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Allow students to go beyond textbooks and spread the wings of imagination

By Mallika Preman,

Creativity and imagination are traits that fuel the future.

According to me, creativity is the skill to transcend traditional ways of thinking and come up with new ideas, writes Mallika Preman.

 “What is the colour of the sun?” asked a teacher in an interaction, and the child answered ‘WHITE’. The mother looked disappointed that her son could not answer come up with the ‘right’ colour of the sun. The teacher further probed, “Is it always white or does it change its colour?” The child thought for a while and said, “I looked at the sun this morning while coming and it was white but yesterday it was yellow and, in the evening, it was orange. So, we can choose the colour as per the mood of the sun”. And we all had a hearty laughter on this reply of a five-year-old. Fortunately, the mother also changed her expression, though it was more of a surprised look rather than being happy for her son’s observation and articulation skills.  

We all talk about nurturing creative thinking capabilities of our students, but the question is what is this creative thinking ability? Is it the ‘out of the box thinking' or the ‘innovative outlook to a problem’? According to me creativity is the skill to transcend traditional ways of thinking and come up with new ideas. It is the tendency to generate or recognise ideas, finding alternatives to solve a problem. If we (even kids of today!) were asked to draw a scenery during our childhood, the most common outcome would be the picture of a sunrise with orange or yellow sun, a hut, some triangles representing mountains, a river, two trees and yes… some flying birds! We will find this in the art files of our students even now. 

So, what is our responsibility as an educator? Are we in any way nurturing creativity in our schools? Have we trained our teachers to find ways and means of making their classes the hubs of innovative thinking? The answer is, to some extent yes. Few of our teachers have been able to achieve this but as for others, there is a long road to travel. It is imperative that we train our teachers to be creative and come out of the same old textbook curriculum. We are so bound to these books that everyone (including teachers and parents) is in a hurry to cover the syllabus. We are scared to try anything new. I personally would love, if a teacher tells me that she / he wants their students to explore the curriculum. The way to achieve this is to consider the textbooks as the reference books only and not to take it as a binding force for classroom transactions.  

It’s very important that we allow our students to think creatively and give them the platform to innovate. Creativity and imagination are traits that fuel the future! Even the New Education Policy emphasises on improving the quality of education by giving an equal space to creativity and innovation and transforming India into a vibrant knowledge society. The need of the hour is to break the usual pattern and give our students the shades to look at things in a different light, let go certainties and make creativity a habit. 

Mallika Preman is the Principal of Tagore international School, Delhi. Views expressed are personal.