Show Creativity Like a 7 Year Old

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

Darya Zabelina and Michael Robinson of North Dakota State University conducted research based on this principle and showed that with the responsibilities and constraints of adulthood, the playfulness and curiosity of childhood can sometimes get lost and are instead replaced by conventional responses. In a recent paper, they took 76 undergraduates and assigned them to two random groups. The first group was given the following instructions:

“You are 7 years old. School is canceled, and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do? Where would you go? Who would you see?”

The second group was given identical instructions but without the reference to being 7 years of age – they thought with their adult mindset. According to Zabelina and Robinson, the former group produced more creative work than the latter research group. Interestingly, they also discovered that undergraduates who were more introverted showed even greater sign of creativity of they were given the opportunity to work as a young child, without inhibitions and restrictions of being adults.

These are fascinating findings, but perhaps not completely surprising? Imagine working everyday without having to worry what other people thought; what would you do? Statement like the one above is also good to use as ice breakers in Department/Team Meetings and give you the possibility of starting discussions without worrying too much about the initial ideas.

We came across this slideshow on SlideShare recently which encapsulates not only the innocence of childhood but also what we could achieve with simple but creative ways of using text, images and post-its to communicate a message. The potential for using this format is immense and does not need to be very complicated. Whether one uses frame-by-frame animation in Adobe Flash or with a camcorder or digital camera, the results could be tremendous and the creative output for students very positive. This is something we will return to in our classrooms.

If you have a spare few moments please visit the creator’s website Betsy Streeter.

There has been a drive recently to use methods like the one just mentioned and companies like CommonCraft have started producing tutorials ‘in plain English’ using similar techniques to Betsy Streeter although the ones created by CommonCraft are likely to cost a few bob.

Using Stop Frame Animation in the classroom could have great potential not only for students’ learning but also for encouraging them to think about abstractions, concepts and to give them the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding in a practical way. The following two examples show how easily your classes could use Stop Frame Animation using post-it notes – mind you, you’d need quite a few…

Other ideas for using Stop Frame Animation in the classroom could be to:

  • make use LEGO to explain an event e.g. why William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings.
  • use stickies to create a conversation between two people as well as thought bubbles that explain how they really feel about each other’s comments.
  • encourage whole class participation by getting each student to add an element to a drawing or comic which creates the complete illustration.
  • similar to the one above but students only use photos and images to tell a story. This is recorded with each class so the story might change drastically depending on the group involved – great for discussions afterwards!

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Johannes Ahrenfelt

Johannes Ahrenfelt has previously worked as County Advisor for Learning & Teaching with ICT, Head of Department and University Lecturer. He has taught for 10+ years in schools around Norfolk, UK, and is currently leading an inspirational team in Norwich as Head of Faculty. Johannes shares his passion for pedagogy on his blog, social media and when delivering training in the UK and abroad. He has also published several books worldwide, one of which has been translated into Mandarin and Malayan.

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