Creativity, Choice, Cooperation
I am sure my cute little moniker is stolen from somebody, but until I specifically hear so I am calling it my own. It has a nice ring to it and simply sums up a few essential parts of learning. When designing lessons, units, projects, classes, or even schools are we actively putting choice, creativity, and cooperation in the forefront? These three C's should be embedded into not only the academic nature of schooling, but also the social design of schools and lessons. In my opinion, all three are necessary to have one. For example, it is very hard to push creativity on anyone if they have no say in the matter. Furthermore, if students or people are able to work together in an organic and natural process, the sum of their knowledge often overpowers the singular parts, allowing for massive creativity. Also, an emphasis on creativity, choice, and cooperation lessens teacher proclivity to rant and lecture without allowing for active participation. So what do they 3 C's look like in a classroom or school?
Are new and alternative ideas welcomed? Is the environment at school or in the classroom conducive to discovery? Do bland worksheets and textbooks drive instruction? Can students use the arts to express content across curriculum? Is technology used for the unique constructions of ideas? Do rubrics or assignment structures limit products? Do grading procedures make students abandon creativity in order to play if safe? Do projects create an avenue for innovative thought or are they canned ways to fill time?
Are students empowered by decisions on projects, lessons, or assessments? Do they feel like they have the ability to guide their own learning? Do students have relationships with staff and faculty to make suggestions? Can they pick presentations tools? Do they make choices based on extrinsic factors or because of intense intrinsic interest? Is there flexibility within assignments to allow students ability to do things that make them personally comfortable? Is homework student or teacher driven? Do they want to be there?
Is your class and school culture one of cooperation or competition? Do students see their peers as valuable learning partners or people they have to one up? How often to students teach each other? How do group discussions, projects, and lessons build cooperation? Is working together an everyday occurrence in your room? Do students feel like they can communicate with each other and ask for help? What is the line between cheating and cooperation? Are individual talents used within groups to produce a sum of talents and skill? Are ideas invented, refined, and reinvented with each others help?