Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creativity in 6th Graders? I'm trying!

The research finally came into my classroom.  Thursday, January 3, 2013 at approximately 12:45 pm.  Not sure how it crept into my room, how long it stayed, but I sure felt it's impact.  Hoping to have it vacate soon, however, not really sure how long it will take.

The research that I reference is the notion that students have no creativity.  Many posts, surveys, and documented essays point to a decline in creativity amongst USA students beginning in 1990.  In July of 2010, Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman from Newsweek argued that creativity scores in American children was in 'serious decline'.  Prior to today, I had a small sense that it was true, but was not totally convinced.

Scenario- Using a local Education Foundation grant, I recently purchased three extender kits of littleBits.  Now if you are not familiar with littlebits, imagine electronic legos compete with motors, dimmers, noise makers, light sensors, and more.  After watching a TED Talk on the topic  littlebits TED TALK, and sharing with students, we were all anxiously awaiting their arrival.  Once in the classroom, we spent a few class periods just playing, making noises, figuring out the different parts, etc...I was really excited for the potential that lied within, until the research reared its ugly head!

I met with each small group and shared some info from the littleBits site with regards to plans, ideas, creative thought, etc....  I was quite reluctant to model as I did not want to influence any thought or have students move in one particular direction.  Wow...was the research right.

"Mr. Yetter, we can't think of anything"  "We don't have any supplies"  "Nothing works right"

Thought I was going to be sick.  What went wrong?  What did I do?  How could they not be able to create something with this new and amazing new toy?  Where was the creativity, thought process, FUN??
Oh yeah, it was the research's fault.

Seriously, one of the reasons I went in the direction of the littleBits was to give kids a chance to play.  It fits in perfect with our sixth grade kit on Magnets and Motors.  I wanted to extend, play, have fun, build, CREATE.  Who was I fooling.  The research would have it differently.

So, when kids say they can't think of anything to build, make, create, it's really no ones fault.  They have very few chances, opportunities or maybe even encouragement to do so. 

Well TAKE THAT, research.  Not in my classroom!  Full steam ahead with the littleBits!  We re going to dream, design, and develop some really cool stuff in the next few weeks and teach that research a thing or two!

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