Can creativity be taught?
This is a question I have found myself wrestling with lately. Can we teach someone to be creative? Part of me has difficulty processing this question because I think creativity, in part, needs to be defined before answering the question. It is even more challenging, however, because I am not sure how to define creativity nor have I found a complete definition that I personally love. I think that if I had to offer a synonym, on the other hand, it may be curiosity.
My son has taken piano lessons using 2 different approaches. Neither approach is the traditional, classically based lessons that emphasize note reading and finger dexterity. His current teacher’s philosophy is based on using songs and teaching them using rote as well as kinaesthetic approaches to get him to internalize rhythms or the notes. Many of the songs are basic, at first, and throughout the lessons they are modified to become more challenging.
One skill he learned was to change a song’s tonality from major to minor using parallel keys. If you are somewhat of a music buff, he would learn a song in C major, then learn how to convert it to C minor. I do really like that approach because it encourages them to internalize key signatures subconsciously. It really develops the musical ear.
Just yesterday, my 7 year old decided to play Für Elise on the piano - this song is a staple to every piano student’s repertoire! He proceeded to convert it to a Major key. This was the first time I was aware that he could even go from minor to major. The astounding point was that not only did he convert it, he transposed it down a key - i.e. he went from A minor to G major. The video below was his 3rd try. He does need to fix the middle section but he did this at first sitting without much hesitation.
What really struck me about this was the connection to my classroom environment. Do I provide my students with a culture that allows them to take these risks? I think I do. Could I do better? I think so too!
How about you? What kind of classroom do you lead? Are you telling students what they should learn from you or are you allowing them to glean what they need to?
Can I teach my students to be creative? No, but I may be able to teach them to be curious. Maybe I just answered my own question!