Students as creators or consumers?

I have been reflecting on the “learning from a question week” experiences from last week as my students were clearly engaged with the learning opportunity throughout the week. This reminded me of the importance and value of having students experience themselves as creators, rather than consumers in the learning process at school.

I returned to my copy of “Creating innovators: The making of young people who will change the world” by Tony Wagner, which I have been using as one of many resources to guide my thinking. It brought back to mind the value in providing opportunities for students to pursue personal interests at school in order to develop their passions. Such opportunities are inherently motivational. This is what happened last week. The students were so focused in what they were doing that they often commented at how quickly each class session seemed to speed by. Pursuing personal passions can also help develop student expertise and creative thinking skills, too. This is why I often said to the students that they were going to be our ‘local expert’ in the question they were researching; they needed to share their insights with the rest of us. The challenge was to do this in a manner that could keep the rest of us engaged (thus the need for some extra critical and creative thinking in their blogs).

My big take-away: Last week reminded me once again that the teaching and learning environment can help develop a student’s capacity to innovate, especially when students are afforded opportunities to create rather than simply consume information.

My question: How can I design learning situations that continue to foster a creator orientation to learning rather than a consumer orientation?

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