No white space!

This image I saw on social media today got me thinking about creativity. In fact, it made me a little angry, just as it did Amy Burvall, who posted a commentary. You can see what is happening. This teacher is insisting on the 'proper' way to do something. In this case, it's drawing, or colouring - and it's clear to see that s/he is trying to scaffold children into a 'correct way' to do it. But what if there are many ways to do it, and in their own way, all of them are correct?

Creativity isn't something you can keep inside a box. Expression of ideas cannot be contained with rules. Colouring outside the lines should be allowed. Some of the best inventions of the last century were made by breaking or bending the rules. We need to realise that the most agile workers in the 21st Century are those who are creative in their approach. How can we nurture our future generation of citizens if their creativity is stifled?

Yes colours make sense, but they make different sense to different people. Travelling on a train a few years ago, I was listening to a mother coaching her daughter to write our a Father's Day card. The little girl started to colour a heart in, and used a blue crayon. The mother told her that hearts should be coloured in red. 'But this is my heart', insisted the little girl, 'and it's blue'.

If educators always insist on 'one answer', or the 'correct way' to do something, do we not constrain the creative instincts of our students? Why shouldn't there be some white space occasionally? If there is always something we don't know, and always a mystery about what we are learning, curiosity will continue to drive us forward. As educators it is our responsibility to encourage students to learn in any way possible. One of the best ways to stop this from happening is to impose rules that oppose creativity.

Let the children play!

Image source: Amy Burvall on Twitter

Creative Commons License
No white space! by Steve Wheeler was written in Plymouth, England and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Comments

simfin said…
When my eldest was in year 1 they were tasked to write their first piece of creative continuous writing, quite the milestone in her first steps to enjoying expressing herself through words and language. She came home and told us about her story - and how the teacher put it in the wastebasket and explained she'd 'written about the wrong thing.' I despair.
Steve Wheeler said…
Oh good grief. Something better change.
Colette Wall said…
My daughter used to draw abstract shapes or 'scribble' in black pen and then colour in the gaps, much the same as many colouring books for mindfulness. Her teacher expressed concern about my daughter's development as this 'was not normal'. Well, thank God for that!!
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks Colette. I wonder how many otheres have experienced similar in the classroom? Let the children play!
Liz Brant said…
Our education system in the U.K. is sadly about how to pass the exam, not how to be creative. So in this context I think this is s very useful diagram for kids. It shows them exactly what they have to do to get an A star ⭐️ in drawing. You can still draw a wonderful personal style star, flower and tree at any other time but not in the assessment please!😜
Unknown said…
Thanks for sharing!
Steve Wheeler said…
Thanks for the comment Liz. I see your point, and can appreciate the logic behind it, but are we sending the wrong message to kids by doing this?
Steve Wheeler said…
It's what I do best.
AndrewJacobsLD said…
It doesn't stop at school...
https://lostanddesperate.com/2013/03/13/learning-by-numbers/
Steve Wheeler said…
I suspected as much. Depressing.

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