To foster an environment of creativity and learning, it is important to start by forming meaningful and supportive relationships with students and the teams we work with on a daily basis. When you ask people to reflect on their most profound moment of discovery or learning, their responses include an anecdote about personal connections or support from a trusted person or group of people (Ritchart, 2015). The role of an educator is to guide their students and team through the learning process and to provide opportunities to explore topics further, sparking creativity. This process is difficult if trust is not part of the foundation of the relationship.
Career and Technical Education inherently fosters innovation and creativity because of the work that students and educators are engaged in. When CTE educators empower their students and teams to explore a topic further, they open their minds to the uncertainties surrounding a given topic. Empowerment comes from allowing people to have a voice, and feel supported in their ideas and actions. By empowering the students and teams we work with, we are opening them up to untapped possibilities.
Creativity cannot be confined to a box, and neither can intelligence. In terms of the specific ways in which people show their knowledge, there should be an element of choice to promote the creative process. “People will achieve miracles if they are motivated by a driving vision and sense of purpose (Robinson & Aronica, 2015). Fostering positive environments for both staff and students to be innovative and creative with the work that they engaged will have long lasting effects on the learning that is created and the relationships that are formed.
After creating a culture of support, it is important to allow room for questioning. When curiosity and innovation are sparked, people tend to ask questions, create new ideas and build excitement with a given topic (Robinson & Aronica, 2015). Allowing students and staff to question the status quo or boundaries of a concept helps to gain insight, as well as problem solve solutions to problems that may arise. Questioning is the step that starts to break down the barriers in place that stifle creativity.
Additional questioning of a topic can occur when topics and subjects are inclusive of one another. In terms of a Career and Technical classroom, we have to incorporate the use of academic and vocational studies to ensure students are provided with well-rounded opportunities for real world application (Robbinson & Aronica, 2015). When people feel a sense of real world application, then they are able to see their ideas come to life in ways they may haven’t imagined.
The last step to foster creativity among students and staff, is to have an open mind as an educator. Just because you would not have taken particular approach to a particular situation does not mean that it is wrong. Conventional wisdom suggests that the same abilities that allow children to learn also enable them to bring new worlds into existence (Wagner, 2012). Don’t stifle the ability for children to wonder and create for their future. Their possibilities are endless and we as educators should be nurturing opportunities to create outside of the realm of possibility.
Ritchart, R. (2015). Creating cultures of thinking: The 8 forces we must master to truly transform our school. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.
Robinson, K. & Aronica, L. (2015). Creative schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. New York, NY. Penguin Publishing Group.
Wagner, T. (2012). Creating innovators: The making of young people who will change the world. New York, NY. Simon & Schuster Inc.