The Elementary Classroom as a Site for Creative Ritual, Student Voice, and Meaningful Learning


  • David Rufo Utica University



self-initiated creativity, student agency, art education, artistic processes, student voice


During my time as an elementary school teacher, the students in the classroom were given a significant degree of agency, autonomy, and voice in how they went about their learning process. In this choice-based democratic learning environment, the students gravitated towards self-initiated creative engagement and chose to employ creativity as a central function of their learning process. The daily creative rituals which the students enacted fostered feelings of wellbeing and at the same time opened up additional creative pathways (Rufo, 2016). These findings reflect the research literature that shows children who feel comfortable and safe in a classroom environment engage more deeply and meaningfully in academic content (Gude, 2010; Nickerson, 1999; Richards, 2010). Furthermore, according to Wright (2015), the affective filter “refers to factors, such as fear, anxiety, shyness, and lack of motivation” (p. 319) that can impede learning, whereas, a “safe and enjoyable classroom environment…helps to lower the affective filter” (p. 61). When students in the author’s classroom engaged in creative rituals of their own choosing, it lowered their affective filters which consequently opened up new channels and entry points into their learning (Rufo, 2017). The ritualized creativity of the students was made manifest in myriad ways that included drawings, paintings, 3D objects, installations, game design, and the production of short films. This narrative demonstrates how student agency allows members of a classroom community to express their individual and collective voices, while providing ample opportunities to learn in creative, meaningful, and relevant ways.




an open laptop with a cheerio on each key of the keyboard and several covering the track pad. The screen has the google search page open.



31 May 2024