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Creativity & Innovation

posted Jun 22, 2010, 3:37 PM by Alan Hall   [ updated Jun 22, 2010, 6:18 PM ]
Given everything I already have to pack into the curriculum, how can I address the 21st Century goals of innovation and creativity?
Kenneth Robinson laments that education has become too linear and industrialized, aiming as it does toward getting students into college at all costs.  This view suggests that our highly touted Advanced Placement program at Yarmouth is as much a liability as a cause for celebration. I cannot imagine how to square the circle of this dilemma in order to transform an AP history class into an innovative and creative individual learning experience for every student.  With its college level final assessment looming over each student throughout the year, there is no way to pretend that it is not linear in nature.

I have greater hope that my Human Behavior students (studying sociology and psychology) can benefit from a more organic approach to the curriculum. Several years ago I consciously decided NOT to offer an AP version of psychology because it would force me to eliminate the most creative and individualized aspects of the course. While I believe that every student needs to acquire a common core of knowledge about the social science concepts in the class,  I have always found that the course works best when I encourage students find new ways to approach some of my classic assignments.  I have also discovered that laptops have created a whole new set of options for my teaching and the students' learning.  For example, last September, Alice Barr introduced GoogleDocs to all of my Human Behavior students so that their research teams could collect data using a common database for each student to access at any time.  In addition, digital technology allows my students to learn the latest developments in psychology such as concepts in neuroscience that are not in their textbooks.  My students have also discovered many wonderful websites  which help them learn key psychological concepts in creative and interactive ways. I plan to incorporate these websites into a Human Behavior wiki next year. 

The "digital generation" video reinforces these tentative steps that I have taken in my Human Behavior class.  I believe that my students will continue to discover creative ways to use technology to help me teach the key ideas of the course.  I have to be willing to work as a partner with them to use whatever techniques are most effective.