I was reading a blog post titled Creating creative portfolios by Deepa Muralidhar the other day that really got me thinking of this whole notion of creativity in computer science. I think it is a problem in a lot of subjects these days but it can be particularly troublesome in disciplines that call from some real creativity like art and Computer Science. OK maybe not everyone puts those two together but the same day I read Deepa’s post I cam across this quite:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” Albert Einstein
We are still in the very early stages of computer science in my opinion. We can’t afford not to see computer science as requiring creativity and imagination. Computer science needs to embrace the entire world. We need students to go beyond the rubric and get creative. We need students to see game as being more than just “games using missiles and guns or sports based games.” as Deepa’s students seemed to see as the only projects for creation.
We need that so that they exercise their creative side; that they go beyond the obvious that everyone else is doing. We need projects that force students to go beyond their knowledge and discover new knowledge. Or at least new ways of using old knowledge.
This can be hard for students for a number of reasons. One is that too often in schools we teach the creativity out of students by asking a class of 30 students to hand in 30 identical papers/projects/texts. or we assign recipes and expect students to follow then exactly for full credit. We make them color inside the lines! There are no lines in real art but we forget that.
So what can we do when students get to high school and want to stay inside the lines? We have to encourage them to stretch themselves. We have to say “here is the box. do what you want as long as you stay outside the box.” We have to ask them what problems do they have and want to solve. We have to find ways to help them to be creativity and then when they are creative we have to reward them for it. As with almost anything one gets that behavior that is rewarded.
And you know what? Having creative students doing creative things and forcing their learning outside the textbook is a lot more fun for teachers too!