Your results decide your personality.
My journey as an “average” student.
From the last few weeks, my focus has made a shift from Business Innovation to Education. Now, this does not mean that there was a change of heart or the topic became boring. But, there are way too many opportunities for problem-solving out there and as a designer, I would like to take some of these opportunities as “no problem is a small problem”. I got a chance to work with the Design Club as a part of my major project and I grabbed it.
Through this post, I would like to talk about my journey with education and why I chose this field as a part of my Major project.
Are you a person who can’t seem to understand math formulas ? or balance chemical equations? or rather quantum physics gives you the chills?
But, great at chemical experiments in the laboratory, love biology and can connect to history through movies. If yes, then you have landed on the right post. Because this post talks about the need for creative learning in education.
A little bit about my journey.
I have always been an average student in academics with excellent creative skills since childhood. The education structure in Indian schools was so academic-focused and theory-driven that with time it almost killed my dream of becoming an artist someday (thanks to my parents who always encouraged me to ruin our house walls and keep painting). Soon after school when all my friends decided to take on the journey of becoming an engineer or a chartered accountant, I left the herd and chose design over mathematics, not because I found it easy but because somewhere deep down, I knew it will be valued someday.
Understanding the topic a little better
As I mentioned, this topic comes from a personal experience. I started my process by penning down some basic questions and what was my understanding about it followed by what was the world’s understanding of the same. This helped me validate my own thoughts and break my bubble. I wanted to see if my story was even relevant? Is my frustration with mathematics a common thing? Is creativity a thing or just a myth?
Let’s have a look at my findings.
What is teaching?
I googled this and I found 2 definitions from the dictionary:
- The occupation, profession, or work of a teacher
2. Ideas or principles taught by an authority.
In the literal sense, yes, teaching is a profession because we have teachers in schools. But for me, teaching is also about engagement and inspiration. Effective teaching focuses on the WHY and HOW and not on WHAT because that information can also be googled (which I just did)teaching is a form of sharing knowledge and you definitely do not need authority to do that. It comes in all forms from a poster in the bathroom saying wash your hands for at least 30 seconds, to parents teaching you to boil an egg. None of this involves a process, or an authority to drive it.
So why is teaching in schools so structured? Why does it have to be in a certain way and why is it the same for all when we are all differently built with different abilities?
What is learning?
Learning is often described as a lesson. You learn through experience, observation, teaching, books, movies, family, failure, appreciation, talking, playing, expressing, listening and the list goes on. Learning also comes naturally, it’s an ability you are born with, you learn to crawl, sit, stand, walk, etc. Sometimes it happens naturally or sometimes a situation makes you learn something new. But the thing is you are ALWAYS learning it never stops. So, if there are a thousand ways to learn something then why in schools all we have is a stack of books, benches facing the educator and bells denoting its time to eat/pee/go home. Also learning is not memorizing because that would just mean that you know the WHAT and not the WHY and HOW so in the end if the purpose of that information is not understood the data will either be forgotten or not be considered relevant in the future.
Are learning and schooling the same thing?
According to me — NO. The lessons that are required in life such as boiling eggs, saving money, talking to relatives, fixing a light bulb are either learned by experience, or through parents, or through youtube. None of this is taught in school. Here is the gap if what is required is not taught in schools then how are we preparing kids for the life beyond schools? By this, I don’t mean that algebra is not important or does not hold any value, but so are other life skills and they should also be considered.
What is creativity?
According to many researchers, it is a form of knowledge creation and of the construction of personal meaning: it is, therefore, an essential skill for enhancing the learning process. (2021)
Many people associate creativity primarily with the arts, Music, drama, art, dance, literature, and the rest, which are often called ‘the creative arts’ and the associated fields are known as “creative industries”. The ‘creative arts’ are often contrasted with the sciences, which tend to be thought of as uncreative.
But for me, it is an outcome of imaginative activity. It involves the process of thinking and behaving, generating ideas, alternative solutions, defining identity, and collaborative activities. Creativity is in-built in every human and it is up to us how we recognize and utilize it. Unfortunately most of the time this gets lost in the curriculum and grading system and is not given equal weightage as the other subjects.
