For teaching to be maximally effective and relevant in our 21st century cultural landscape, instructors have to do more than employ technology to disseminate information more efficiently and expediently. The kinds of literacies required for today's world include the many modalities of digital communication that have recently redefined what it means to be an effective communicator in the professional and personal realms of human interaction. As an English teacher, I believe that’s one of the more important duties of my vocation - namely to help students discover how to express and communicate their passions and ideas as effectively as they possibly can. Just as students cannot become dynamic communicators by simply reading/listening to others’ impressive displays of verbal eloquence, the same is true of the more recent, nontraditional modalities of communication. Students have to write, make speeches, and give presentations themselves to complete the process of learning how to express themselves well. The same is true of blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.; students need to have opportunities to create such products to hone their digital literacy and rhetoric.
I saw Prof. Brandt give a talk at St. John’s School in Houston when presenting at the SummerSpark conference back in June 2013. Watch Dr. Brandt's TED talk on creativity, the arts, and the need to value them more in all core-curricular programs:
Dr. Brandt's demystification the concept of creativity immediately triggered idea after idea for me in relation to helping students make better, more creative demonstrations of learning. I want my students to create, but I want them to do it meaningfully by doing it well. I don’t want them to just communicate information clearly; I want them to express it effectively by moving, inspiring, or pleasing their audience. That takes creativity and a keen aesthetic sensibility, and Professor Brandt’s breakdown of the creative process gave me a conceptual vocabulary that enables me to have that conversation with students. Creativity is not a mystical concept that some of us get while others don't; creativity is a core skill that can be learned and cultivated by anyone who is genuinely curious about the process. Our job is to fire up that curiosity by finding ways to structure projects that are relevant, meaningful, and interesting for each of our unique students. And there lies one of our many exciting challenges as 21st century educators...