Creativity vs. creating

A really big craneThere is a vast difference between being creative and creating something.

  • You can write a creative report about bridge building, or design a bridge that holds weight.
  • You can make a creative video about careers in programming, or write a computer program.
  • You can build a creative website with links to sites about solar heating, or construct a working model of a solar panel.
  • You can blog creatively about saving the environment, or you can start a movement to do it.

Building a real bridge or writing a computer program or constructing a solar panel or committing time to a cause is constructing something real. It is a different educational experience than reporting about something. Both are valuable learning experiences. Both should be present in a well-rounded education.

However, when we talk about Web 2.0, the focus is often on information gathering, sharing and presenting. This short-sighted focus on information and reporting misses the most crucial part of learning — constructing. It is an incomplete picture of what we want students to learn and be able to do.

Life is not a report.


3 Replies to “Creativity vs. creating”

  1. An important difference, indeed. It’s interesting that schools tend to treat subjects that have always focused on hands-on, concrete creation – such as woodworking, metal shop, electronics, cooking, even arts to some extent – as the poor step-sister/brother to the abstract, academic courses. You won’t even find most of these courses offered in most independent schools because there’s no time (i.e. value) to teach them. Apart from the fact that building a table or soldering a circuit board or writing a computer program can be a powerful learning experience, these acts of creation also carry with them a great deal of satisfaction in that they produce tangible results.

    Of course, in the case of using some of the 2.0 tools, the line between creating and reporting can sometimes be blurred. A teacher at my school recently had his class use stop-motion animation to illustrate cell division, and he got some really creative responses. While the students have not “created” in terms of the science, they have learned the tools and processes to produce a video, some of which were very clever. An example:

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