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In the Media: Can schools teach students to innovate?

Education Week
Keith Sawyer feature image

Education Week relies extensively on the perspectives of faculty member Keith Sawyer as it examines whether educators can teach creativity.

Sawyer, the Morgan Distinguished Professor of Educational Innovations, has researched and written extensively about creativity and how it can be taught. He recently published the book “The Creative Classroom.”

The Education Week article takes a look at research that demonstrates that more companies and organizations jobs are seeking employees who have demonstrated ability to develop creative solutions to problems.

But, can creativity be taught?

You’re absolutely not born being more or less creative. It’s ways of acting and thinking that anyone can learn.
Keith Sawyer

The article cites Sawyer’s research in which he has found that educators can teach students how to be creative and to innovate. But, as Sawyer describes in his latest book, the teaching of creativity should not be limited to arts courses or extracurricular programs, but should be infused in all subject-matter courses.

“If you’re learning knowledge in every subject in a way that results in this shallow, superficial understanding, you just can’t be creative with the knowledge,” Sawyer told Education Week. “If we want students to be creative, we really have to change the way we teach every subject — and it’s a much more difficult transformation than adding in arts classes.”

The article describes Sawyer’s concept of “guided improvisation” in which educators provide a grounding in core concepts for students but allow them more freedom to explore how those concepts are applied. Using “guided improvisation” techniques have been shown to help students better remember content-area knowledge, Sawyer says.

Sawyer’s bottom line as stated in the article:

“You’re absolutely not born being more or less creative. It’s ways of acting and thinking that anyone can learn,” he said. “I think that’s an empowering message, especially for those people who have always thought, ‘I’m not a creative person.’ ”