Creative writing in non-creative writing classrooms

With dwindling test scores in core Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines, politicians, policy-makers, and pundits have shifted rhetoric towards emphasizing curriculums geared towards hard sciences, such as Information Technology. As a result, arts education, from visual to written, has become radically divested of school funding from the primary to secondary levels and beyond, in comparison to their more tangible counterparts. Research initiatives are popping up around the country, such as the University of Iowa’s "Creative Matters" series through their Office of Research & Economic Development and Arts Advancement committee, to defend the role of creativity and arts education in the classroom, including the hard sciences ((link)

How can creative writing benefit the classroom, and (more importantly) assist students in learning about STEM-based subjects?

  • Wow, this is something I've never considered, though I certainly don't think creative writing and STEM studies need to be exclusive, just as the humanities and STEM can intersect. I'm very curious about what someone will do with this topic. – emilydeibler 8 years ago
  • Are you looking at K-12 education or college writing? I am in composition studies, and there is a *ton* of research on using creative writing in the composition/English 101 classroom at the college level, as a foundation to teach more specialized writing. There is also a move towards "STEAM"--that is, adding "arts" into STEM education--happening at several universities. – Caitlin Ray 8 years ago
  • I don't think anyone can argue the importance of tech education, but creativity is absolutely necessary. Arts and writing help us think in a different way and exercise our creativity. What is the point of technology, if we don't have the creativity to come up with new and innovative ideas. – Tatijana 8 years ago
  • It's all about balance and developing the separate cognitive skills creativity and STEM force us to use. – 1person 8 years ago
  • Yes! Creativity is definitely a skill that needs to be developed. – DelaneyRoo96 8 years ago
  • This is a distinctly political question! It's all tied up in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and how that was designed to create students who could become "effective" workers in a growing STEM based world. What ends up happening, and the Common Core's obsession with both technology and nonfiction is a testament to this, is actually a systematic destruction of opportunities for critical thinking. What is labeled as "critical thinking" seems to actually be "systematic thinking". Creativity and critical awareness should be linked (ie - finding a way around a problem in a creative fashion), but they have been separated. This topic is timely, urgent, and important! I would love to write this topic from a political perspective. – Racoonhands 8 years ago
  • It's comforting to know I am not the only person this dilemma concerns. As a modern era student coursework has become increasingly difficult and demanding. I graduated from high school in the class of 2014. Throughout my education the lack of attention to Arts programs became disturbingly evident. The school board felt it would be best to cut funding on "unnecessary" subjects like art, band, orchestra and creative writing and divert that money towards core curriculum. This may have seemed like the best response to the nations' academic shortcomings but in retrospect it was detrimental and quite frankly suppressive. I saw the effects of this personally and within my peers. In my early years of education I was active in painting, sketching, poetry and I played the cello for my middle school orchestra. These years were the years I excelled the most academically and was a high A, occasional mid B student. I would later be accepted into the Health/Science Magnet program at the high school I would attend as well as Advanced Placement course and Dual Enrollment. Upon entering high school my friends and I were no longer able to continue our passion for orchestra because the district refused to fund a program for high school. The art classes were always packed to the max capacity and difficult to get into. This left me and my friends with only our specialized health/science classes, College Courses and Advanced Placement classes in addition to regular curriculum. My motivation and interest in my academic courses diminished and quickly turned into hostility and contempt towards the education system within the four years. Without a creative outlet I struggled more to focus on my academics (the boring stuff). The psychological effects of constant academic pressure also became evident among all of us. Depression, stress and mainly anxiety riddled through classrooms. Some of my friends dropped out of classes or dropped out all together because the effort required for these didn't yield fulfilling results. The big shining A on a piece of paper sent from the registrars to your parents didn't seem worth the all-nighters of studying and lost moments with loved ones and friends. I understand that the question was "How can creative WRITING benefit the classroom and assist students in learning about STEM-based subjects?", but I believe creative writing is only one of the many mediums that could be used. Our academic system needs to realize that balance between core subjects and creative subjects is essential. With only one and not the other we push young minds to the extreme. Our country needs educated individuals just as much as it needs innovators and artists. By shutting down creativity in schools, we limit the futures of countless individuals and in some instances we condemn them to failure. – sakurathegreat 8 years ago
  • I hark back to Woolf's old line, "Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact." When we ask students to write critically, we are asking them to be researchers to "prove" a point—and this is fine in their attempts—however, now and then we as teachers in the profession should remember that, if we are in the humanities at any rate, it is in the creative process that "truth" finds its relief on the page, or strikes a reader. Any particular truth—this is one great thing about the literary essays of old, those by Woolf, Lamb, Montaigne, that they gathered up their materials in one pail and, depending how the sun shone that day, drew their lines about and pressed onto paper a personal experience, a personal view. Yes, one can be both creative and critical; and often I would say far more discerning and penetrating if one uses the faculty of imagination in the critical process. We in the humanities should know firsthand that truth comes in myriad forms; can never be held; is elusive as time is long. It is in the "moments" of imagination that now and then find the page that a critical point can be at its most effective. – travismckinney 8 years ago
  • Hear hear!!! Western education has definitely become utilitarian over the last two decades. I grew up in the learning is fun movement and am saddened when I see how students of all ages have lost the idea that the learning process and how we learn can be a great experience. Of course the world is a competitive place and there is the survival of the fittest. Hopefully in education there can be good balance between being able to compete and being able to create. Unfortunately, I think that creativity is a luxury afforded in times of economic prosperity. Given the austerity measures worldwide it doesn't appear that creativity in education will make a comeback any time soon. Munjeera – Munjeera 8 years ago

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