The educational value of creative disobedience
The following are excerpts from the article (title above). Have a read and then follow the link to read the article in its entirety. It links very effectively to the Quadrant theory in a previous blog entry.
A question to ask myself as an educator?
- How effectively do I balance direct instruction with opportunities for curiosity and creativity?
Anyway … let’s get to the point and read the excerpts!
For many years I struggled with wanting to please my teachers—listening to directions and following the rules—but feeling creatively unfulfilled and unchallenged. At times I had an instinct to speak up and offer an alternate explanation, or an urge to try something a different way, but I quickly learned that only ‘undisciplined and obnoxious children’ challenged authority and caused disruption. These were not the kinds of students that teachers favored. I learned to ignore the pangs of my creative spirit, which only seemed to bring me misery when answered. As much as I loved learning, school was uninspiring and left me hollow. I saw school as a necessary time commitment, but not much else. I ended up doing most of my learning and exploration on my own with whatever tools I had at my disposal—books, observation, watching people, and of course—my imagination.
Let’s take a look at our typical education paradigm: From the earliest days of school, we hammer specific scholastic values into our students: pay attention, watch the teacher, imitate what the teacher does, stay in your seat, don’t question authority, and receive praise. But instead of teaching children to think, we are teaching them to memorize. Instead of encouraging them to innovate, we expect them to follow the outline and adhere to rules.
There are two very interesting studies recently emerging from the field of developmental psychology that address the issue of early childhood education and teaching methodology. The first one, by Elizabeth Bonawitz and colleagues, has to do with direct instruction and the limits it puts on exploratory behavior. The second , by Daphna Buchsbaum and her team, looks at imitation of action sequences—what situations and specific criteria make a child likely to imitate an act, or to perceive it as a “correct” answer.
“Perhaps direct instruction can help children learn specific facts and skills, but what about curiosity and creativity—abilities that are even more important for learning in the long run? Two forthcoming studies in the journal Cognition— one from a lab at MIT and one from my lab at UC-Berkeley —suggest that the doubters are on to something. While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution.”