Imagine a scenario in which two teachers assign their classrooms two different projects about the same topic. One teacher decides to require her students to memorise and recite the poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. The other teacher reads the same poem with her classroom and encourages them to discuss it and analyse it together. After, she asks them to write their own nonsense poem.
Which classroom do you feel had the more valuable and effective learning experience? Likely the classroom in which the students were allowed to use their creativity to connect with the poem being discussed. While memorisation and reiterating facts is the more traditional approach to education, at OWIS, our IB PYP teachers believe that using inquiry-based learning to encourage creative thinking is more effective with young students.
The Importance of Fostering Creativity Through Education
- Being creative allows students to learn to express themselves. When specific instructions or step-by-step directions are not restricting them, students have an opportunity to discover their interests and passions. They can decide to use their favourite colours or think outside the box when writing down their ideas. This helps them embark on a journey of self-discovery and learn to be proud of the person that they are.
- Creativity helps build critical thinking and problem-solving skills. When students are allowed to express themselves creatively, they will encounter situations that require critical thinking to solve. This helps them hone those skills without forcing them to complete specific critical thinking or problem-solving exercises.
- Creativity-building exercises make learning fun. Young children spend a lot of time learning what the rules are, and they spend a lot of energy abiding by those rules. When they can be free to express themselves while learning, they will feel less restricted. They will grow to love the process of learning.
- When students are given the opportunity to be creative, they feel a sense of accomplishment in what they produce. Young students will be more proud of their work when they feel it is truly theirs.
- Creativity-building exercises encourage students to take risks, make mistakes and keep trying. Teachers who give students the freedom to make their own choices while completing their work or playing in the classroom also provide them with the freedom to take risks. They quickly learn that perseverance is the key to success.
How OWIS’ IB PYP Encourages Creativity in Young Learners
The IB PYP is a transdisciplinary programme that seeks to develop students as learners who work well within a learning community. The curriculum framework is based on six themes, which are:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organise ourselves
- Sharing the planet
The IB PYP teachers at OWIS create lesson plans based on these themes that incorporate creative activities and projects in which the students have the freedom to express themselves. These are just a few examples of the types of activities that are used to inspire creativity in young learners at OWIS:
- When covering the “Where we are in time and place” theme, students are sometimes allowed to dress up as their favourite explorer. Then, they get their own compass and are given the freedom to explore the school campus. While they are exploring, they have to keep a journal — just like Sinbad the Sailor did!
- When beginning a new unit of inquiry, teachers will often give students a provocation. Provocations are an exercise where students are given an open-ended question related to the new unit they will be discussing. This type of exercise requires the student to do their own thinking about the topic before their teacher has introduced the concept. It prevents them from being trapped by the confines of the information that an adult has provided to them.
- When teachers at OWIS begin to teach a new lesson, they consider how they can incorporate transdisciplinary learning into the experience. For example, a teacher who is covering plant life cycles in a science class may also talk about deforestation or climate change as well as ways students can work together to protect plants and the environment. This approach shows students how all material that they learn is interconnected, and that their new knowledge can be applied in real-world scenarios. Learning is never dull and their creativity is always stimulated to analyse a topic from all angles.
- When introducing the concept of counting to students, the Early Childhood teachers set up a pretend shop that the students can use while they play. In the shop, they are required to count out money for the items that they choose. The students feel as if they are playing pretend with their friends, but in reality, they are practising the skills they are learning and applying them in real-world scenarios.
- When students reach Grade 5 at OWIS, they are given the task of coming up with their own unit of inquiry to study, and it is put on display at the Grade 5 Exhibition at the end of the year. While creating their unit of inquiry and being guided by their teachers at OWIS, students have a unique opportunity to take control of their learning. This sense of autonomy allows students to feel empowered and naturally encourages them to set their own goals and hold themselves accountable.
At OWIS, our IB PYP teachers are trained to incorporate elements into their lesson plans that spark creativity and encourage students to stay motivated. They know how to inspire discussion among their students, and they believe that their role is to serve as a guide throughout their educational experience. Not only are our teachers trained in this unique approach to education, but they firmly believe in the OWIS model. Every day that they arrive in the classroom provides them with a new opportunity to teach their students in a creative and innovative way. For them, each day is just as exciting and interesting as it is for the students who rely on them!
If you want your child to grow and thrive in an environment where their creativity will be nurtured, then the OWIS IB PYP is the best option for your family. For more information about the IB PYP at OWIS, schedule a virtual tour with us.
(All OWIS photographs in this blog article were taken pre-Covid. The school is adhering to hygiene protocols and social distancing measures as recommended by the CPE and Ministry of Health, Singapore.)