the assignment no matter what.

    The assignments led my curiosity and creativity to places I did not know existed on the web and within myself. I have gained more confidence in my abilities. I am still frustrated at times but I have learned to work through it or simply reach out for help. My goal was to survive a computer course and work hard for an A. I was focusing on the grade. Along the way I found so much more. Achieving the grade took a back seat! This is the only time I will admit to that, by the way. So in essence my curiosity was sparked by a self guided learning process and my creativity was allowed to bloom during the construction phase of blogging and project development.

  2. Ii am glad that you got over your focus on grades,

    I got interested in wine and then decided to make it. What a disaster. Making sparkling jewelry must be a lot easier! I still like wine though.

    And now to your main post and not your added comment: you can't sit mutely when you have to post on a blog every week!

    Excellent. I wish I could think of a better word. It's getting boring to use that so often on your posts! Maybe Outstanding or Exceptional or Sensational or You wrote this? I offer the latter since you doubt your awards and citations, etc. Anyway, I can't thank you enough. There or 5-6 posts each weekthat I can always count on to cheer me up. Yours is one of those!