Monday, February 17, 2014

The Struggle For Creativity

I really frustrated my Creative Writing students today!  When I planned this new assignment, I didn't expect that they would find it so difficult, but I have to admit that I enjoyed watching their struggle!  Before you think that I am some kind of sinister teacher who enjoys tormenting her students, let me explain - I know a few things about struggle!

Struggle produces strength!  I wrote a story in one of my "Cup of Encouragement" books about watching our chicks hatch.  The chicks go through quite a bit of struggle in order to break out of their shell.  We learned the hard way just how important that struggle is!  Every chick we helped out of its shell did not survive!  The struggle helps them build the strength they need to live!  We, too, need struggle in our lives to help us build the strength to survive.  My students need to struggle with difficult assignments to help them to break out of their comfort zones and become better writers!

Struggle produces confidence!  When someone stays in comfortable conditions with no difficulties or challenges, how do they know what they can handle?  We all need to be challenged so that we can learn how to meet and overcome the challenges.  Even failures can help us to develop confidence when we learn that we can overcome and survive those failures.  I strive to give my own children some room to learn how to solve problems and make decisions so that they can have the confidence that they are capable.  In the classroom, I want my students to get that same benefit!  There is nothing better than watching a kid figure out they can do something that they thought they couldn't!

Struggle produces creativity!  As a college student studying to be an art teacher, I was completely against coloring books.  I felt that they inhibited creativity.  I have relaxed a little in my old age, but it still think a blank page and some crayons are so much better!  Why? - Because filling in someone else's lines doesn't require as much.  I may need to choose colors, but most of the thinking is done for me.  Creating from very little is much more - well - creative!  By very definition, creating is making something from nothing.  When we must work within boundaries, with limits, or with very little, we will have to work harder, think deeper, and use more imagination!  It is a struggle, and out of struggles like that have come some of the greatest inventions and creations!

Yes, I did enjoy watching my students struggle.  I took great pleasure in denying their requests to make the assignment easier or to make exceptions.  I enjoyed it because I know that, if they choose to embrace the struggle, the results will be amazing!  They will not only have completed an assignment, they will be stronger, have more confidence, and will increase their creativity!  It is, after all, Creative Writing!

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