Creativity in the midst of science

Last Updated 27 January 2016, 18:30 IST

Creativity is commonly taken to mean successful activity intent on producing something new. In other words, creativity is the creation of an idea that is both novel and useful.

Creativity is a highly subjective term. It is a poorly systematised and potentially under researched topic. Implicit theories or thoughts or ideas about understanding the nature of creativity stem from personal experiences and beliefs. This fact especially holds true in areas of science education.

Science teachers and educators often hold implicit definitions of creativity as their beliefs about how to foster and assess creativity within the classroom. There is a widespread perception among people that science is a conceptual domain that is isolated from creativity. The common attitudes toward the success in scientific endeavour revolve around rote-learning, rigid and dogmatic thinking.

Curiosity appears but creativity does not. Through developing inventions, concepts and theories, problem finding and solving, hypothesis formation and modelling, creativity is being explored in the scientific domain. While creativity is regarded as being a fundamental component to consider in both curricula and practice, research indicates that the bulk of science teachers do not specifically implement strategies within their classroom to cultivate the development of student creativity.

The extent to which students receive opportunities for creative thinking in any context is dependent on how the science teacher runs his/her programmes. Further, research supports the notion that scientific creativity manifests itself in experiences that are unique and meaningful to the student and teacher. The creativity of students and teachers is an important factor influencing science education. It is, therefore, necessary that teachers have enough knowledge about creativity in a suitable way.

Science teachers should be creative people themselves in order to be able to implement creative science education in the classroom while using appropriate science content. The possible ways in which a teacher’s creativity can be manifested is in their creative work with educational content of science subjects. This is based on the creative applications of subject knowledge in teaching/learning in their educational practice.

Creative science education has to be understood as an intentional activity and carried out using certain methods effectively. Teachers should know how to improve creativity in science education by supporting divergent thinking in students. They must pay attention to students’ original, innovative and unusual ideas in a way to encourage them to become creative individuals.

Science teachers can get creative in the classroom in a variety of ways. They need  to be open to new ideas, think outside the box, get out of their comfort zone, look for ideas everywhere, find excitement and capitalise on the creative spark. The core principles of inquiry-based science education such as student activities, meaningful content, developing critical thinking and motivating towards science — all correspond to the basic components of creativity.

It is vital to incorporate several activities targeted at fostering creativity within classroom. The foremost thing is that students should know and understand science content knowledge. It is obvious to encourage divergent thinking and imagination skills in the scientific environment of the classroom. Visual-spatial components such as imagery and visualisation should be incorporated into science lessons.

It is essential to nurture aesthetic experiences supporting the concept of ‘wonder’ within classroom. The programmes must facilitate engagement and stimulate motivation amongst students during science learning periods. Open-ended science activities prompt the development of multiple perspectives to approach the subject matter. The culture of scientific inquiry in the classroom should be used as a basis for students’ imagination to think creatively and divergently.

Science teachers need to establish equilibrium in the classroom between subjective and objective, thought and feeling, process and concept, and creativity and knowledge. They have to identify links between science and its relation to prominent early learning themes including curiosity, inquiry and creativity. They must identify the potential for creativity, support emergence of appropriate learning outcomes, attract interest, improve basic skills and eventually promote creativity.

Inquiry-based teaching
Students should be shown how to be creative, to integrate material across subject areas, to question their own assumptions and to imagine other viewpoints and possibilities. Evidence suggests that instruction to support the development of creativity requires inquiry-based teaching that includes explicit strategies to promote cognitive flexibility. Science is now to be presented as knowledge that is built upon evidence as well as arguments deployed in a creative search for meaning and explanation.

Creativity in learning science is to use novel materials to foster curiosity, leverage plan to provide context and meaning to children’s ideas, and promote dialogue between children to share ideas. When students consider various strategies and responses to the task at hand, it leads to creative problem solving and contributes to the establishment of an effective learning environment in the classroom. In turn, children try to share imagination and inspiration to explore scientific creativity.

The aesthetic value of scientific knowledge and scientific inquiry, asking questions, problem solving, designing and conducting investigations, formulating hypotheses are all outlets of scientific creativity. Creativity provides opportunities for students and teachers to be able to transfer their knowledge to predict future events and to think globally. Creativity may help emphasise particular aspects within an inquiry approach.

The creative perspective on science education emphasises on children generating personal meaning and the skills to reason through their thinking. Creativity in science stresses how children produce ideas that are novel to them, and how they learn to evaluate their ideas. Creative science teaching has the potential to inspire deep learning, using inventive activities, and stimulating contexts that can capture the imagination of children.

Creativity in science education plays a vital role in shaping the students of today to be active and creative citizens of tomorrow. Symbiotic connection between creativity and science makes students to exhibit flexibility, fluency, originality, and elaboration. Creative science related activity may lead to a ‘Eureka moment’. While the concept of creativity lacks unequivocal definition, its role in shaping our students to be 21st century learners of science is unquestionable.

(Published 27 January 2016, 17:24 IST)

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