Creativity and Academics Go Hand in Hand!

As a teacher and a parent I have always encouraged creative thinking by providing lots of open-ended materials such as books, blocks, dramatic play items and art materials. When I was at home with my 4-year-old daughter one of our favorite activities was to draw a squiggle on a piece of paper for each other, and then we would each create a drawing from the squiggle. Then we created a drawing from the squiggle. I was lucky enough to have her in my preschool classroom, too, where she was happy and well-behaved, her days filled with creative activities.

Photo courtesy of Selena N.B.H.

Photo courtesy of Selena N.B.H.

But when she went to kindergarten, my daughter’s enthusiasm for school waned. She was anxious and struggling with her work. Her teacher reported that she was well loved by the other students and always participated in all of the activities, but she struggled with her assignments. When I asked to see an example of her work, her teacher showed me a paper where the children were to draw two fish alike. But instead of completing this assignment, my daughter had drawn two detailed fish with purple with pink polka dots.

When I asked why my daughter’s assignment was “wrong,” the teacher produced another child’s assignment where the child had drawn two fish that were exactly the same. And then she produced another, and another, all perfect examples of modeled art. What could have been a creative opportunity was instead a test, and one my daughter had “failed.” I walked away from that conversation with her teacher knowing that I needed to find another learning environment that encouraged creativity, namely, both convergent and divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking is the ability to come up with a single correct answer. This type of thinking is measured through standard testing methods. Divergent or creative thinking is the ability to come up with new and usual answers. Both are important! Let the children in your classroom explore and allow them to express their thoughts and ideas. You’ll be supporting curiosity, flexibility and originality in their work and play, and encouraging unique and effective solutions. Teachers should strive to help children explore their academic potential and their creative potential.

– Stephannie

2 thoughts on “Creativity and Academics Go Hand in Hand!

  1. Stephannie Kennedy

    Yes I was stunned by her teachers response but I learned to advocate for my daughter’s creative expression. She went on to college and received a degree in fine art. She is a wonderful artist!

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