Most teachers of teenagers will recognise the huge capacity their students have for being creative. From elaborately decorating their notebook to creating and performing their own music, adolescence is the time at which children really start exhibiting their personalities and feelings through creativity. So, how can teachers harness this creativity to enhance their classes?
Research into teen brain development shows us that between 11 and 13 years old, children experience surges in cognition. These surges enable them to begin to understand and use symbols, apply logic and reason and use creativity to solve problems. Though younger children show creativity in play, they do not produce anything truly “new”. Meaningful creativity only really begins in adolescence, when the brain is developed enough to think in a non-linear “divergent” manner.
However, students at this age also face the pressure to fit in and conform with their peers, which can restrict their creativity. It’s up to teachers and parents to help students overcome this social barrier, otherwise the brain’s creative capacity can diminish over time.
Here are a few ideas for fostering creativity in your teenage classroom:
- Encourage reflection after a task is completed. Ask students to consider whether they could have completed the task another way, and to imagine what the outcome would have been.
- Allow students an element of choice wherever possible. If you want them to research and present on a topic, give them a choice of topic so they can pick one that is interesting to them.
- It doesn’t have to be true! Often coursebooks encourage students to talk about their lives; their last holiday, their family tree, their hometown, and after many years of learning English, students can get bored of repeating themselves! So why not get them to invent their answers. Where do they wish they went on their last holiday? Are they “in reality” related to a famous pop star?
For more ideas on fostering creativity in your teen classroom, why not join teacher trainer Jamie Keddie for his online workshop on storytelling with teens. In the webinar, Jamie will show you how to use stories to motivate teenagers and encourage them to share stories of their own.