George Lucas Educational Foundation

Creativity, Following Directions, & Failure

Creativity, Following Directions, & Failure

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I summarized some dialogue from my recent College for Kids class:

The contents from my blog article College for Kids the First Two Days I sent to a modeling aviation listserve and also to several individuals. This did provoke some interesting responses which I will try to summarize. It brought up the issues of creativity, the role of failure in learning, and the inability of some students to make simple measurements for a project.

My comment: “"I would say to cut a piece 2" x 4" out of foam plate and some would cut much smaller pieces. My idea was to give them general proportions but let them use some of their own creativity."

Someone questioned if some kids could measure out a rectangle 2” x 4”, I would hope by the 5th grade this would not be an issue, it would have been better for me to work in metric but I thought that more difficult. I think the issue is more about not following directions for whatever reason. One person said that he gave the kids a template that they could modify outside of the boundaries. He went on to say that kids are desperate to modify their aircraft and try new things with it, on that I can concur.

The Role of Success and Failure in Learning

One person gave a statement that I have a little trouble with but I do see their intention:
“The number one requirement in class is that every single airplane must fly successfully.
Creativity by the ignorant is a prescription for failure.”

I think the point here is that kids will lose interest in a hurry and not pursue an activity further if presented with failure from the start. This statement by a fulltime science instructor mentions the inability to work through failure as one the largest weaknesses he sees in students:
“Students have a tough time sticking it out, especially when it gets hard for them. The lack of risk taking and failure in their lives lessens their ability to work through failure.”

So much to consider when teaching, my next class will be just building the foam airplanes so I am going to trace out the pieces and see how it goes.

Bill Kuhl

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