Creativity: The Art Lost to Testing

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with a few of my colleagues here at school about the amount this article of testing that goes on that the State is requiring. We received our list of testing dates to give the PARCC test which is from the Common Core. I was amazed at home many more dates and hours teachers have to give up to testing. I read an article from the Columbus Dispatch the several weeks ago that talked about reducing the amount of testing hours. You can see from this article from the Dispatch some of the recommendations for the reduction of testing from nearly 20 hours down to 16 in the 2015-16 school year. As you read it you see most of the reduction happens to the early elementary students, not so much the middle and high school students.

So this year students will be testing nearly 20 hours. That doesn’t include all the practice testing, and sample questions given to students to practice in and outside of the classroom.

With all this testing, where is the creativity? Where is the idea that students should be tought how to think divergently? The PARCC tests don’t enforce this kind of thinking. Teachers know that test scores are what administrators look at, and care about. Don’t get me wrong, I think testing is fine. I just have a problem with the amount of testing.

We test so much students aren’t as creative as they used to be. Teachers don’t do as many units where creativity is a factor. We structure everything we do around the State test. We have to follow the district curricula map to stay on track. When we do some of the larger projects that take days or a week to do that may put you behind in your map. So what do we do? We stop doing the large projects, and focus on small activities instead.

I grew up in the 1980’s, and graduated highschool in 1993. I had some awesome teachers, and some that challenged me through the arts, language, and yes….to be creative. We didn’t have as any tests as we do now. I had a great education, and I had a great foundation when I went off to college.

What kind of foundation are we giving our students? How to take a test? Life isn’t about taking a test. Life isn’t about trying to figure out how much space Mr. Moustache has left after putting 25 watermelons in the backseat of his car.

We need to get back to teaching our students how to figure out real life questions and issues using divergent thinking, creative thinking, and using their imaginations. I honestly believe this is becoming a lost art. This is why I love to use Project Based Learning in my classroom. It is hard to test, because just like life there isn’t always one correct answer. There are a variety of ways to answer an issue or a problem. We have to show our students how to answer the same issue or problem in multiple ways.

Testing has its place. I know that. But we have to be thinking about getting our children ready for college or real life…not just the upcoming State test.

What do you think? Is creativity a lost art?


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