by Jonathan Bergman & Catherine Simon
A student sits down at her desk with a stack of notecards for a biology quiz tomorrow. She has memorized most of the cards, but come next Friday, the content will be forgotten. That’s because, yet again, the student has been asked to regurgitate information instead of thinking critically.
Students at WHS know this situation all too well. With this in mind, Hi´s Eye investigated the prevalence (or absence of) of creativity in the curricula at WHS.
What is a Creative Curriculum?
WHS teachers and students have different definitions of a creative curriculum, yet all agree on this: A creative curriculum sparks student interest and encourages them to think.
Social Studies Teacher Ms. Jacqueline Spring said, “When learning opportunities and assignments target real-life questions or issues, there is greater opportunity for students to think outside of the box.”’
In a popular TED Talk titled “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” educator Sir Ken Robinson said that the American education system teaches in a way that decreases students’ ability to be creative. Robinson said that children have creative capacities, but the educational system causes them to lose those capacities by adulthood.
Specifically, standardized testing contributes to a breakdown in creativity. Science Teacher Ms. Judith McLoughlin said that as students devote more time to standardized tests such as PARCC and AP exams, creativity suffers.
PARCC tests reading and math skill competency, replacing the HSPA exams. One of the key criticisms of PARCC and other standardized tests is that they take away class time that could be dedicated to creative learning. Although standardized tests may show a student can read or do math, they are unable to measure a student’s creative ability.
How is (or isn’t) our Curriculum Creative?
With the pressure on teachers to teach to tests and assign clear grades, creative assignments often take a backseat in many courses.
English Teacher Mr. Anthony D’Errico said that the English Department tries to include creativity by offering choices in assignments and gearing the curriculum toward student interest. He likes to incorporate art and history to make his curriculum creative. When his class read Lord of the Flies, students created symbolism posters that included quotes from the book and visual components.
However, other teachers feel that the college pressure is too great to consistently incorporate creativity. According to Psychology Teacher Mr. Robert Ebert,“It’s a lot easier to demonstrate to colleges that you got a 4 or a 5 on an AP test and you have As in all these classes, rather than demonstrate things that you’ve done.”
Senior Emily Mordkovich agreed, saying, “To an extent, I like to be creative but getting a good grade is at the top of my priorities.”
Despite the challenges, experts believe that when students are given the opportunity to solve problems, that is more rewarding to them than being told the answer.
Junior Evan Gibbs said that creative curricula are beneficial because they “expand horizons for after high school” and teach different skills.
While teachers and students generally agree that creative curricula are engaging and beneficial, not all agree that a creative curricula exists at WHS. What do you think? Feel free to write a letter to the editor with your take on the issue.