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Jason Carthew
IT Manager, Technology teacher

Is the culture of risk aversion stifling creativity?

Walking along the harbour (Sydney) I noticed the wharves had a safety fence lining the entire edge to the water in a way where you could not get close enough to see in the water. It made me consider what is the impact of our current risk aversion culture having on student creativity?

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Matthew Ross

Posted on 11/1/19 4:37:24 AM Permalink

​Jason,

I just finished my final placement as a pre-service teacher. I did notice quite a lot of risk-aversion in the students and the work they produced. There were a handful of students across the classes I taught that would actually put their hand up for every single question, task, or activity, and ask me "is this right/correct?" I would say a big yes to your question. I think it also has an effect on the tasks and assessment pieces themselves often being incredibly specific about requirements and criteria that the students have to adhere to. Education systems and culture may not even allow for creativity.
​My idea (I am just at the beginning of my teaching career, mind you, so this is unfounded and untested!) would be to focus on cognitions and thinking processes, and less on specific task requirements. Essentially, I would love to be able to say, "Do what you want!", and then examine the results to identify if students have applied theories/concepts in their own creative way.

I'll see where that gets me when I start my first year of teaching in 2020 :P

Leona Guidace

Posted on 10/18/19 5:28:04 PM Permalink

​Hi Jason, I have been considering your question... I had noticed that my students would look for subjective cues from me, to achieve a good grade. They would align their work to safely and consistently reflect what they thought would help them achieve a good grade - instead of bravely experimenting during their creative process. ...I am considering how to provide a learning "space" or module which encourages experimentation, discussion of risk & pitfalls, and rewards innovative solutions even if they fail. I think then we might witness decrease in aversion to risk within our classroom and an increase of joyful solution-driven creativity.