This week’s essential question opened up a can of worms I was not expecting…
I was under the impression, “Of course we need to incorporate creativity in our technology plans!” No further explanation needed! But as I read through the responses of others, I came to realize that this idea actually challenges the basic structure of our current educational model.
Thomas posed the question to me, “If we mandate creativity, is it really creativity or following a mandate?” Ska-doosh! Brain-ache! I pondered this quite a bit and personally, I think that mandated creativity is okay—but it does require a lightening up of an expected product. For example: I pass out a paper circle and a paper square to all students. There are two ways I can go about doing this project. I can give them very specific, and very detailed instructions on what to do. It is expected that everybody’s end product will be exactly the same. Those who do exactly what I asked of them will get a good grade. Those who miss a step or two will get lower and so on and so forth. Now let’s say I tell the students, “You have in front of you a circle and a square. Your goal is to create something.” And leave it at that. What would I get? Depending on the age range of the class, I would probably get kitty-cats, monsters, houses, stars, maybe even a mathematical diagram. Is this the wrong thing? The artist in me giggles like a little girl at this prospect, but my teacher brain asks, “How do I measure this? How is this measureable? How do I record these results?” Bah! We have organized ourselves into a measureably, educated corner.
Take a look at YouTubers. They’re not all finely polished artists being paid mad bucks to do their thing. They started out as regular people sharing what they love! Smosh is a duo of two bestfriends who started out by doing a lip-synching rendition of the theme song of “Pokemon.” Why? Because they just loved Pokémon and they thought it would be funny. They now have over a billion subscribers to their challenges and are being paid over $100,000 a year for the advertising opportunities they provide. Is that successful? How do you measure that kind of creativity? I mean, people tune in every Thursday to watch these guys eat their lunches and answer silly questions from Twitter (I admit, I’ve watched quite a few). However you interpret Smosh (success or just a plain ridiculous fad), they started out with a simple webcam.
Ever hear of Justin Beiber? He’s probably one of the most famous YouTubers. As a juvenile, Beiber started posting videos of him singing and playing the guitar because he loved making music and wanted to share it. Whether or not you like his music, you’ve got to admire such a story. And while YouTube is the biggest “thing” now, technology trends predict that it won’t always be that way. It is important for our students to be pliable and adaptable in a creative, intelligent manner!