Every teacher wants to spend their time wisely in the classroom. From lesson plans to discussions and grading, teachers are always in pursuit of any new teaching strategy that will result in the most effective way to not only teach students, but to inspire them, captivate them, and educate them.
Today, more and more teachers find themselves overwhelmed, relying on old habits or ways of thinking in order to get through the required curriculum. Unfortunately, this lack of creativity in the classroom is having negative effects on students. And, with nearly 25% of the world’s population in schools, the repercussions of this epidemic are felt by everyone.
According to Dr. Pravin Bhatia, a best-selling author and the co-founder of Creative Education, a simple new teaching strategy can be used in the classroom in order to teach and foster creativity in students of all ages.
The root of the word “education” means to “draw out”. This definition is the key to effective education, although most teachers and classrooms rarely think about it. Rather than “drawing out” ideas and information from students, teachers tend to design lessons that “pump in”. One of the major drawbacks of this strategy is that it leads to very little, if any, interaction with the students.
When teachers try to “pump in” information, students are trapped, their brains either subdued to silence or so bored that they begin to cause chaos in the classroom. Remember, the brain is a muscle, and, like any muscle, it needs to be exercised regularly. When classrooms and teachers only focus on “pumping in” information, the brain becomes mechanical, no longer needing to think creatively or “flex” their muscles, so to speak.
Dr. Bhatia recommends this simple strategy to help education fulfill it’s true purpose of changing the world:
Don’t lecture. Instead, divide students into groups of 4 to 8. (Not above or below; 6 is ideal).
Divide subject matter between groups. Allow each group to take on a specific part of the learning, giving them time to read it for themselves, rather than just hearing you speak it. (For most students, reading is much more effective than hearing.)
Allow groups to discuss. This active discussion among groups engages everyone. Peer learning, or peer tutoring as it’s sometimes called, gives students creative ownership of the subject, and actually requires them to think. During these discussions, your job as a teacher is to clarify questions the groups can’t solve on their own.
Have groups present to class. Because students are responsible for their presentation, they are much more engaged when listening to other groups, which means the information they are receiving will be more thoroughly absorbed.
This type of creative learning strategy uses the main ideas of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, like Socrates, Aristotle, Bernard Shaw and Bertrand Russell. By employing this new teaching strategy, you are encouraging discussion while teaching your students how to pursue knowledge freely.
Education should create intelligence, but the information we as teachers give students is not intelligence in and of itself. Information is not intelligence; intelligence is knowing how to choose what information you need and how to apply it.
As teachers, this is what we are responsible for teaching in the classroom.
To learn more about Dr. Bhatia’s strategy for Creative Teaching, you can watch his TED Talk here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzu9RY4tP-A