Creativity assignments in modern classroom: Pro vs. Con

PRO:

Another rubric from your English teacher. Another Schaffer-style essay you have to write. Doesn’t sound too fun, does it? A majority of written assignments in high school follow a format that limits the creativity student can express.

For example, take the Schaffer-style essays: it follows the format of TS, CD, CM, CM, transition, CD, CM, CM, CS. Although the CD and CM positions are interchangeable, the format is restrictive because students can only write a certain number of sentences per “chunk” or paragraph. In addition, teachers dock off points if students fail to use all parts of the “chunk.”  

Many students whom I have spoken to believe this “limit” set  by the Schaffer format prevents them from expressing their ideas fully. Sure, it’s arguable that you can vary the information in each sentence, but it’s just not enough for other students to express themselves. Besides, there’s really no alternative: if students don’t follow the format, their grades will drop On the other hand, kindergarten, elementary, and middle schools have taught us all to think outside of the box. Yet, high schools and universities reward conformists who follow the standardized rules.

So should we introduce a more creative writing method? Or should we implement time into class schedules for independent writing? Creativity is one of the goals of education in general. Independent writing encourages independent thought; perhaps bringing higher success rates when dealing with academic challenges. Students will also be driven to ask new questions and develop innovative answers.

There’s no limit to what creativity can bring to the classroom. Thanks to creativity, class discussions will become more livelier and meaningful. Teachers will have more freedom in other styles of writing or altering their lesson plans. Essays will no longer be a tedious burden to students.

Restraints on science projects will no longer deter students picking their favorite topic. Teachers have greater freedom to alter lesson plans in their math or history classes. It’s a win win for students and educators.

It’s time to re-evaluate the importance of creativity in classrooms. Is creativity merely an idea education advocate, or an idea that education transforms into reality?

CON:

Time to play the bad guy. Because we’re trying to learn, let alone pass AP tests at the end of the year, creativity should play no part in the classroom.

As much as I like open-ended writing projects and oral presentations, these are not tangible methods of learning. There is a time and place for these expressive activities, but in the realms of English, math, science and history, they prove inferior. Extracurricular skills such as oration and imagination abide by their name: they are extra to the curriculum.  

There seems to be a misconception that teachers who shun creativity are “boring” and favor conformity. In reality, they are simply resorted to give students less academic freedom. There is very limited time in the school year —  less than 180 days, limited further by interrupting schedules and holidays.

To make one thing clear, I am not advocating for one-sided minds who think to only memorize formulas; I do promote the fostering of creative minds with pragmatic knowledge. Rigor and structure, ironically, are still the best equation for learning creativity. Certain classes I have taken, such as AP US History and AP Literature, have a tremendous amount of structure with little to no creative processes, yet, have proved the most rewarding in terms of teaching how to be creative with essays and analyzing passages. Creative minds are ultimately a byproduct of the solid framework of classes.

As for mathematics, we all know the drill: our classes follow a strict order of lectures and tests maybe a quiz here or there to excite us. When we receive a project, all of a sudden we celebrate because it is deviant from our ordinary, monotonous pattern. These projects, while there is some validity to them, are generally unnecessary and simply a way to amuse bored students. Teaching real-world applications can be done without involving excessive creativity in the classroom.

We learn how to write and how to do certain problems. The logic behind this is very simple: that’s what we need to know. It may not be “fun” but it’s a standard that we must abide to in order to confirm that students are receiving adept education. Teachers who assign a disproportionate amount of creative assignments should consider what this does for students’ learning, when time could be used for much more productive means of work.

By Brian Chen and Phillip Leung, Opinion editors
Photos by Richard Zhang


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