Reading 2 Assignment

Creativity and imagination: tools for teaching artistic inquiry

By Karen Heid

Reflection by Amy Gartley

“The use of synectics and surrealism may assist children in generating symbols and metaphor in order to promote creative and imaginative ideas for art making.” Karen Heid This article has opened an entirely new perspective on my teaching and has caused me to once again, think about thinking. (This is what I have been introduced to since joining arts educator.) I’ll admit that I find this challenging. Perhaps this is why I procrastinated on this assignment. After all, as educators we know that when students fail to do the work that is expected of them, there is usually one of the following problems. Some may say they’re lazy. I usually assume that they honestly just don’t get it. Their mind is at a stand still because they’ve never been asked to think in such a way. This ties in with the article I chose to read and reflect upon. As an educator of the arts, am I just teaching art terms, or am I making true artists out of my students? In college we learn how to teach the doing, but do we learn how to teaching the thought process of what we’re doing?

This leads me to more questions. Is your imagination something you’re naturally born with? Do you develop a creative imagination as a result of the environment you grow up in? Is it up to us art educators to teach imaginative thinking to those who just look at you like you’re nutso when you say “okay Suzy, I want you to draw a world that has yet to be discovered by any human being.””Ready, go!”It comes as a surprise to me that I get this blank stare more often than not from my students. Obviously imagination is not something that always comes naturally to everybody. How does one teach something to someone else when it’s something that comes so easily for them? I’m often stuck thinking about this.

I don’t want my students artwork to be cookie cutter. I went to an elementary school where I didn’t have an art teacher, so this is often what the artwork in the hallways looked like. If you went though the same situation, I’m sure you can relate to the fact that your cut and paste penguin stuck out like a Picasso amongst black and white composite sketches. “Torrence and Safter (1999) described four levels of creative thinking skills: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.” In the article, these four levels are broken down. Creativity does have to be taught, otherwise people will end up like the artwork in my little mountain school. Black and white.

So let’s talk about these 4 levels. The first one was fluency. First off, I think it’s important in an art classroom to create an environment where students can ultimately just be themselves. This idea sometimes gets negative results. Example, an art room can easily become gossip, I do nothing, time. This is bad. There needs to be creative freedom in our classrooms. How do we do this? Maybe start class with a creative thinking exercise. Yes you may get some totally off the wall results, but NEW ideas are what artists are made of. The problem lies when students don’t know how to brainstorm. This is what we need to promote. The first step to becoming a creative thinker is to be able to be fluent with your thinking. Side note. ( I may be a bit too fluent.)

Level number dos. Flexibility. Don’t just think of one idea, think of many! Possibilities are endless when you’re using your imagination. Don’t limit your thinking.

Number 3. Originality. I stress originality a lot if my classroom. If it’s not someone trying to incorporate sponge bob into their art work, it’s someone trying to do the exact same thing as the student next to them. Encourage students once again to be flexible and to think of many ideas, so that amongst them all, they can choose at least one solution.

Lastly, elaboration. Ask your students questions about what it is that they’re thinking about. In other words, dig even deeper into that imagination of theirs.

This particular article gives the example of using surrealism to feed and jump-start imaginative thinking. It also talked about the use of metaphors. I know that I encourage creative thinking in my classroom, but hopefully now with the 4 levels in mind, I’ll at least know where to begin when I get those blank stares.