Permission to Create

Bloom’s tells us that the highest level of cognition is creation – that in order to create, we must first be able to remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate and synthesize.   However, in my classroom, and I would venture to say, my school site, that step of creation is viewed as far less significant than the underlying steps.  In fact, oftentimes, we view creation-driven activities as “filler” or “fluff.”    Often, in English class rooms, we stop at “analyze”.  Analyze the text, the metaphor, the character, the author’s choice.  Occasionally, we venture to “evaluate”: evaluate the argument, evaluate the text, evaluate the issue.   Rarely, though, do we make the leap to creation.  And I have to posit that this is because, oftentimes, we value students’ questions and students’ ideas less than our own.

Recently, this issue came to light for me while building a unit calendar for my 9th grade Romeo and Juliet unit.  The unit is designed around asking students to brainstorm a contemporary, parallel situation with which to update Shakespeare’s work (a la Warm Bodies or West Side Story), and collaboratively re-writing, and potentially, staging our play.  To complete this task, students will need to understand the plot and conflict of the play, analyze characters and scenes, evaluate their authorial choices, and synthesize their work with their classmates’ in writing and conversation.  But I couldn’t get over the idea that this activity was somehow less rigorous than the traditional literary analysis essay asking students who is to blame for the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.

I’m lucky to have a very supportive department chair who pointed out the merit of this creation-based assignment.  And so I realize that the biggest hurdle between myself and my students’ highest levels of cognition is me.  So, moving forward, I’ve given myself – and my students – permission to create.

… And more lucky still, Kathy Schrock has already pointed out that there is an app for that.

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