Creativity is not unique to the arts. It is equally fundamental to advances in the sciences, in mathematics, technology, in politics, business and in all areas of everyday life. (2021)
Creativity is possible in all areas of human activity, including the arts, sciences, at work, at play and in all other areas of daily life. All people have creative abilities and we all have them differently. When individuals find their creative strengths, it can have an enormous impact on self-esteem and on overall achievement. (2021)
Why did I think I was creative?
My report cards mentioned the words — AVERAGE STUDENT it was a tag for me and that’s how I have been addressing myself throughout. I was an average student in school because I got certain marks on the academic test. But, I never gave up, I always tried to understand the books to memorize formulas but could just never retain them. Now, that was weird because I just read it 2 mins before the test started. So I started to consider myself as a “non-smart” one. the classroom for me was soon divided into “smart people” and “non-smart”. Due to this, I was considered an “introvert”. Now, this was new to me because I talked a lot at home but in school, I just couldn’t because I was “non-smart”. All these terms denoted my personality and my characteristics but as a matter of fact, it was not true. Unknowingly it affected my confidence and self-esteem and made me a confused soul. But I had my set of magic beans, I was good with visuals, so whenever I got an option, I always choose art over any academic subject. I drew diagrams for my friends and that’s how I was known as a “Dixita, you are so creative” and a confused soul like me said yeah I am. I am “not smart” but I am “creative”. I finally found my direction. It happened through experience or by luck but It made me feel better. I finally felt valued and I pursued my career as a designer the day I left school. It was literally like running away from mathematics for me.
Looking back, I feel if I was creative why couldn’t I solve all those math problems? People just said maybe you are not good at it but I always felt that I never understood it. My brain could just not accept what has been told without giving it the liberty to understand why it is in a certain way.
Why did my friends think there were not creative?
This was interesting, slowly the classroom was divided into sections of people. We had the “smart ones” (great in academics), “creative ones” (good at drawing), “sporty ones” (good at physical education) but no combinations existed. And the “smart ones” were valued the most like the rest of the talent was considered as an extracurricular activity and not something that could go onto the CV which will get us the dream job. So that’s how roles were created and this was since school. However, I felt everyone was creative. Solving algebra was also a form of art to me. So why the divide? And why was creativity given a separate treatment when we know that it is the core skill that is required for any problem or perform an activity.
Science, mathematics, technology, humanities, engineering — name any form of human intellectual activity or any activity that engages our intelligence, and it’s a scene of potential creative achievement. — Sir Ken Robinson
Bottom line -
Creativity is nice to have, But algebra is must have. — Schanzer, 2021
It’s time to change this, creative algebra should be the “new normal”
My school journey was quite adventurous. Somehow I was able to discover my talent and I rebuilt my confidence through my design journey. I would now like to shorten this journey for young children.
Through my major project, I would like to take education as my focus area and explore the realms of creative learning and how it can boost confidence in young children. I believe that creativity is inbuilt in everyone and the challenge lies in how we keep it alive and utilize it in our favor and the people around us. The first step to this is finding your inner creativity and as kids when they are taught a number of subjects, this could also be taught followed by embracing it. It needs to be given equal value and priority and not treated as a separate subject.
Schanzer, E., 2021. Why is algebra so hard? The answer is surprisingly simple. [online] Ted.com. Available at: <https://www.ted.com/talks/emmanuel_schanzer_why_is_algebra_so_hard_the_answer_is_surprisingly_simple> [Accessed 16 June 2021].
Interview, T., 2021. Sir Ken Robinson (still) wants an education revolution. [online] Ted.com. Available at: <https://www.ted.com/talks/the_ted_interview_sir_ken_robinson_still_wants_an_education_revolution> [Accessed 11 June 2021].
Sirkenrobinson.com. 2021. [online] Available at: <http://sirkenrobinson.com/pdf/allourfutures.pdf> [Accessed 11 June 2021].