A creative thinking class helps prepare children for an equal educational experience at the NSWAS Experimental Primary School

Starting from the current school year, the School has introduced a program to develop creative thinking skills, developed by Prof. Gideon Karmi of Jerusalem, under the sponsorship of the CRB Foundation. The program is applied in many schools throughout Israel at the first and second grade levels and has been found especially useful in advancing disadvantaged children. In the case of the NSWAS School, the method seems well suited to creating a learning environment where children from differing cultures and various socio-economic backgrounds can quickly feel at home.

The program is being taught by Yasmine Al-Kalaq, a Palestinian teacher who has four years’ experience in working with it in various schools. The aim of the program is to develop the creative thinking of the child, through the use of concepts from mathematics and science. By means of storytelling, artwork, drama, etc., the teacher reaches out to the imaginative world of the child, while working with concepts such as symmetry, balance, fractions, gravity, etc.

This week, for example, the first grade children were working with asymmetrical shapes. The children took these shapes and used their imagination to create from them various artworks, using crayons, modeling clay and other materials. Each child came up with her own ideas for this. One child drew the outline of the shape on paper and then drew the reverse side of the shape next to it. He used the mirrored shapes as the basis for a symmetrical artwork. Other children used their shapes as a basis for a larger drawing. The shape became for them the head of a dog or a flower, and they incorporated this into a picture.

The work of the children is not graded, judged, or evaluated on any kind of scale, and the children receive the message that all of their efforts are good. They learn to work individually, and at other times in small groups. Special activities draw parents too into the circle of learning.

Yasmine teaches the creative thinking program on the basis of two hours per week to each class in the first and second grade levels. Although the program framework is limited, its educational value is reinforced by the fact that in other lessons too, the same high value is placed on creative and individual thinking.

It is hoped that the program will particularly help to bring children with less developed creative thinking skills up to a par with their classmates, and that it will encourage every child to explore a subject in his own way without having been instructed by the teacher to adopt a certain set method or approach.

The staff sees the development of creative thinking at the early grade level as the first step in building a healthy personality. The aim is to develop thinking skills and personality traits that enable a person to evaluate the world on her own terms, rather than by accepted and inherited modes of thinking. It goes without saying that these qualities are essential to the establishment of a more democratic and equal society.



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