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Classroom set-up a major deterrent to students' creativity

Published:Monday | July 25, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
A typical classroom structure

Dr Faithlyn Wilson, principal of El Instituto De Mandevilla Kindergarten and Preparatory School in Manchester, believes the traditional set-up of classrooms in Jamaica, is flawed.

Dr Wilson feels the layout, where students are seated in rows and teachers are the main focus of attention, is a major deterrent to children freely expressing their creativity and excelling in the classrooms of today's technologically advanced world. Dr Wilson was a presenter at a Choices Career and Education Advice seminar, held recently at the Medallion Hall Hotel in St Andrew.

Both presenters spoke on issues affecting Gen Z, children born after 1995 and who are usually considered to be pragmatic, competitive, tech-savvy, cynical and technology reliant. Dr Wilson believes that classrooms today need to be more facilitating towards collaboration, which eventually will spark creativity among the students.




"Children have to be organised to work in groups. That is a major change that has to take place. Technology has to be present. I mean specifically information and computer technology. We can no longer plan a lesson without taking that into account," she said.

The highly sexualised nature of today's children and the one-size-fits-all method of the education system were cited as areas in need of special attention and reform.

"They are highly sexualised and we can't forget that. Those are the children that we have; we cannot change them and they are the ones we are encountering in the classroom. Our strategies will have to change in order to engage them in a focused learning environment.

"There is actually a way we describe the classroom I am proposing (for the Gen Zs). It is called differentiated instruction. It takes account of the fact that these are digital natives, so you have something in the classroom that caters to that," Dr Wilson said. "You have in the classroom the opportunity for these students to learn in different ways. You cater to those who want to hear, those who want to move, those who want to read and write, and you also facilitate the fact that they have different intelligences."

Meanwhile, Dr Leahcim Semaj called on parents to bring themselves up to date with technology to ensure that their children have direction in the Internet world.

"If the parents don't understand the technology, then they can't even interact with the child; and to restrict the child from technology is not going to work. It's all around them," he said. "Parents have to do their best to learn some aspect of technology. If the parents don't, that gap between parent and child will just get wider, get larger, and then we are not in a position to help them."