Creativity Brown Bag

How does creativity factor into the teaching of TESOL and Applied Linguistics? What about Social Studies or Technology?

Professor Lori Custodero sat down with faculty from all over the college for two brown bag lunch discussions, on March 3rd and March 31st, to talk about the role of creativity in education and research across multiple disciplines.

The question prompted a discussion not only about uses for creativity in teaching and research, but also exploring various definitions and means for identifying and assessing it.

Opening the door for creativity can start with identifying where it might be lacking in the classroom and then fostering an environment in which it can grow. But how, practically, can this be accomplished?

During the course of the discussion, the theme of collaboration emerged repeatedly. Revisiting a topic from fresh angles becomes easier when experts in different fields can be consulted. The methods of analysis used in one field may provide new insights to familiar problems in another. Similarly, when people from two different cultural groups work together, they will be more likely to find solutions to a problem that neither would have considered independently.

Involving creativity may often be a matter of bringing the arts into a topic where they do not typically play a role. The use of visual arts, music and play in Movement Science, for example, can encourage healthy choices that are also fun choices, making people want to move on their own. The arts often provide new perspectives and means for multi sensory involvement, allowing students and teachers to see past the verbal.

But does working within artistic disciplines themselves automatically lead to creativity and imagination?

Some pedagogies involving the arts lead to creativity by virtue of their being new or innovative to the applied field, such as Movement Science, but whether use of the arts always translate as creativity is still a topic to explore in more depth.

The roadblocks to creativity can sometimes be immense, though, starting with a frequent lack of resources or funding. The decision to step outside the lines with a creative approach is a challenging one to make because it requires students, teachers and researchers to free themselves from familiar territory.

Teachers must think about new strategies in that where creativity is concerned, a student may appear to be off-task when he or she is actually engaged in constructing a creative response to a question or task in a way the teacher – and possibly other students – did not envision. To consistently put fresh innovations into practice and encourage new ways of thinking is a challenge that becomes difficult to sustain because of the amount of energy that is expended every time a risk is taken or a new path is explored. And even a creative idea, once implemented, can become familiar and will eventually require further steps in order to continue stretching toward innovation and imagination.

In order to sustain changes in the approach to creativity at Teachers College and beyond, the faculty who attended the lunches intend to create teams for specific projects. Some possibilities include introducing the concept of creativity to revitalize existing projects and collaborating to produce new ones.

As specific programs continue to evaluate how these innovations will be most meaningful to their own work, ideas will be collected together to encourage future collaboration. This will provide the means for continuous discussion as well, so that projects and ideas are kept in the forefront of everyone’s mind and creativity can continue to be a priority in approaching TC’s varied projects and initiatives in every discipline.