Creativity and rigour in teaching
‘Imagination is the beginning of Creation,
You Imagine what you Desire
You Will what you Imagine
And at last
You Create what you Will’
Elizabeth Gilbert said ‘Creativity itself doesn’t care at all about results
– the only thing it craves is the process. Learn to love the process and
let whatever happens next happen, without fussing too much about it.
Work like a monk, or a mule, or some other representative metaphor
for diligence. Love the work. Destiny will do what it wants with you,
Creativity is imagination at its best. Where there is creativity passion will follow suit. It brings in zest to life. Along with passion we can find dedication, determination and the confidence to bring our creative pursuits to life. In our hands our dream creation can come alive.
We all remember Edison who to bring his creativity to light discovered the electric bulb. In the process he not only gave life to his dreams but also brought light and smiles all around the world. He continued his rigour even after failing 999 times. What helped in these failures was his passion and rigour to make his efforts not go in vain. These are the indomitable parts of creativity. Creativity has the power to unleash the talent and rigour within us. Then how can we say that creativity and rigour don’t go hand in hand. Creativity and Rigour may look like two separate pursuits, but to aim for something creative we cannot do without putting in extra hours of rigour.
Teaching is an age old profession, a pillar of our society which has the power to bring so many professions alive. The same teacher through her creativity can bring alive a classroom, taking the young minds on a journey of learning where the yearning never ceases, where the quest for knowledge is on. It can be said Creativity is foreplay for this love to go on a never ending pursuit for knowledge, with the same passion and ardour which the teacher emitted in her class.
Whatever the creative geniuses achieved has been achieved by doing things over and over again within tight boundaries. So is with students, unless and until they put in extra hours whatever they imagine cannot come to the forefront. It requires extra drilling and rigorous practice to make that imagination come out in some productive form.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.
Edward de Bono
While teaching, a teacher needs to be creative, has to put in extra rigour so that she becomes a model to behold for her students. She should help in bringing out creativity in the students which in turn would bring zeal and enthusiasm in them making that rigour spontaneous and help in enhancing their creativity. This can be made possible through her ‘out of the box’ thinking which enables the students to go in for the same. The teacher needs to leave her comfort zone and move away from the traditional lecture method to make the best of her time while in the classroom. To be creative involves courage and risk. All hell may break loose and it might be a place of chaos but if at the end of the day one is able to unleash the creativity of the students you have made your day. It is not only giving a free rein to creativity amongst them but is like opening a store house of passion and rigour in them. They will work whole heartedly instead of making a half-hearted attempt which leads to frustration on both sides. Alan Alda said, ‘The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you’ll discover will be wonderful. What you’ll discover is yourself.’ And sure enough it will be a journey worth embarking. It is said that any invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. The teaching methodology should be inspiring to bring out 99% perspiration of the students.
Though creativity and rigour look poles apart they go hand in hand because as it is rightly said ‘where there’s craft, there’s graft’. Creativity does not mean doing something perfectly. We should apply the same rigour to mistakes. We should make sure we approach mistakes with a keen eye for finding the golden nuggets within them. But then be encouraged to fail fast and fail once. Learning from mistakes and nearing perfection with rigour is what makes us creative. As Scott Adams has aptly said ‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’ Learn to make mistakes because then only will the doorway to your creative pursuits open.
It has been rightly said that ‘No one can say he has learnt enough. We are all learners’. It is, therefore, true that we teach best what we most want to learn. While bringing in creativity to our teaching, mistakes are permissible but what is important is how much learning we achieve through them. A teacher should always remember that the students are fountain heads of energy and creativity. She just needs to harness for empowering them and also to bring forth the most required value, missing in today’s youth – Interest. Once interest is created, both can walk miles together to cross the frontiers of their knowledge, making a wonderful contribution to their Teaching Learning Process. Rigour added to creativity brings perfection and makes learning an enjoyable process. Have we not heard from our teachers and are telling this to our students that ‘Practice makes a man perfect’?
A teacher should remember that there is a fountain of youth: in her mind, her talents, the creativity that she brings to her life and the lives of students that are left in her care. She should remember that she is dealing with the young, she needs to think like them and when she learns to tap this source, she will truly be a role model for her students – her classes will be the most sought after and she would have not only brought satisfaction to her endeavours but would have defeated age. Her youth will remain intact, she would remain forever young, would have surpassed old age and would have brought a new vitality through her creativity and rigour thus becoming invincible.
Being creative and making others creative is a highly rigorous process. It involves planning, originality of ideas, and the making of a meaningful product. It is a highly collaborative process that involves a great deal of critical thinking. Thus very few teachers want to venture into this arena. They prefer traditional ways to creative thinking. They feel it involves a lot of time but in reality one just needs to analyse and evaluate. Is this not what Bloom’s taxonomy propagates? Are Higher Order Thinking Skills not to be imparted? Should we not promote creativity? Lower order thinking skills anyone can impart but true teaching is when we are able to promote Critical and ‘Out of the Box’ thinking. Creative stimulation can help not only in engaging a class but also in the holistic development of the learner. The teacher and the environment she creates in the class can help the young brains to start flying with bright colors.
Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.
Creativity involves the 3Ps – Passion, Patience and Perfection. Passion for work and profession helps in becoming creative. The love for the students and your subject can help in scaling the uncountable summits of endurance – a quest to leave no stone unturned, which teaches us not only to be passionate but to be patient because the road may not be smooth, there might be many hindrances in your way and you will have to remove the thorns patiently. You might have to pursue again and again because you are dealing with heterogeneous classes where the response might be good in some and at times zero but that doesn’t mean that you have failed. It only means you have to put in a little more of your imagination and rigour because only then you can strive for perfection and make your students do the same because when it comes to thinking beyond, we become blank and thus we do not encourage our learners to go wild and give wings to their imagination. The more creative they are, the more interest will be created and more motivating and engrossing the class will become, thus leading to perfection.
So, if one is really passionate about teaching one has to ensure that rigour and creativity go hand in hand. It’s like bringing quality and craftsmanship – hand and mind working together or the marriage between techniques and expression. To sum up, teaching is craftsmanship that brings about a civilizing force and the ability to plug real thinking into real doing which is extremely important.
So let the imagination take wings and rigour its course.
An alumna of St. Mary’s Convent, Vandita Sharma is an educator whose passion is teaching. She has a missionary zeal and a natural flair for creative writing and encourages the students to do the same and gives them a platform to compete in various national and international competitions. She is a teacher, guide, friend, philosopher and mentor for her students. She is a disciplinarian and practices what she preaches, which has helped her in inculcating values in them. She is at present working in Birla Balika Vidyapeeth, Pilani, where she teaches English and is the Editor of the School Magazine.
She feels that learning is a journey of sharing knowledge and her quest for perfection is on.