Do Educators Really Value Creativity?

What do teachers want in their students? Going by what they say, they want work done on time, they want respect and attention, and they want creative minds that can learn on their own. Or do they? Despite what many teachers say, when placed in a structured environment and given a questionnaire to fill out, a sample size of educators seemed to have a conflicting report between what they say they want and what they really want.

What is Creativity in the Classroom?

Creativity is defined differently by researchers and educators. From a broader research-driven perspective, creativity is the ability to come up with new ideas as influenced by social and personal factors in a student’s mind that solves a problem. It is an individual’s ability to think for themselves and work out a solution in their own mind with their own knowledge in a way that isn’t standard, but is still viable. An educator’s definition of creativity is more restrained and locked-in to particular subject matters. It involves using intelligence and imagination to produce a tangible result. In other words: a correct answer. Not a unique or novel one, just the one that fills in the right blank.

How is Creativity Measured?

This is also different for researchers and educators. Researchers believe that creativity is about flexibility and fluidity, about thinking on the fly and being open to new ideas to influence a core set of ideas that can then change and adapt. Educators believe creativity is about more simple, gradable assets like artistry, curiosity and intellectual independence. The behaviors of creativity are also valued differently. Researchers see creative students as very free willed and wanting to learn on their own. This, of course, is seen as disruptive by educators who have an obligation to adhere to school policies and want their students to do the same.

What do Educators Value?

Educators seem to value more traditional, submissive roles in students. The more “creative” a student is the less desirable their traits are, and the more problematic they may be viewed. However, this is under the scientific definition of creativity. For the school-regulated definition, a student who expresses an intent to learn according to the lesson plan, has a good memory and recitation ability, and has some desire for artistic expression is suitably “creative” for an educator’s approval.

Learning From Creativity

Educators in a study were asked to value a series of qualities on a scale that they saw as desirable, and a huge majority of educators valued traits that stifled creativity far more than traits that encouraged it. They devalue the characteristics associated with creativity and their

definition of creativity seems to be vastly different from the scientific community’s definition.

In one way, it can be said that educators do not value creativity, unless it’s the kind that lets them conduct their class in their way. They value their own creativity more than that of their students’. The study can be found here.

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