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How Teaching Creatively Impacts a Child’s Brain

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Child Development, Featured, Middle School, Rippowam Cisqua School, Teaching Insights

How Teaching Creatively Impacts a Child’s Brain

Dr. Iman Rasti holds many roles at Rippowam Cisqua School. In addition to being a classroom teacher, he’s the Co-Director of our Wellness Initiative and member of the School’s Creativity Cohort. Dr. Rasti not only shares his expertise with his school colleagues but also with the wider educational community. He recently wrote an article for The Creativity Post entitled, How Creative Teaching Improves Students’ Executive Function Skills. The premise of this article is that teaching creatively develops a student’s creative thinking skills and improves executive function in all ages. Leveraging his insights, educators can help students develop their organizational, time management, planning, and memory skills for optimum success.

Understanding How the Brain Works

Dr. Rasti’s deep exploration of the brain and how it processes information for higher-order thinking invites educators to redesign their teaching practices to produce creative learners with consideration of executive functions. His analysis elicits three important questions for educators:

  1. How can we engage students for an extended amount of time when teaching a lesson?
  2. How can we enable young minds to be alert, receptive and ready to learn?
  3. How can we infuse personal relevancy into each lesson to spark engagement and reflection?

As a student of the Torrance Incubation Model, Dr. Rasti highlights this major point:

“Before creative thinking can occur, something has to be done to heighten anticipation and expectation and to prepare learners to see clear connections between what they are expected to learn and their future life (the next minute or hour, the next day, the next year, or 25 years from now). After this arousal, it is necessary to help students dig into the problem, acquire more information, encounter the unexpected, and continue deepening expectations. Finally, there must be practice in doing something with the new information, immediately or later” (Torrance and Sisk, 1997, p. 91, cited in Hébert et al. 2002, p. 25).

This, in turn, challenges educators to explore another point of view when it comes to creativity and executive function. It starts with throwing out old notions. Instead of thinking that children who express challenges with executive function have negative qualities or behavioral issues, view them instead as creative strengths.

You can see an example of how Dr. Rasti integrates high-level creative thinking in Rippowam Cisqua School’s middle school Humanities curriculum to enhance engagement using the trial of abolitionist Jim Brown during the Civil War. Read the full article in The Creativity Post for an overview of this project and an in-depth view of how creativity fuels the brain.

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