MECS Blog

Developing Creativity

Developing Creativity

Thursday, 17 May 2018  | Wendy - Kindergarten Director

Christ centred and child oriented Transformational Education

There is a poem called ‘The Little Boy’ by Helen E Buckley that has been around for a very long time. I remember reading it when I first became a teacher in the ‘80s! I saw it recently, and it reminded me of all the reasons why we take a child-oriented and Christ-centred approach to teaching and learning at MECS. The poem is quite sad - at a deeper level it talks about how school systems can easily squash creativity in individual children. Creativity is a special quality with which we are all born, and have the potential to develop.  Our God is a creative God, who has given each of us special qualities and abilities to discover, develop and uncover in ourselves and in others. Made in the image of God, we are naturally creative. In Christian education we look at children as image bearers, and this influences how we teach.

When children first start school it is a big step. Our educators know how to set up appropriate experiences and do the ‘dance’, which is to facilitate, educate and teach through children’s natural curiosity to investigate the world around them. We call this ‘play’. Play is a creative way for children to test their own theories and hypothesis, which is serious work. We do not see children as empty vessels, waiting for us to pour our knowledge into them! Our image of the child, how we see them and how we think about their capabilities also influences how we teach. I call it a ‘dance’ because you will see educators move in and out of children’s play, sometimes sitting back and observing the play, then coming back in to shape or suggest, or even lend a child a skill that may be needed, always aiming to support children’s learning, being careful not to destroy the ‘moment’. Learning is most relevant in these moments. As adults we so easily make comments such as ‘what colour are you using?’ or ‘What are you making?’ It may not be anything! The child may be practising a skill such as taking tape from a dispenser, or experimenting with surface tension as they make boats to float in water. I wonder if adults typically default to closed questions so we can ‘test’ a child’s knowledge on colour, or make sure they are ‘on task’ with their creations? Rather, it is our practice at MECS to make comments that support learning, such as, ‘Wow, look at all that red paint!’ or ‘Tell me about your work?’ We notice where the Biblical story unfolds in the midst of our discussions, our wonderings and our learning. We carefully select materials that will support discussions and promote thinking about our creator God. In this way learning is also oriented for children. Each child brings their gifts, ideas, skills and insights to share. All have important things to say, think and create.

What qualities and abilities do you see in those around us? Have you told them what you see in them? Just because we see these gifts in others doesn’t mean they don’t need affirmation. We strive to notice children’s abilities, acknowledging that we all have different abilities, and that we can work toward using them to work in harmony with others abilities. When children are empowered in this way we write a different ending to this poem! There is never a single right answer where creativity is concerned, rather there are many possibilities from which we must choose.

The Little Boy

by Helen E. Buckley

Once a little boy went to school.
He was quite a little boy and it was quite a big school.
But when the little boy found that he could go to his room
By walking right in from the door outside he was happy;
And the school did not seem quite so big anymore.
One morning when the little boy had been in school awhile,
The teacher said: “Today we are going to make a picture.”
“Good!” thought the little boy. He liked to make all kinds;
Lions and tigers, chickens and cows, trains and boats;
And he took out his box of crayons and began to draw.
But the teacher said,  “Wait!”, It is not time to begin!”
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
“Now,” said the teacher, “We are going to make flowers.”
“Good!” thought the little boy,
He started to make beautiful ones
With his pink and orange and blue crayons.
But the teacher said “Wait!”
“And I will show you how.”
She drew a flower on the blackboard.
It was red, with a green stem.
“There,” said the teacher, “Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at his teacher’s flower
Then he looked at his own flower.
He liked his flower better than the teacher’s
But he did not say this. He just turned his paper over,
And made a flower like the teacher’s.
It was red, with a green stem.

On another day when the little boy had opened  the door from the outside all by himself,
The teacher said:
“Today we are going to make something with clay.”
“Good!” thought the little boy; He liked clay.
He could make all kinds of things with clay:

Snakes and snowmen, elephants and mice,
Cars and trucks
And he began to pull and pinch his ball of clay.
But the teacher said, “Wait!”, It is not time to begin!”
And she waited until everyone looked ready.
“Now,” said the teacher, “We are going to make a dish.”
“Good!” thought the little boy, he liked to make dishes.
And he began to make some.
They were all shapes and sizes.
But the teacher said “Wait! And I will show you how.”
And she showed everyone how to make
One deep dish.
“There,” said the teacher, “Now you may begin.”
The little boy looked at the teacher’s dish;
Then he looked at his own.
He liked his better than the teacher’s
But he did not say this.
He just rolled his clay into a big ball again
And made a dish like the teacher’s.
It was a deep dish.
And pretty soon
He didn’t make things of his own anymore.
Then it happened that the little boy and his family
Moved to another house, in another city,
And the little boy had to go to another school.
This school was even bigger than the other one.
And there was no door from the outside
Into his room.
He had to go up some big steps
And walk down a long hall to get to his room.
And the very first day he was there,
The teacher said:
“Today we are going to make a picture.”
“Good!” thought the little boy.
And he waited for the teacher to tell what to do.
But the teacher didn’t say anything.
She just walked around the room.
When she came to the little boy, she asked,
“Don’t you want to make a picture?”
“Yes,” said the little boy.
“What are we going to make?”
“I don’t know until you make it,” said the teacher.
“How shall I make it?” asked the little boy.
“Why, anyway you like,” said the teacher.
“And any colour?” asked the little boy.
“Any colour,” said the teacher.
“If everyone made the same picture,
And used the same colours,
How would I know who made what,
And which was which?”
“I don’t know,” said the little boy.
And he began to make flower.
It was red, with a green stem.


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