Did you know the founders of Google both went to a Montessori school growing up? They met in college, but quickly found they had a lot in common with the way they were brought up in terms of their schooling. They state this upbringing helped them both to think outside of the box, become self motivated, and learn that it was ok to break the rules sometimes.
I was thinking about students I’ve had in my classroom and I KNOW those kids!
Here’s the scenario:
You introduce a simple lesson on mask making and the objective is to make a face. Then, a hand shoots up. UH. Even as the art teacher I am thinking, “What now?” from this particular student. They ask “Can mine be a dragon face instead of a human face? If I make a nose, can it be 3D instead of flat?”
One part of me wants to say “No- This is the lesson we are doing, and in a class of 30 I have no way to individually help you with all these wild ideas.”
But… Most of the time, against my better judgement, I’ve let students break the rules or parameters during art lesson in efforts to preserve creativity and individuality. I allow this when a student asks me first, and can show me they have a concrete plan to move forward with. I secretly like it when kids push boundaries with creativity. Alternatively, sometimes I’ve found a student who has come up with their own parameters for the art project in hindsight. I didn’t catch it during the lesson. Sometimes these end up being my favorite pieces and I pick them for the art show.
Am I a walking contradiction?
What about the kids who DO follow the rules? Perhaps these students had innovative ideas but didn’t carry them out because they didn’t want to get into trouble? No fair, huh.
I know I wouldn’t make a good “choice based” art teacher, I’ve always craved the structure that a whole group lesson brings, however, I still value creativity and individuality. That’s why I work hard to design balanced lessons that bring a little bit of everything to the table.
The last thing we would want to do is stifle the creativity of “the next Steve Jobs” right?
How do you handle creative kids who want to change your lessons?
Do you give in, make a compromise, or stick to your guns?
Looking for more ways to ignite creativity in your students and your self?