The creative classroom! A book review

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In 1900, about 95% of Jobs were low-skilled and required workers to follow simple procedures that were designed by others. Today, less than 10% of jobs are like this. We live in a creative age, and any activity that doesn’t involve creativity will soon be automated.

Keith Sawyer, 2019.

Hi all! For this blog post, I decided to review a book that I read a few months ago. The creative classroom: Innovative Teaching for 21st-Century Learners. In this book, Keith Sawyer, an expert in creativity research, talks about teaching and learning creatively.

Sawyer introduces the concepts of guided improvisation as a pedagogical approach to teach creatively. He also describes two types of knowledge: shallow knowledge and creative knowledge, being creative knowledge, the one that will equip students with skills to be creative in any subject and be able to thrive in the creative age. Reading about this was just music to my ears!

I would love to tell you all about the details, but I don’t want to give away all the exciting things that this book unpacks! However, I’ll summarize the most interesting points in my opinion, and if you are interested, I recommend you dig deeper. It is a practical, smooth reading that will make you think about teaching, learning, and creativity.

So, in summary, one of the concepts that resonated with me was guided improvisation. Guided improvisation is a pedagogy rooted in the constructivist theory, where the teacher gives students the freedom to explore the subject and create their own understandings.

Another interesting concept in the book is shallow knowledge, which is the one where students use only the most superficial level of cognitive processing as they learn, memory. Sawyer states that you cannot be creative with shallow knowledge. His research shows that it’s not enough to teach creativity as a general ability if at the same time, you keep teaching shallow knowledge in all the subjects and that the best way to teach creativity is to teach creative knowledge in all subjects. When you learn creative knowledge, you understand what you’re learning.

According to Sawyer (2019), the characteristics of creative knowledge are that it is deep, big, connected, flexible, supports thinking and acting, prepares you for new learning, and supports interdisciplinarity. Teaching this type of knowledge supports creativity in the classroom.

Finally, if you want to read about how to teach creatively, this book is for you. Sawyer provides a theoretical rationale and hands-on guide for teachers who wish to introduce more creativity into their classroom. He explains how to develop a curriculum, lesson plans, and instructional strategies that provide students with the freedom they need to construct their knowledge. Also, he discuss about the experience of using creative classrooms in some schools across the US.

Teaching students to be creative is no longer something nice to have in the classroom. It is something needed. 21st-century skills like creativity are the only set of skills that will give students a meaningful competitive advantage in the innovation era.

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