In education, the phrase "think outside the box" has been used far too often; we have become immune to the term. But it is also true that far too often, we try to fit kids into a one-size-fits-all mold, and in doing so, we prevent them from showing the world their unlimited potential. Think about it this way: if you keep shoving things into a box, eventually the whole box breaks. And that is what we are doing to many of society's most innovative minds.
And once again, we must take sides.
Friends, nothing anyone has ever said or written has ever convinced me that I should place students on a conveyor belt and put them together on an assembly line. Advocates of such a system are looking for simplicity, but they miss the mark by a million miles. They search and search for some post-modern methodology that will work every time with every learner, but they come far from their target, resulting instead in frustrated and burned out parties on every side.
Contrary to popular thinking, kids are human beings...and humans just aren't wired that way. We were created as individuals, and we all function differently. We are not part of a collective. We are neither Borg nor Na'vi. Kids, too.
Anyone who places kids into a one-size-fits-all system probably doesn't realize what s/he's asking for. If such a system were to work as planned, what would be the result? One product reproduced by the dozens, the hundreds, the millions? Since when do we wish for humanity to be programmed like robots and mass produced in public school systems around the world? We must, instead, yearn for and work toward continued individuality and empowerment for our students.
Author and teacher Kim Bearden doesn't get that philosophical with her chapter about creativity, but she clearly gets it right with the words she chooses. Her book, Crash Course, does a fine job of demonstrating the humanity of her students and the lessons she learns from them every day. In fact, she is passionate about fostering the individual strengths for each student in her classroom. Daily.
That doesn't mean my students are going without leadership and guidance. They do not get to slide around in the school just doing whatever they want to do. They may be empowered, but they must be empowered under the boundaries of society and in the interest of order.
I could not guide them properly if I, myself, were to have my creativity squelched. If what we say is true about cookie-cutter kids, raised by one-size-fits-all teachers, then the same must be true when administrators and legislators force one-size-fits-all methods on their teachers. Creativity is definitely one of the keys we use to unlock the "unlimited potential" in every student and educator.