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Creativity in the classroom is a Chemeketa goal

Chemeketa student Jazmine Deckard works on a painting while exploring the use of colors.

Chemeketa student Jazmine Deckard works on a painting while exploring the use of colors.

By Rebeca Ilisoi Photo by Alvin Wilson

The job of schools is to educate their students.

Deborah Trousdale, an art instructor at Chemeketa, said, “Schools teach through imitation. Copy what I do. Copy what this says. Copy this approach to comparision. … Eventually, you will come to a point that you can synthesize your methods of copying into something that you can call your own work.”

The learning process is often mundane yet effective.

But is creativity being lost in the repetitive mix?

How schools can foster creativity in students has become an ongoing discussion in schools, particularly Chemeketa.

Don Brase, Chemeketa’s Dean of Humanities and Communications, said, “Chemeketa wants to see students who not only learn the important skills of critical thinking, communication, and analysis but also how to be innovative and creative.”

It’s a good thing that Chemeketa is discussing producing creative students, Brase said, because “creativity has become more and more a highly valued skill that employers want to see in their workers.”

Psychology Today listed creativity as the most important quality of the 21st century, and Forbes magazine listed it second among seven essential skills.

“Of course, Chemeketa is paying attention to this,” Brase said.

Abigail Wood, a first-year student at Chemeketa, said that creativity is something students should care about.

“If creativity is just communication through unconventional ways, then I think that we should all be encouraging each other to do so,” she said.

“It is an amazing feeling to be understood and even more so to understand others.”

The value of creativity is apparent, but is Chemeketa perceived as a school that fosters the quality?

Wood has mixed feelings about the question.

“Some of my greatest moments of inspiration have come from sitting in a cold classroom with nothing but a pen and paper,” she said.

“I have also experienced the worst creative block I have ever had while in school. Mundane, repetitive schedules have a tendency to stay mundane and repetitive.”

Justin Arnold, a fifth-year nursing student at Chemeketa, said he would like to see Chemeketa offer more classes that are outside of the box.

“I find myself being creative in my fire classes because we are required to do certain projects using creativity to handle scenarios. We need more classes like that,” he said.

Instructors seem to agree with the student consensus that Chemeketa is trying to foster creativity but also could be doing more to promote its growth.

Magdalen Powers, a writing instructor, said, “I see a lot of creative thinking and doing at Chemeketa. College is a place where students have more autonomy, so there’s more of a place for that side of them.”

However, Powers said that she would “like to see critical thinking and problem solving be more of a focus.”

Trousdale said that schools producing creative, as well as educated, students are meeting a wider social responsibility.

“Parents would have to encourage their children to question, which would diminish parental authority,” she said. “The public would have to recognize the importance of creativity and demand support for its fostering in education.

“The Legislature, which has control over the educational system, would have to realize that testing based on role learning stifles creativity and questioning.”

Powers said that “creativity is hard to quantify, so it can fall by the wayside.”

Nonetheless, Chemeketa is striving to ensure that does not happen.

Chemeketa currently has multiple creative outlets, such as the Mock Trial team in the Political Science area and the Robotics project in the Electronics program.

Chemeketa also is looking to the future.

Despite the fact that one creative course, the Publications Lab, will come to a close at the end of the spring term, another creative course is being added to Chemeketa’s arsenal.

ART 102: Intro to Creative Process, is a new class that has been approved for next year.

The course is designed to help students generate ideas and to discover approaches that encourage lifelong innovation.

Brase said that being innovative and creative does not happen every day and in every class.

“But it is a goal and the great majority of instructors and staff work towards this goal each day,” he said.

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