Fostering Creativity: Preparing Students For A Changing Future

As we have discussed previously, the world of tomorrow may look very different than it does today, especially for students who will be entering the workforce in the coming decades. For many students, the future has never looked brighter - but, in many respects, more challenging. Expertise in subjects like science, mathematics, technology, and engineering, are now starting to share the spotlight with the one element that automation can never replace: pure human creativity.

“Creativity” is more than just art, or music, or play time - it’s a whole wide range of thoughtful skills, which builds a foundation of learned traits like self-confidence, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and challenging conventional wisdom.

Today, educators working with students simply cannot overlook the value of creativity, as it is a critical skill for young workers entering the job market that has been pushed aside in education by the “need” for high test scores driven by a cookie-cutter education model. Teachers should be working towards fostering creativity and critical thinking skills in students early and to help students recognize their education as a continuous growth tool (outside the four walls of a school building) that is laying the groundwork for long-term personal success.

Below is a look at some proven, effective strategies to spark creative in real-world, self-actualizing activities to help foster and encourage creative thinking among students.

Where’s the Inspiration?

The cycle of becoming a good test-taker and getting praise is churning out comfortably boxed-in non-thinkers. This model allows a comfort zone where using creative and critical thinking don’t have to come in to play, so they won’t. A student is counting on doing their required XYZ, and ta-da, good grade! The message is that following this formula is the ticket to success in life.

To reshape this linear thinking, educators should encourage students to find inspiration in their everyday lives beginning with purposeful, mindful observation. By taking the time to pay attention and think about their everyday activities, students can begin to see their own actions in a new light. Teachers can guide students through questioning how their world works and what students could do to improve their own actions and to just take time to reflect on situations around them.

Some key methods for encouraging mindful observation include:

  1. Encouraging students to keep an informal journal or notebook to record thoughts, feelings, and observations
  2. Guiding students in times of quiet meditation to shut out distractions and allow for moments of introspection
  3. Setting aside time for slow-pace activities in thought-provoking settings, like walks in nature or a visit to a museum

By engaging in mindful observation on a regular basis, these quiet, reflective activities can help provide clarity in a chaotic world. Students are more likely to see improvements in their own attention, retention, and attitude while decreasing stress, which can clear the way for sparks of creative and innovative thought.

Finding Unique Sources of Inspiration

When it comes to encouraging students to express themselves in new ways, educators can help students challenge assumptions and get students thinking creatively about their goals and desires:

  1. Who inspires the student? How much does a student wish to mirror their source of inspiration, and how much to they want to blaze new trails? 
    Guide students in starting new clubs or activities to express their strengths and interests or to discover new or underutilized talent
     
  2. How does a student’s unique inspiration compare to those of their peers?
    Encourage cooperation between groups of students engaged in different activities to build trust among diverse interest groups

By encouraging students to seek unique avenues of expression, educators can help students lead the charge among their peers in bringing attention to their personal strengths and avenues of creativity.

Using Long-Term, Creative Group Projects

No individual is an island - and even the most self-driven students must rely on their peers when assigned a group project. It is crucial to teach students the value of communal problem-solving, and how to best utilize the skills and ideas of others to achieve their common goal. This invaluable skill also imparts on students the ability to self-reflect in how to achieve their own personal goals, by understanding that others can be invaluable to helping them progress beyond where they could alone.

As many adults already know, even the best laid plans for a project can often run into unexpected problems that require creative solutions. By having students look at the problem or challenge they all share and encourage them to find a group-based solution, teachers can help facilitate building several key skills, including:

  1. How to work with others to align unique goals into one common purpose
  2. The best methods of resolving internal disputes in respectful and resourceful ways
  3. Ways to elevate the voices of others in the group
  4. Reaching consensus and overcoming obstacles with unity
  5. Reflection on what is learned if the end result of the project does not turn out like a student hoped and how can this be resolved or prevented in future group projects?

Teamwork and cooperation are critical skills in just about every industry, and those students who can bring a high level of creativity to a team setting will be much more likely to find success in their later studies and their careers beyond school. By teaching these planning and execution skills at an early age, students learn to better anticipate and overcome the kinds of challenges that are most likely to hold back others when they enter or engage in a quickly-changing workforce.

Creativity In Action

At World Academy, we focus on educating the “whole child” in every student, with a focus on encouraging their growth in everything from STEAM skills, to athletics, to peer cooperation, and much more. As ever-evolving technology and automation continue to change the world and the workforce of the future, today’s students need to build these creative skills to better fit the needs of tomorrow. Creative thinking is encouraged here at an early age and cultivated until graduation. Our educators focus on encouraging individual student growth beyond just current success, because we know our students will be tomorrow’s leaders, do-ers, visionaries and innovators in their chosen fields- whatever those may be - and we confidently send them with the skills to persevere through what the future world has in store for them.

**************

World Academy is a state licensed, independent, developmentally-appropriate and academically rigorous private school for children from ages Six weeks through Grade 8. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it offers high quality Early Childhood Programs, Elementary and Middle School, Before and Afterschool Programs, and SummerQuest Camp. For almost 40 years the school has been dedicated to providing all students with a high-quality, 21st-century, diverse, “whole child” focused education that supports families and engages all facets of a child’s being, including cognitive/intellectual, physical, social-emotional, cultural and creative aspects.

Located at 138 Spit Brook Road in Nashua, the state-of- the-art 55,000 square-foot campus features specialized wings for Nursery, Preschool, Elementary and Middle School students; three age-appropriate playgrounds; a natural playground; two in-ground swimming pools; a Gymnasium/Theater complex with a rock climbing wall; nature trails; a soccer field; an accelerated Math Program; immersive World Languages programs; Lego Robotics built into the curriculum for K-8; and much more.

Students from World Academy have consistently been accepted into their first choice schools including Groton School, Middlesex School, Lawrence Academy, Bishop Guertin High School, Central Catholic High School, Berwick Academy, The Derryfield School, and The Pike School, to name a few.

For more information, contact Samantha Wingate, Director of Admissions at 603-888-1982.