What are some arguments against finding creativity in all meaning-making literacy practices?

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The current trend for literacy education indicates that literacy meaning involves linguistic elements, cultural schema, and the well-known literacy tenets of establishing connections that include.

  • text to text
  • text to self
  • text to world

This being said creativity, in any of its forms, is essential to any kind of teaching practice, but the manner in which it is applied is what sets the difference between creativity being a constructive, or a nullifying influence in a given lesson. Hence, let's answer your question from the perspective of using creativity erroneously , that is, in a way that by-passes best practices and, ultimately, leads nowhere.

Here, the argument is that a teacher must become an expert in TPAK (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge), as expected by 21st century teaching standards, in order to create meaningful lessons where creativity may be applied freely. A lesson that is not conducted with a developmentally-appropriate academic goal may actually harm the learning process if the creativity does not go hand in hand with the goal of the lesson.

Creativity can be conducive to learning if the purpose of using it is to enrich, expand, and enhance the academic experience. If creativity is used merely for the sake of "coming up with new ideas", then the use of it may null the learning process, if there is a specific skill that needs to be achieved. 

Example:

In a meaning-making lesson, a teacher wants to extrapolate character traits so make a compare/contrast exercise.

The skills to be taught are

  • a) identifying character traits
  • b) making comparisons (inductive thinking)
  • c) identifying contrasts (deductive thinking)
  • d) synthesizing information(summarizing)
  • e) creating text to self connections.

Although a teacher can creatively find ways to convey to the students how to develop these skills through being strong in TPAK, the primary assessments of learning, as Sternberg (1987) would argue must follow a the KUD format

  • Knowing - getting the information from the teacher
  • Understanding- demonstrating conceptualization of the material
  • Doing- applying the information

Clearly, the allotment of creative license to students must come after there is evidence of student understanding. Once this is evident, mostly through pre and post testing, then students can use their inherent talents to apply their newly-acquired knowledge into a myriad of different tasks that enrich their learning experience.

In conclusion, while creativity should never be prevented from manifesting, it is imperative to know when to apply it, and to have a clear academic purpose in mind when using it. Otherwise, an entire lesson may go to waste if a clear path is not followed, and creativity ends up being used just for the sake of entertainment.

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