Creation versus consumption

I often hear people criticize internet users for being mere consumers of the content. These critics say that nowadays kids spend a lot of time online but they only consume but rarely create. Well, yes, but do we really encourage our kids to be creative?

When I was at school, I mainly experienced learning via lecture-style instruction, where there was little space left for making something new and authentic. The knowledge had already been created by the great minds and we were supposed to consume or ‘acquire’ this knowledge. I got few opportunities to create things of my own or respond creatively to someone else’s content. Yet I’m presently the kind of person who reads an article and immediately, often already in the middle of it, feels the urge to react, respond, reply, create. Yes, I’m a little impatient and I often have to force myself to read to the end to make sure my opinion will be relevant. I believe that by expressing opinions, readers add a new dimension – a new layer – to what has been written. That’s why I love online discussions and blogs where I can respond and have a dialogue with the author and other readers; I feel that I’m not just a passive consumer of other people’s thoughts and ideas and I actually re-create the original text. 

I believe that all people love creating something of their own, something that will leave a trace, a mark, even if just for a while – a wooden table, an essay, a photograph, a house, a cake, or a paper plane. It’s something as natural as the desire to be loved. Very small kids enjoy playing, as well as drawing and painting pictures, building sand castles and cube towers, which they are eager to share with their peers, teachers and parents. And they are free to do it when they are young and cute. Nobody tries to stop them; nobody makes them just look at the works of other kids. They wouldn’t accept it anyway. So what later forces us to gobble up the knowledge created by others and we don’t (or can’t) even protest. We slowly learn to conform to this way of learning. But having become conformists, we don’t stop craving for the opportunity to create. Some of us are lucky and we are enabled to create, but others feel they will never get the chance. However, people don’t have to ask for permission; they just need the confidence to take action. Nevertheless, people often give up because they feel they can never come up with something worthwhile and new. But as everybody is unique, the things they create are unique as well. Two fellow cooks can never make identical dishes, two kids will never draw identical pictures and two people never see the same rainbow. And that’s it. Let’s stop being shy because we believe that what we’ve ever created was crap. It may be true but next time it can be a masterpiece and by creating ‘crap’ one actually learns more than by mere consuming.

This post was inspired by a group of my students who are in the process of creating their own video. In the beginning, they were really enthusiastic; they had big plans and they wanted their work to be amazing, professional – simply flawless. Now they are in the stage of ‘Oh, it’s not as wonderful as we thought it would be’; they feel their plans have fallen through. Well, they’ve come to the inevitable point in the process of creation – doubts. But I believe this will be valuable experience for all of them; they will learn from their ‘mistakes’ but they will also learn to be more realistic in their expectations next time. Some tasks that appear to be a piece of cake may actually require a lot of skill, effort, efficient team work (and a bit of luck too). Anyway, I’m convinced that they will like their work in the end, especially if they get support and positive feedback. I keep my fingers crossed for them.

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About Hana Tichá

I'm an EFL teacher based in the Czech Republic. I've been teaching English to learners of all ages for more than 20 years. I love metaphors and inspiring discussions concerning teaching, learning and linguistics.
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6 Responses to Creation versus consumption

  1. Theodora Pap says:

    Nothing is easy and everybody encounters difficulties in the process of creating!! Don't give up guys!!!

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  2. Hana Tichá says:

    Thank you for your support, Theodora. I'll forward your message to my students 🙂

    Like

  3. Thank you for this post!

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  4. Hana Tichá says:

    You're welcome, Adam. It's about you and your friends, after all 🙂

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  5. Theodora Pap says:

    I would also suggest that you do some of the project together and you the teacher can guide them somehow through the stages. They will feel more secure and I am sure you'll have a lot to fun!!!

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  6. Hana Tichá says:

    Don't worry, Theodora. We're discussing everything in the lessons and on Facebook almost every day. We filmed part of the video at school but they wanted to take some night shots as well and some of them wanted to include things they do outside their classes. The things they are worried about are mostly technical – cutting the video, adding the music at the right volume, etc. Anyway, they are much more technicalIy skilled than I am so they'll figure it all out. I don't think they ever felt insecure up to the point when they saw the outcome for the first time. However, I gave them some feedback and tips on what to improve. I want them to make the final decisions themselves, though. I guess that what it's all about. We could have asked a professional to help us but they refused this because they wanted to be in charge of the whole project. So, all they need is motivation, feedback and occasional heads up 🙂

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