Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of creative confidence. At its core it’s about believing in your ideas and that you hold the ability to have a positive impact on the world.
I share with people all the time that I’m always amazed by kindergarten students. Whenever faced with a challenge, they somehow jump right in and offer solutions that they truly believe will work. They eagerly share solutions to everyday challenges without censoring themselves or second-guessing their ability to actually be a part of a change for the better. But what happens with these eager students as they move into higher grades? At what point do they start to censor themselves and display that creative confidence in a muted way? I’ve had students as young as those in grades 4 and 5 who no longer believed in their ideas and genuinely didn’t know what steps to take in order to solve a problem “in the right way”. How did they get there? How do we get them back? I wonder if the following elements that exist in Kindergarten classrooms might be key in answering these questions.
If I haven’t mentioned it before, I have the two most amazing nephews in the entire world! I genuinely love watching them play. Sometimes in role as others or even just as themselves, they interact and problem solve on the fly. Issues come up when the other character doesn’t quite respond in the way one expects and they have to come up with a solution so that the game or activity continues. There’s the freedom to play anything and to try anything. The idea that you have to be good at playing just doesn’t exist. They just do it at home and at school. I wonder if we adopted the same idea for older students as they entered the classroom, what might the learning be like? What if tools were given and they were asked to interact with them in a way similar to play? What if there was no association with being good at something but the idea of just jumping in and trying it was valued. Would students engage more and worry less about the outcome? Would they embrace failure and try again, ultimately learning as they try again? How would our classrooms be different if this concept or idea was valued well after kindergarten?
Kindergarten students are forever designing something for someone or something. They build homes for their figurines with blocks and use craft materials to build homes for animals. They also draw pictures to bring a smile to a loved-one’s face and some use tech to create. How might we keep this going as they age? It’s no secret that I’m going to say…dig deep into Design Thinking! It’s a creative framework that can be used in any discipline to allow students to hone their creativity as they work towards creating unique and innovative solutions for real-world problems. Consider the learning goals that you are working towards, connect them to a real-world problem and let students engage in the process. The more that they see themselves as creators of meaningful change in the world, the greater their creative confidence will be!
I can’t help but be inspired by the interdisciplinary learning that happens in kindergarten. This reminds me of the learning that happens as adults. I joke that I don’t just do Math between 10:30 and 11:30 and often wonder why this is the case for our students. What if we were able to integrate subjects? What if students saw connections between the work that they were doing in Language and in Math? Or Social Studies and Science? Would they learn more easily learn the transferability of skills? I know that it’s a challenge when we have a specific number of minutes or hours of a specific course that have to be completed and even more so in Secondary Schools where subjects are taught by specialists. In what ways might we make a shift so that learning isn’t so siloed? I don’t have an answer but I wonder if when students see the connections between subjects, if they might just become more excited about approaching something new because they realize that they have a tool-kit from a variety of subject areas that can be meshed together to them as they go.
I’m working on my own creative confidence by playing more, designing new things at Future Design School and thinking about how I might be able to help others with interdisciplinary planning and learning for students. I’ll keep you posted on how things go!