Thinking Creativity in the Classroom

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Chapter 8 Creativity in the Classroom: Igniting the Fire Robert J. Smith Berea College Beware! What follows is a call for a radically new approach to how we engage our students in the classroom and assist them in the process of becoming lifelong learners and critical thinkers. It is my attempt to sway you to the importance of including a dangerous type of pedagogy that encourages students to think and learn in divergent ways, rather than neatly and uniformly as you and I were probably taught. What follows is a “call to arms,” of sorts, to find ways of infusing a bit of creativity into our classrooms that may very well revolutionize the way we approach our teaching and our students. Okay, perhaps this creativity thing isn’t such a “radically” new approach to teaching or engaging our students, and it probably won’t “revolutionize” the way most of us approach our classrooms. It is, however, an approach that I fear is too often avoided or minimized in many traditional classroom settings. One fact, though, simply cannot be overstated. Today’s classrooms are some of the most diverse and challenging learning environments that higher education has known. Greater numbers of students are entering college than ever before, bringing with them an array of learning styles and backgrounds that may or may not respond well to the traditional lecture on which many of us cut our academic teeth. What’s more, once these students leave the confines of our ivory towers, they will be moving into a world that has also become increasingly complex, diverse, and challenging, requiring that they possess a much more flexible and divergent set of cognitive skills than previous generations. Pedagogies that are enriched by creativity have the potential of offering us a way to reach this diverse array of students and fully engage them with the content- and knowledge-based skills
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