Encouraging creativity can improve education - Purdue Exponent: Opinions

Encouraging creativity can improve education

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Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 10:00 am | Updated: 4:58 pm, Sun Nov 18, 2012.

What would education look like if we re-evaluated the norms and challenged the future of our country?

K-12 education sets the stage for higher education and what students will go on to do for the rest of their lives. The education hierarchy of math and science is holding educators and students back from exercising the full potential of America’s future.

Incorporating creativity into all aspects of education, as well as changing America’s view of standardized testing, are two important aspects that we as adults need to consider for the next generation of students.

Creativity has continuously been cut from the K-12 school day due to a lack of funding. When schools’ budgets are cut, the first things that seem to go are art and music programs.

Not only are these programs vital for well-rounded educated individuals, but according to Rocky Killion, superintendent of West Lafayette schools, students who are involved in these programs do better in other academic aspects.

Being creative should not stop with just the arts in education. The most memorable experiences within my own education have been with educators who took simple math and science concepts and applied them in real-world scenarios.

“I think creativity can be brought into any environment,” Killion said.

Squashing creativity in K-12 or in higher education can determine whether a student chooses a specific career path later in life, or even wants to continue with any education.

In my own experience, I had teachers talk to my parents about me talking too much in class and being too outspoken. My parents’ response to them was, “So what?” They said as long as she is a good student, why does she have to fit into the societal norm of always keeping her mouth shut?

If my parents had not stuck up for me like they did, would I be a communication major now? Who knows?

Elizabeth Schlesinger-Devlin, director of Purdue’s Ben and Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School, said educators encouraging open-ended creativity with developing children is a crucial part of creating well-educated people.

Supporting creativity in the classroom is only the first step in revamping education as we know it. The second step involves standardized testing, which does not and will never be able to accurately test the true knowledge of a student – especially when it comes to their creativity.

If America wants to achieve a higher educational system that competes with other global systems that have better ways of educating and do not use standardized testing, then something needs to change.

Obviously, if the same student can take the SATs five times and get different scores every time, the student’s true knowledge is not being examined. Colleges base acceptance off of these tests and yet the tests do not really determine who students really are or what they really know.

What if a system was put in place in education to resemble more of what Eagle Scouts have to complete to receive their titles?

According to Killion, using the information that students have learned and having them create a type of product where they have to apply their knowledge would delve into the individual’s knowledge.

Eagle Scouts have to go through various tasks, learn skills along the way and build on those skills to eventually accomplish their goal.

If educators and college application programs approached testing students in this way to determine their depth of knowledge, students might actually be challenged and might not just regurgitate information they memorize.

America’s entire education system would look a lot different, could compete better with the rest of the world’s systems and might even produce a more advanced generation of individuals who are well-rounded in all aspects.

Encourage your local schools and even professors to support creativity and start thinking out of the societal norm box of education. Log on to riseabovethemark.com and see what West Lafayette is trying to do to start this change from the inside out.

Taylor Carlier is a junior in the College of Liberal Arts and can be reached at opinions@purdueexponent.org.

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