The Importance of Creativity and the Student Centered-Learning Method in Contemporary Education

The student centered-learning method promotes creativity and innovation in education. Creativity and innovation make our world a better and an exciting place, where our children should be taught to be happy and successful human beings. We tend to forget that happiness is a key factor in our life. Only a happy person is capable of achieving great things. Therefore, as teachers we should teach our students how to be happy and independent and we should also support the development of creative thinking because creativity is a skill that can be learnt.

All children are creative and also talented. Creativity is one of the basic characteristics of being human. We have to encourage and cultivate creativity. Nevertheless, we should bear in our mind that creativity can be taught by teaching creatively and by not caring about the rules and old- fashioned educational norms.

Fisher (2006) suggests few ideas how to develop creative thinking in young learners and claims that “children who are encouraged to think creatively show increased levels of motivation and self-esteem.” He suggests including opportunities for creativity in the lessons one teaches: using imagination; generating questions, ideas and outcomes; experimenting with alternatives; being original; expanding on what they know or say; exercising their judgment.

“Lack of teacher training in creativity has also been identified in the research as a reason why more teachers do not employ creative activities in the classroom (Fleith 2000; Kim 2008). Authors stress the need for more creativity training in teacher preparation programs, which serves as a likely starting point for creative teaching.” (Rinkevich, 2011, p. 220).

The student’s creativity depends on how creative the teacher is. Therefore, a teacher must have a creative personality which is well – defined by the famous writer Csikszentmihalyi (1996). Csikszentmihalyi (1996)  characterizes the creative personality as follows:

1.Creative individuals have a great deal of energy, but they are also often quiet and at rest.
2.Creative individuals tend to be smart, yet also naive at the same time.
3.Creative individuals have a combination of playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility.
4. Creative individuals alternate between imagination and fantasy ant one end, and rooted sense of reality at the other.
5. Creative people seem to harbor opposite tendencies on the continuum between extroversion and introversion.
6. Creative individuals are also remarkable humble and proud at the same time.
7. Creative individuals to a certain extent escape rigid gender role stereotyping and have a tendency toward androgyny.
8. Generally, creative people are thought to be rebellious and independent.
9. Most creative persons are very passionate about their work, yet they can be extremely objective about it as well.
10. The openness and sensitivity of creative individuals often exposes them to suffering
pain yet also a great deal of enjoyment.

A teacher has to be the perfect role model, this means teachers have to show their students how to be creative rather than tell them, because actions talk louder than words.

Our mission is not just transmitting mere knowledge. We have to teach our pupils how to become an active and useful member of the modern society in which creativity and innovation is in high demand. We should also emphasize team work in the teaching and learning process.

Creativity is a step towards innovation, Innovation cannot exist without creative thinking as Amabile the brilliant writer explains that all innovation begins with creative ideas. He further affirms that “the successful implementation of creative ideas within an organization. In this view, creativity by individuals and teams is a starting point for innovation; the first is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the second” (Amabile, 1996)

In the contemporary society, a person needs to be a competent communicator this is one the reasons why we have to promote learner-centered education, because learner- centered education supports creativity. Furthermore, creativity is the key objective of the learner –centered education.

As teachers, we have to use modern teaching methods in order to keep up with our ever changing world. Fortunately, less and l the teachers in Romania favours traditional teaching method, which is characterized by knowledge transmission, individual work on assignments, and discouragement of cooperation.

Learner-centered teaching methods shift the focus of activity from the teacher to the learners. These methods include active learning, in which students solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm during class; cooperative learning, in which students work in teams on problems and projects under conditions that assure both positive interdependence and individual accountability; and inductive teaching and learning, in which students are first presented with challenges (questions or problems) and learn the course material in the context of addressing the challenges. Inductive methods include inquiry-based learning, case-based instruction, problem-based learning, project-based learning, discovery learning, and just-in-time teaching. Learner-centered methods have repeatedly been shown to be superior to the traditional teacher-centered approach, but let’s compare the two types of education in order to have a clear view.

Teacher-centered education:

In teacher-centered education, students put all of their focus on the teacher. The teacher talks all the time and the students exclusively listen. During activities, students work alone, and collaboration is discouraged.

The advantages of the teacher- centered education are:

  • The classroom remains orderly. Students are quiet, and you retain full control of the classroom and its activities.
  • The students learn on their own, they learn independence and make their own decisions.
  • The teacher directs all classroom activities so the teacher does not have to worry that students will miss an important topic.

The disadvantages of the teacher-centered education are:

  •  Students work alone, they don’t learn to collaborate with other students, and their communication skills may suffer.
  • Teacher-centered instruction can be boring for students. Their minds may wander, and they may miss important facts.
  • Teacher-centered instruction doesn’t allow students to express themselves, ask questions, and direct their own learning.

Student-centered education:

Student centered- education promotes creativity and critical thinking. Instead of listening to the teacher exclusively, students and teachers interact equally. Group work is encouraged, and students learn to collaborate and communicate with one another.

The advantages of the student- centered education are:

  • Students learn important communicative and collaborative skills through group work.
  • Students learn to direct their own learning, ask questions, and complete tasks independently.
  • Students are more interested in learning activities when they can interact with one another and participate actively.

The disadvantages of the student-centered learning method are:

  • Classrooms may often be noisy or chaotic because students are talking..
  • Teachers may have to attempt to manage all students’ activities at once, which can be difficult when students are working on different stages of the same project.
  • The teacher doesn’t always give instruction to all students at once, some students may be cluless.
  • Some students prefer to work alone, so group work can become problematic.

In conclusion, a learner-centered environment facilitates a more collaborative way for students to learn and also creativity. The teacher acts as a facilitator, providing feedback and answering questions when needed. It’s the student that chooses how they want to learn, why they want to learn that way and with who. Students answer each others’ questions and give each other feedback, using the instructor as a resource when needed.  As teachers we should bear in our mind that practice is more important than input, rather watch the students at work and learn to notice what is difficult, what is easy, what seems to engage, what seems boring. Study your student, don’t teach and teach and let your students to enjoy the learning process.

Bibliography:
1. Amabile, R. C. ; H. Coon; J. Lazenby & M. Herron (1996).Assessing the Work Environment for Creativity. The Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 39, No. 5, pp. 1154-1184.Bailin, S.(1987).
2. CSIKSZENTMIHALYI, M., 1996. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. Michigan University: HarperCollinsPublishers, ISBN 9780060171339.
3. FISHER, R., 2006. Expanding Minds: Developing Creative Thinking in Young Learners. In: The IATEFL Young Learners SIG journal, Spring 2006 pp. 5 –9.

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