We can talk all day long about the new regulations for schools and testing, and about how teachers have to teach to the test now more than ever before. In fact, we should have those conversations because they are very relevant to the conversations that we are having now about creativity. The fact that teachers must teach to the test means that they highly value one type of student over another: mostly the one who shows the least amount of traits related to creativity.
We have talked a lot about different types of schools and different types of teaching that can engage students and get their creative juices flowing. What I have found is that, through these different types of teaching, the academic knowledge comes with it. Like Gever Tulley said in his video, it comes for free! I just had two and three year olds write the letter “T” on tickets that we made for a movie theatre that we were building to put on a production of “The Three Billy Goats Gruff”. Numbers and counting, dramatic play, letters, good vs. evil, etc., etc. Unlimited learning from one activity. Now we are doing the “Three Little Pigs” and we are exploring building, language (apparently my kids have drinking straws confused with the type of straw that the pig built their house with), counting, different types of houses, rooms in houses, shapes involved in building houses, items in a house, the effects of wind, the amount of wind it takes to do damage to the items used to build the houses in the book – the exploration opportunities are endless.
Because teachers and administrators have had to become so worried about standardized testing, these exploration-based and thought-provoking types of activities are being left behind as children are being made to sit and memorize in an effort to pass tests. They aren’t learning anything meaningful about life at their desks, getting ready for these tests! Because teachers have to worry about their jobs because of these tests, they value the students who make it easier for them to teach in the way that they need to in order to ensure that the students will be able to pass the tests.