President Uchtdorf gave a beautiful talk in the General Relief Society Meeting in 2008 titled “Happiness, Your Heritage.” This talk focuses on how our journey in life is to find happiness and discusses different ways to find that happiness. One of the sections of his talk discusses how the work of creation and creativity is one aspect of life that brings happiness. Here are some of his ideas and my thoughts on how to bring the magic of creation and creativity into your classrooms.
1. “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before… But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.”
As you teach, remember that all your students want to create so be sure to give plenty of time for this in your lesson plans. One way you can do this is to add in more art activities. To solidify a concept, have the students use visual arts, drama, dance, or use film, photography, poetry, or any other fine art. This improves how well they remember the content you are teaching as well as help them develop their creativity. In the 4th grade, my class and I learned about our state history. After learning all of the facts, we put on a play about our state. Being a part of this play was not only a lot of fun but also helped me remember many facts about my state that I still remember today. Don’t forget that arts are a great way, but are certainly not the only way, to be creative! The more creative outlets available, the better!
2. “Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create something of substance or beauty…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…You might say, “I’m not the creative type.” If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit [children] of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.”
It is not only your smartest, brightest, most able students that can create. We all do. In the classroom, encourage your students to create. Creation is not limited to the arts. Let students come up with their own ideas, plans, solutions, opinions, and approaches in every school subject. Now, this does not mean you do not give them any information to go off of. There is a delicate balance in giving them enough information to flourish but not so much that it crushes their creativity.
3. “What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify aspace and beautify it.”
Each one of us is unique and we all create different things. In fact, this is the definition of create: to cause something unique to come into being. Therefore, some ideas may be something we have never seen before or are not comfortable with. This means as teachers we must be open to all. This doesn’t mean you have to like it all, but it is pertinent to see the value in all creation. As a teacher, we want to foster this creativity, building it up to be better and better.
Pushing your students to create more is wonderful! Take Albert Einstein, Abraham Maslow, and Charles Schulz, for example. Albert Einstein resisted the school’s regimen and teaching method, Abraham Maslow had his own ideas on understanding the human mind, and Charles Schulz’ drawings were rejected by his high school yearbook. Without these creative people in history who thought differently, we would not have quantum theory, humanistic psychology, or Peanuts comics! It is another delicate balance of pushing your students enough that they grow, as well as having an open mind about new and original ideas and creations.
4. “…the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next. You may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts, every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”
For some students, it may be harder to find their talents and gifts, but don’t give up. It may not be on the outside or cannot be seen visually. Gifts and talents are numberless. Because we all learn differently, this may be the way that those students who normally struggle in the classroom can flourish. Learning to create not only helps immediately in the classroom but also in the future. Opening your mind to new ideas and trying new things is a life lesson that is vital to bring into the classroom.
Uchtdorf reminds us to not forget that, “As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”
To read Uchtdorf’s whole talk, visit:
There is also a wonderful Mormon Message created from his talk below: