Parent Tech Coffee Morning: Creativity

We had another great conversation this morning, this time about creativity. We started off with this video from one of our favorite resources, PBS OffBook (if you like this video, you will want to check out the others in the series – they’re all great!):

This video prompted a great conversation about a number of interesting topics:

Creativity takes effort: We often feel like you are either creative or you’re not. This video highlighted for us the importance of effort, motivation and perseverance in our creative endeavors. The process of being creative is something we can learn and practice, and continually work towards improving.

Opportunities for creativity at home and in the classroom: We talked about the type of learning that happens here at YIS and the way that we prioritize creative demonstration of learning (rather than regurgitation). The IB programs (PYP and MYP in particular) emphasize student inquiry and allow for many forms of differentiation, which helps encourage students to share their learning in different ways. As teachers, we also have the opportunity to be creative in our instruction and learning environments here at school.  We also talked about student creativity needing adult support – for example, children may say “I’m bored” when they don’t have a defined activity. Rather than solve the “boredom problem” with a movie, a video game, or another device, we may want to encourage exploration and creative thinking with other options. We noted that for the first few times, children may need guidance and support for how to do this – putting out materials to explore with, for example.

Growth mindsets: The idea of continuing to improve our creative ability sparked a conversation about how our own perception of what we can and can’t do can limit us, unintentionally. A number of teachers read the book, Mindset, by Carol Dweck earlier this year, which emphasizes the importance of developing a growth mindset – basically the belief that you can learn new skills and improve in areas where you are weak (in any area of your choosing). One of the key points in the book is that the language that we use with children is very important in developing a growth mindset. Rather than saying “you’re great at that” or “you have a natural talent for that” we may want to use language like “I can see you’ve put a lot of effort into that” or “you’re working really hard in that area and it’s paying off”. The idea that we can work towards improvement in areas where we are strong as well as weak is part of the growth mindset.

The “Taste Gap”: One of the challenges of being creative is that we can often recognize high quality work that we like (this is our taste level), but when we try to produce work like that, we don’t have the skills or ability to do so. Ira Glass describes this as the “taste gap” – the difference between what we would desire to produce at our taste level, and our ability. In this short video (different version below) he talks about the importance of practicing and continual creation in our field of choice to help decrease the gap. Only through repeated effort can we improve our skills to work towards creating work that meets our taste level. This process can be challenging so we need to continue to encourage our children and students to practice and explore and continue creating so that they can improve their skills.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

Wasting time: Because it’s hard to tell what tasks are creative (usually they are also lots of fun), we may interpret what children are doing as “just wasting time” and then ask them to stop. In order to help students develop those creative skills, it may be more valuable to inquire about what they’re doing, how it’s influencing their thinking, and how they might use those ideas to create new works themselves. The earlier we start these conversations, the more routine they will become and the more comfortable students will be in sharing their creative works. This conversation reminded us of this Apple commercial from the holiday season:


Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out: We came back to the value of play many times. Mimi Ito at MIT is doing some interesting work with teens and digital media, one research report we recommend is called Hanging Out, Messing Around and Geeking Out. She has lots of other great work, and this one identifies the different types of activities that teens do when they’re “playing” on the computer. This is a great start to understanding the value of play and spending time online.

Not just creativity, also communication: We realized it’s not only important for students to continue to hone their creative skills, but that they also will need the skills to share what they have created. It’s exciting to think that students can have an global audience for their work, as long as the know how to share. This prompted us to watch a video created by YIS-graduate, Alex Lee, that went viral a few years ago (as well as some creative examples from our current students Julynn (in grade 6), who was inspired by Sara (in grade 7)):


iPad Trial in Grade 7: At the very end of our session, we talked a bit about how different devices can allow us to express creativity in different ways, which connects nicely with our upcoming iPad Trial in Grade 7. If you’re not a Grade 6 or Grade 7 parent, and haven’t heard about the trial yet, you may want to take a look at this recap of the parent session we hosted on March 4th. We’ll be continuing to share more details about the trial as it moves forward, starting with parents and students who are involved in the trial and then sharing more with the wider school community.

Our next Parent Tech Coffee Morning will be Wednesday, 14 May from 9:15 – 10:15 in M101 on the theme of connectedness. This session will highlight some of the ways that students (and teachers) stay connected and why those connections are so important. From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, many people in our community are sharing, collaborating and communicating in a variety of contexts. Come to this session to find out why!

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