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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

One of the things I think often gets neglected in schools is encouraging the development of creativity and imagination.  So much emphasis seems to be placed on standardized testing and assessing skills in the core areas of Math, English, Science, and Social Studies, that areas like art and music often get pushed aside.  At South Coogee, I have found that these areas of development are emphasized just as much as the development of skills in core, testable subject areas.  Art is displayed everywhere around the school (like the map of Australia below), and children are given awards for artistic ability just as they are for excelling in areas like math.  

Perhaps because of this emphasis on the development of creativity and the use of imagination, the lessons I have observed here seem to be much more interactive and evoke the use of higher-order thinking.  Instead of teaching to some sort of standardized test, my teacher spends a small portion of time delivering content knowledge and the other portion of time encouraging students to think outside the box.  For example, she will deliver a lesson on spelling then encourage students to come up with similes using the words instead of just regular sentences.  Exercises like these require students to use analysis and synthesis - the highest levels of thinking on Bloom's Taxonomy.  She also likes to exercise each student's imagination throughout her lessons by asking questions such as, "here is a clothespin, give me 10 uses for it without mentioning the common uses such as hanging artwork or hanging up clothes."  The kids get really involved in her lessons, and they have wonderful imaginations and creativity because of it.  These skills are just as important to develop as skills in core subject areas, but they are often neglected in the other schools I have seen.  It was refreshing to see that here, and I wish more teachers would adopt similar practices.

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